Nolo Bars In Tokyo To Check Out | CoolJapan

No alcohol, no fun? That’s decidedly not true, as evidenced by these lively establishments popping up across Japan's capital. While Japan has always been known for its raucous drinking culture, the recent pandemic-fueled prohibition on serving alcohol has seen a rising curiosity in the nolo (no- and low-alcohol) trend.

Of course, there will always be those who prefer the real deal but don’t turn your nose up at these nolo concoctions too soon. Gone are the days where mocktails are nothing more than glammed-up sugary mixes; these days, no-alcohol drinks feature an inventive mix of ingredients such as shrubs, ferments, kombuchas and non-alcoholic liquor. Not only are these beverages unique, they are full of flavour too.

Not convinced? Here are a few creative nolo bars to check out the next time you’re in Tokyo.

0% NON-ALCOHOL EXPERIENCE




With its futuristic interiors replete with mirrors and shiny metal surfaces, this vegan bar and restaurant may make you feel like you’re dining in outer space. Within the bar, there is also a pop-up gallery space that features eye-catching work from contemporary Japanese artists, so there’s always something interesting to arrest your attention no matter where you turn.


The menu features over 20 unique concoctions, including “Goldentree”, made with cold-brewed coffee and fresh grapefruit; and “Kombucha Sparkling”, which is reminiscent of natural wine. They even have drinks that are specially formulated to be paired with soothing sounds, which you listen to via headphones. Don’t leave without trying their plant-based dishes such as the vegan quesadillas or the CBD chocolate brownie bar, which is infused with orange peel and coconut.

The Public Red Akasaka




While not completely alcohol-free, this British-inspired gastropub offers a decent selection of non-alcohol versions that include zero-alcohol versions of beer, martinis and classic cocktails like the Bloody Mary. They also offer non-alcohol versions of their signature ice ball cocktails, which feature frozen sorbet drizzled with liquor and come in three flavours – peach and calpis, grape and cassis, as well as kiwi and lime. Pair your drinks with English comfort food such as fish and chips and meat pies, all made with locally sourced ingredients.

Zelkova


Seasonal fruits for refreshing mocktails, Zelkova
Seasonal fruits for refreshing mocktails. (Photo from: Zelkova)


Named for the famed zelkova trees that line the Omotesando neighbourhood where it’s located, this chic bar and restaurant offer a peaceful ambience surrounded by lush greenery. While they have alcoholic options on the menu, they’ve also recently expanded their non-alcoholic menu to include a range of zesty and refreshing mocktails. This includes six new gin mocktails that come with tantalising ingredients such as rosehip, lemon mint and ruby grapefruit.

No.




Talk about a speakeasy! This nondescript venue is hidden away on the second floor of an apartment block in Yoyogi-Uehara and combines a cafe and bar within its minimalist interiors. Sip on their delicious selection of mocktails, simply numbered from one to five, with some seasonal specials. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try all five but some popular options include No 2, made with cold brew coffee, juniper syrup, vinegar, tonic and soda; while No 3 is a refreshing concoction of lime juice, lime stock, ginger beer and burdock tea.

Low-Non Bar


One of the signature cocktails, LOW-NON-BAR.

One of the signature cocktails, LOW-NON-BAR. (Photo from: Low-Non Bar)


With its muted lighting, dark wood panelling and marble countertops, Low-Non Bar has all the trappings of a classic Japanese cocktail bar. The only difference is that the menu only includes nolo drinks. However, with ingredients that include non-alcoholic spirits, tea, infusions, shrubs and seasonal organic produce from around Japan, these mixes are much healthier and no less delicious. Low-Non’s signature drink is the low-ABV Honey Truffle-ni, which is a blend of pear vodka, grapefruit, truffle honey and tonic. If you’re a total teetotaler, go for the Umami Virgin Mary, made with non-alcohol gin, fresh tomato, shiitake tea and black truffle salt, or the Mrs Negroni, which combines non-alcoholic gin, wine and bitters.


(Cover photo from: Low-Non Bar)

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  1. 1.0% NON-ALCOHOL EXPERIENCE
  2. 2.The Public Red Akasaka
  3. 3.Zelkova Omotesando
  4. 4.No.
  5. 5.Low-Non Bar
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