...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Drinking in Ikebukuro, Part 2

The evening from Part 1 continued...

After I left Abbot's Choice and before Will and I went to Quercus, logic would dictate that I had met up with Will. And I did! At his bar, Buffalo Tap.

Walking into Buffalo Tap, I couldn't help but grin. Will was living the dream. Or, at least my dream. And probably his dream. Here was a small neighborhood bar with maybe a half dozen seats, and a well-curated whisky and beer selection. No, there aren't 500 whiskies, but the stuff that's there is great. It's exactly what I wanted to do when I moved to Ohio, but the ancient liquor laws got in my way.

Take THAT, Bar Argyll!
I hung out with a few local folks while I had a good crisp IPA by Crux Fermentation Project. Tried that Hazelburn 9yo Barolo Cask on the left side of the above pic. It was much better than I'd expected. Then Will gave me a try of the sherry and American oak edition of Mars Komagatake which was very good.

He also poured me a bit of this bizarre thing:

Known as Suntory Za, this peculiar thing was the first blended whiskey designed by Suntory's current blender Seiichi Koshimizu, back in 2000. The good news is Koshimizu-san's whiskies got better after this one. Once Will told me this whisky spent time in cedarwood, that's all I could taste or smell in it. For more info on it, see Will's post.

Once I was done drinking Will's whisky, we headed out for some more whisky. Our first stop was Quercus (reviewed here). By the time we were done there, it was quite late. The second planned stop, Oasis, had closed. But the owner suggested we go to his new bar, Nonesuch.

It was about 2am at that point. It was time for a fourth (or fifth?) meal to keep us young folks going. We spotted an all night Indian food joint. Over mildly spice dishes and arm-sized slabs of naan, we discussed Twitter and the philosophy of David Hume, as you do.

Then it was to Nonesuch! From what I recall (blurry), it's a British music themed bar. Posters and record covers on the wall. BUT, MOST VITALLY, Starcrash was playing on a big TV in the corner. A fabulously crap Italian-produced Star Wars ripoff, Starcrash stars the lovely Caroline Munro (playing it totally straight) and Marjoe Gortner (who's unsure if the whole thing is campy or not). Hasselhoff shows up at some point, as does Joe Spinell. Christopher Plummer makes several appearances because I'm only assuming the producers were holding his family hostage. Regrettably, everyone keeps his and her clothes on, except for a giant metal robotress. Otherwise it's terribly delightful, or delightfully terrible. I own the DVD, but seeing it playing on a TV in a British-themed Tokyo bar at 3 o'clock in the morning is one of the great things.

"Imperial Battleship, halt the flow of time!"

Also, I drank this...
...which I dare say was damned good. All the single cask Chichibus I've had thus far have been impressive (and expensive). Another pic:
It was around this time I realized the trains were not in service. Will told me some lines started up at 4:30. Google confirmed this.

At 4:45am Will and I parted ways. My train ride was filled with Walk of Shamers and the early shift. When I stepped out of Shinjuku station, the sun was up. It had be 15 years since I pulled an all-nighter. Let's just say it's not as easy as it used to be.

That's one thing I learned that night. I also discovered there's still good whisky being produced in Japan. It's just not being done by the majors, for the most part. It's young whisky, but it's good whisky, and it's expensive whisky. But I'd take 'em over Kavalan any day.

I was less than 40% through my trip, but it was the last time I drank Japanese whisky while in Japan.


  1. Starcrash recently got featured on the MST3k revival. I never even knew this movie existed until Jonah and the Bots ripped it to shreds. Christoper Plummer has even told his story of how he came to be in this movie. The short version is he was willing to do ANYTHING to visit Rome and took the first Italian film offered to him. In fact Plummer jokes that he would have even done porn if it meant going to Rome...

    1. He could have waited a couple years and joined the Caligula cast.

      I really must watch the MST3K revival episodes. Totally chipped in for their Kickstarter then forgot about it.

    2. Wait a minute, you might see your name in the credits. All the episodes feature a section of their backers names during the credits.

    3. Fun! There were like zillions of us. Long credit sequence!

    4. Luckily they broke them up alphabetically across all the episodes. I believe the K names might be on one of the middle episodes.

  2. Many thanks for coming to visit; I figured you'd appreciate the Mars Komagatake. It was the Sherry and American Oak version. Also, I think the beer you had was an IPA by Crux Fermentation Project in Bend, Oregon - very good brewer, IMO.
    Did you get a chance to try any of the Hanyu Ichiro's Malts? In particular, any of the Poker Card series? They're not only the best Japanese whiskies I've ever tasted, they're as good as any whisky I've ever tasted. Of course, my palate is a relatively unrefined one, but I would bet most people would rate them higher than any Karuizawa they've had. Next time, now that I know what you're up for, let me take you to Koenji - not necessarily many whisky bars, but a few local hangouts that have some treasures.

    1. Never got a chance to try any of the Poker Cards. The only Hanyu I've tried was the one he did for Zoetrope, bottled in 2009. I was in Koenji on first full day in Japan during this trip, but spent most of the afternoon wandering around Ginza with heat exhaustion and jet lag.

      I'll update the post with your info ASAP. Thank you very much for being a great host. The next time I come to Japan, I will likely have company...