Now here’s a properly hidden bar. Oji is tucked away, cunningly, inside another bar, the Japanese-style el Ocho cocktail outlet from the el Willy group at Zhang Yuan. To get in, you’ll need to make a call from the vintage telephone on the wall outside.
Once inside the sleek low-lit venue, you’ll find there’s no menu. At all. Remaining true to Tokyo tradition, the bartenders at Oji (named for founder Naoji Oji) instead guide you to a bespoke cocktail creation, or personalised whisky recommendation. This is usually done by asking you questions (in a friendly way, it’s no grilling) that range from ‘what kind of base do you like?’ to ‘what did you have for lunch?’ Regardless of the answers we’ve given, we’ve found the drinks to be consistently top-notch and the whole experience makes the price tags (usually around 90RMB) good value.
Just be sure to book ahead – Oji gets packed out quickly at weekends, though of course with el Ocho just outside, it’s easy enough to find somewhere to drown your sorrows if you don’t nab a seat.
By Victoria Brownlee