Tokyo is full of forgettable bars. Luckily for tipplers,
it's also got more than its share of great onesalthough
tracking them down is sometimes a challenge. Bar Ho is such
a place. An Old World drinking den in the truest sense, this
standout establishment offers a chilled ambience, soft jazz
and fine libations that stop the hands of time after a hard
day at the office. It's the kind of place you'd
never leave, given the choice.
Upon entering a large tuft of sprouting wheat signals that
this house specializes in single malts and their kin, all
of which are stacked, book-like, in a gargantuan hardwood
cabinet. Like a Harvard librarian, the bartender uses a ladder
to reach the uppermost shelves where bottles stand in for
bound volumesand surely the quality and selection and
age are on par with any Ivy League literary collection. The
dark steel framework of the spiral stairway and gangplank
that lead to an intimate upstairs adorned with plush red velvet
sofas and coffee tables, perfect for a confidential powwow
or dangerous liaison, shores up the classic yet simple interior.
Not surprisingly, solitary types from local Aoyama populate
the expansive bar, lost in a private world, while businessmen
and women stick to the lounge areas on both floors.
Although Bar Ho stocks over 70 varieties of single malts,
including five types of Macallan, Glenmorangie and Bowmore
starting at ¥1,000, rare and outrageously priced scotches
have been deliberately left off the menu to draw a more diverse
crowd and create a more democratic ambiencedespite the
patrician décor. And, when the amber liquid arrives
in a short glass with a perfect sphere of ice, an extravagance
that's becoming harder to find in cost-conscious Tokyo,
you definitely feel you've landed in the lap of low-key
luxury. The only thing missing from elegant Bar Ho is pretension.
You may feel you're keeping company with the elite, but
a night of indulgence here is cost effective enough for a
commoner with a taste for good scotch.
Open 6pm-2am Mon-Thu, 6pm-5am Fri,
Sat, 3pm-12am Sun, hols. 6-2-10 Backborn House B1F, Minami-Aoyama,
Minato-ku. Tel: 5774-4390. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
Photo credit: Nobby Kealey