Pree Scruby pulls up a perch at Codename Mixology, Tokyo’s hottest new home to cocktail innovation.
In the high-class business area of Akasaka, an area in Tokyo most notably frequented by top executives and politicians, sophisticated establishment Codename Mixology sits very comfortably. As with many backstreet bars in Tokyo, locating the discreet entrance is part of the attraction – Mixology’s wooden doorway is marked with a simple golden crest.
In an attempt to escape the bounty of high-end restaurants in the area, we meander into Mixology to be greeted by one of the bar’s friendly, well-groomed bartenders, Hitoshi Fujiwara, who is immaculately clad in a russet leather-trimmed apron, crisp shirt and tie.
A slight cigar scent laces the moody yet inviting interior, accompanied by the soft, seductive sounds of 1930s jazz. A stuffed stag’s head hovers above, brown leather seats line the bar, and a vast selection of liquor bottles and antique glassware is on display. In the corner sits a lone armchair, lit elegantly by an old brass reading lamp, and a bookshelf whose collection includes titillating titles such as The Savoy Cocktail Book, Dressing in the Dark, and an array of guidebooks for whisky sipping, cigar connoisseurs.
We take a seat at the bar, awaiting the ambush of alcohol-mixing acrobatics of dapper bartender Yuuji Kikuchi. It’s clear to see that Mixology is extremely serious about the art of cocktail making, proudly promoting their original menu of magical concoctions, utilising instruments such as centrifuges, vacuum machines, smoke guns, liquid nitrogen and anything else that adds to the theatre and complex tastes of its creations.
A whole section of the well-stocked bar is dedicated entirely to the bar’s very own mysterious in-house infusions, such as Elixir, British Negroni, Manhatten Exp, Franbresson, and G4, to name a few. There are also over 100 whiskeys to choose from, including a 25-year-old Bowmore and a 21-year-old Hibiki.
Looking for a bite to eat to accompany the upcoming onslaught of liquor, we decide to order the Cocktail Dinner Menu, consisting of any two cocktails plus a set four-course meal. To complement the Italian-inspired appetiser of Bagna Cauda, I ask Kikuchi for a Caramel & Newton, a refreshing palate pleaser with a warming undertone thanks to peanut butter-infused vodka, and a side of salty, baked almonds.
The Tom Yum Cooler proves to be the perfect interlude, before the next course of simple carbonara pasta is served – an absolute standout of a cocktail, the exotic appearance of the Tom Yum Cooler is only surpassed by its complexity of aromatic flavours, including the sweet and sour taste of tamarind, along with the spiciness of ginger beer and the citrusy, savoury tones from fresh coriander and lemongrass.
Putting all my trust in Kikuchi-san, I ask him to mix something to perfectly accompany the main course of chicken breast with homemade ginger sauce and turnips. The result is a potent potion of vermouth, homemade pink pepper gin, and Japanese spring sprout, wrapped around a large diamond-shaped ice cube. A beauty to look at, this concoction is the devil in disguise and leaves me with an extra few hairs on my chest, something I really should have expected from a bartender bestowed with the title of Tequila Maestro.
The subtleness of the pistachio ice cream dessert leaves me longing for a sweet-tasting nightcap, and the rich, indulgent, smoky taste of the Gastro Chocolate Martini (above) really hits the spot. A decadent combination of foie gras vodka, chocolate ganache, cream and nutmeg, the pièce de résistance is watching Kikuchi-san masterfully smoke the entire glass inside a piece of polythene using a rather lethal-looking smoke gun before expertly releasing it and sliding the drink across the bar to be enjoyed; a thrilling conclusion to a wonderful evening at Mixology.
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