Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bar Code Name Mixology

Neighborhood: Akasaka
Address: Torin Akasaka Building 2F, 3-14-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
渡林赤坂ビル2F 3-14-3東京都港区赤坂
Capacity: 40+
Seating Charge: JPY 800
Bourbon Selection: Good
English Menu: Yes

Bar Codename Mixology focuses more on being a cocktail bar, but their bourbon selection is impressive, albeit small, and the atmosphere is everything a cocktail/whiskey bar should be.

Bar Codename Mixology is located on the second floor of the Torin Akasaka Building in Akasaka near the Korean section of Akasaka. There is normally a sign on the street outside the building that marks the entrance, but it's easy to miss. To enter the bar, walk up the stairs and enter through a wooden door to the left. 

Upon entering, you're met with a long, appox. 15 seat, bar crafted from a single piece of wood that ripples along its natural edge. The bar is dimly lit with much of the light coming from over-sized bare incandescent bulbs. At the far end of the bar is a nook with cocktail related books, small barrels used to age cocktails and two black leather chairs. Behind the bar are shelves of infused spirits, whisky and bourbon as well as other mixing equipment. On the other side of these shelves, separated by a glass window, is an additional seating area for larger parties. 

 As the name suggests, the focus of this bar is cocktails. They infuse vodka with a variety of flavors, including blue cheese, wasabi and foie gras. These infused vodkas are then included in the bar's many original cocktails. A further selection of cocktails is barrel aged for approximately 3 months. These cocktails range from traditional (e.g., a Manhattan or Rob Roy) to a foie gras infused vodka martini topped with chocolate shavings and served inside a clear plastic smoke-filled bag.

The bartenders were conversational, but often engaged in mixing cocktails. During a brief lull, one of the bartenders excitingly explained the care that he uses when infusing.  For instance, many bars that infuse vodka with wasabi simply slice the wasabi.  This, according to our bartender, can lead to bitter flavors and, instead, it is preferable to grind the wasabi prior to infusion. The bartender then offered a taste of the wasabi vodka, which turned out to be spicy, but not unpleasantly so. Sushi sprang to mind. 

I ordered a barrel aged Manhattan made with Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, a white balsamic based raspberry syrup and bitters. The drink was served up in a metal cocktail glass set atop a metal coaster. As is often the case in Japan, the balance was spectacular, but, at the same time, the flavors were also more aggressive. Highly recommended. 

The bourbon selection is small, but full of rare and ultra premium offerings. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection was well represented (George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Eagle Rare) as was Van Winkle (Pappy 20, Rye). They also had a bottle Old Fitzgerald's 1849 bottled in 1985 at the Stitzel-Weller distillery that had originally be exported to Italy and some way or another made its way to Japan.

Bourbon can be ordered by the half shot if desired for one-half the price of the price listed on the menu, which facilitates tasting, 

All and all, this bar is very good. They have a wide selection of both traditional and experimental cocktails with a small but curated selection of bourbon. 

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