Tokyo’s temple of Japanese bartending turned 15 this year and much has changed in a decade and a half — the address, the size, the interior design, the supporting cast, and the number of signature drinks — but the most important features remain unmoved. High Five is still the place to see drinks made with rare precision, using techniques sometimes readily apparent (plastic shakers for drinks that don’t need dilution) but often barely perceptible (the varying shake patterns, the careful blending of ingredient temperatures, the adjusting of aeration). It remains the go-to bar for exquisite takes on the classics, it’s still the best place to understand the essence of the local style of bartending, and it’s here that you’ll find the best White Lady in town.
Owner Hidetsugu Ueno often plays bar back these days, entrusting drink-making duty to his award-winning head bartender, Kaori Kurakami; regulars know to order her thrown Bamboo. High Five first appeared on The World’s 50 Best Bars list back in 2011, and 12 years of global fame means you’re likely to hear half a dozen languages spoken on the customer side of the counter and a good three or four behind the bar. It also means you may have to wait for a seat, but patience pays off with a truly refined drinking experience.