Bar review - Shot Bar Zoetrope, Tokyo
Name: Shot Bar Zoetrope (Shot Bar ゾートロープ) Address: 3rd floor, Gaia Building #4, 7-10-14 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Website: http://homepage2.nifty.com/zoetrope/
Finding Shot Bar Zoetrope is pretty straight forward, as long as you ignore the walking directions provided by Google Maps! It will show you the right location alright, but will confuse you no end with it's instructions on reaching that golden star on the map.
Get to the Shinjuku Subway Station, incidentally the world's busiest transport hub serving more than four million people daily! There are 200+ exits, but do not worry about that. Get out somewhere towards the western or northern end.
If you follow signs for Odakyu Department Store you should end up in the vicinity of where you want to be. Then make sure you are on the western side of the railway tracks, and walk north for about five minutes. See the map below for exact position.
The entrance is easy enough to find once you reach the correct little alley. You then enter a tiny corridor, and take the tiny elevator up to the third floor.
This bar has been open for about eight years. The owner and manager, Atsushi Horigami, is a very generous and knowledgeable man. Great to talk to. He knows a lot about Japanese whisky history and about movies. Atsushi used to work in the videogame industry, then decided to follow his passion. Good for him, and good for you if you find your way to his bar!
There are about eight seats at the bar, and 3-4 tables. On one wall he screens old black and white movies with a projector, with the audio turned off. Instead of the movie sound you are treated to a very varied and interesting collection of movie soundtracks. This all creates a rather unique and cool atmosphere. I love movies, movie soundtracks and whisky. As you can imagine, this place was very much to my taste.
Like most of the bars we visited in Japan, Shot Bar Zoetrope has crazy opening hours, 7 pm till 4 am every day except Sundays and national holidays.
Atsushi has specialized in Japanese whisky, and he has more than 300 different expressions on his shelves at any one time. As soon as one goes empty he will replace it with another from his extensive collection. Many of these whiskies are rare and/or limited editions. He also has several releases exclusive to his bar. We got to try two of them; Ichiro's Malt Hanyu 3rd Anniversary 2000/2009 Rum Finish, and an Akashi.
On the shelves there are a few other nice experiences awaiting the adventurous customer. For instance, we tried a rather good Japanese rum, called Nine Leaves.
Atsushi serves snack food in his bar, great snack food. He has made many of these dishes himself. We especially liked his home made beef jerky. It was a perfect match with many of the whiskies we had, and I kept ordering more and more.
Having visited the bar on several occasions during our vacation, we got to know Atsushi a little bit. We told him about our travels and distillery visits, and he heard we had not been to the Kirin Distillery. He then found a one hour documentary about Kirin, and ran that on the big screen, giving me a virtual tour. He also ran some fun, old Suntory TV commercials. All very educational and great fun.
We really felt welcome in this bar. If you are visiting Tokyo and only have time for one bar, this has to be it. But then again, why would you do something silly like that? You should of course visit as many wondrous establishments as possible when you go to this amazing metropolis.
Sláinte! - Thomas