The only reservation my husband and I made the first time we visited Tokyo was at Bar Gen Yamamoto. At this nondescript eight-seat bar in the Azabujuban district of the city, proprietor Gen Yamamoto — an experienced barman who managed the bar at New York City’s Brushstroke — concocts drinks that take cues from regional, seasonal produce mixed with high-quality spirits. Recent variations include tomato from Hokkaido, passion fruit from the Amami islands, and peach from Yamanashi. He offers only a four- or six-drink tasting menu; there are no bar snacks, no fanfare.
We were dazzled by the cocktails, but we were equally enchanted by the delicate, etched glassware in which each was served. We were told that some of the glasses were purchased at a store called Sokichi, a tiny storefront in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood.
The shop is stuffed to the gills with cases of sparkling crystal, razor-thin tumblers, and elegant stemware. There are tables crowded with strainers and bar spoons and jiggers, and crates of glassware spilling out the front door. It’s a cocktail enthusiast’s wonderland, famous among bartenders in Tokyo for its singular offerings. Yamamoto says he bought several tools there when he first opened his bar, including sets of Kikatsu glasses by Kimura Glass.
Kimura Glass has a long history in Japan, and the Kikatsu series was designed by artist Shizuyo Seagusa, Kimura Glass’ chief designer. The graceful handmade glasses — which, though pricey, come in over a dozen shapes and sizes with a variety of designs — epitomize the dainty vessels that crown the bar at Bar Gen Yamamoto.
We picked up a few in Tokyo, but snagging some from the Kimura website means you don’t have to cross the Pacific Ocean to bring the Yamamoto magic home. After all, a cocktail glass with character can elevate the drink itself. A “glass makes taste for cocktails,” says Yamamoto. “It’s like a dress… match the [glass] character with [the drink’s] taste.”
There’s no reason the drinks you serve yourself can’t feel as fancy as those bought out on the town.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.