Yamatoya Bldg. 9F 1-13-7 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ward, Tokyo 160-0023
Hiroyasu Kayama’s approach to cocktails at Benfiddich has been dubbed “farm-to-bar”. The farm is his parents’ home, just north of Tokyo, where he’s planted anise, fennel, mint, juniper and all manner of other flora. Bunches of wormwood hang to dry in what was once his bedroom, waiting to be turned into absinthe in his 20-litre still.
It’s fitting, then, that the design concept for his bar was a moonshine den, dark and mysterious, with dusty 19th-century bottles (most of them open and offered by the glass) and jars of arcane herbal infusions. The intimate setting, with just eight seats and two tables, affords Kayama ample time to discuss orders and guide guests to one of his novel concoctions. A fennel-flower Sazerac, perhaps, or a Martini infused with the scent of cypress. Behind it all is an orthodox training, evident in his seamless, graceful movements and the fact that most of his cocktails are inspired twists on a classic.
Image: Hiroyasu Kayama