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.
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.