Bar Trench – a sliver of a space in Tokyo’s grown-up nightlife district of Ebisu – only exists thanks to a last-minute change of heart by its owners. When Rogerio Igarashi Vaz and Takuya Itoh took the keys to the 23sq m room, they were planning to use it as an office for their nearby Bar Tram and fledgling import business. But just as they were about to lug the filing cabinets in, they thought better of it and built, by hand, their second bar. In the 12 years since then, Trench has risen from secret spillover bar to globally recognised drinking destination.
Mustachioed Brazilian polyglot Igarashi Vaz is still at the helm, now with right-hand-man Shoshi Wagai, turning out forgotten classics, seasonal specials and house originals. The menu, adorned with titbits of cocktail history, has a whole section devoted to absinthe drinks, and once Vaz and Wagai know your taste and mood, they might steer you off-menu. Many of their menu drinks begin as creative responses to a customer request, like current favourite the Sazerac highball, devised when a guest found the straight version more than they were bargaining for. The signature Trench 75, with sparkling sake replacing the champagne of a French 75, is the one drink that always survives the seasonal menu revamps.