Looking for an insider’s take on Japan’s drinking culture?
Perhaps you’d like to delve into the world of Japanese cocktails in the city of Asahikawa, famed for its prize-winning mixologists. Or how about comparing craft beers from microbreweries along Tokyo’s Yamanote Line?
This summer, you can test both experiences thanks to special programs led by local guides at Hoshino Resorts’ OMO hotels. And, if you can’t make it this summer, staff can help you organize your own drinking-themed stay. There’s plenty to sample all year round!
Original beer cocktails
Asahikawa is the second biggest city on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido. Most Japanese know it for its cold winters and warming culinary offerings, such as ramen and the grilled mutton speciality Jingisukan.
The city’s other claim to fame is its drinks: several prized sakes are crafted here, the Taisetsu-ji Brewery makes highly drinkable pilsners and ales, and cocktail fans will find plenty to satiate their thirst.
At Hoshino Resorts OMO7 Asahikawa, you’ll be ideally positioned to explore the city’s drinking scene. This contemporary-design hotel has urban attitude, a central location – and a bar serving a range of beers and cocktails.
You can sample the classic Hokkaido Red Eye cocktail, a combination of local beer, tomato juice and vodka. Or how about a Calpico with sake, which mixes a milky soft drink with local Otokoyama sake.
As a bonus, the hotel is adding a pop-up beer cocktail bar this summer. Seven original cocktails will be offered, including “Black & Black”, a dark soda drink made from guarana berries combined with Ryuhyo Draft, a dark Hokkaido beer brewed using iceberg water.
Japanese cocktail culture
Asahikawa is a great place to explore Japan’s cocktail scene at any time of the year. In winter, you can sample the nightlife while skiing in the day thanks to a special urban ski program at Hoshino Resorts OMO7 Asahikawa.
In the morning, shuttle services take you directly to the slopes. At night, the hotel’s local guides, known as OMO Rangers, will show you the best bars in town.
If you’re a cocktail-lover, there’s plenty to explore. Japanese mixologists are reputed for their precision and perfection.
Ice is often hand-shaved from a solid block, and you can expect all accessories, from mixing spoons and shakers to cocktail glasses, to be exceptional quality.
Which tipples should you try? Lemon Sour is a refreshing mix of shochu liquor, club soda and freshly-squeezed lemon. You’ll often see the lemon replaced by other homegrown citrus fruits such as yuzu and sudachi.
How about a Ginza Mary, the local take on the Bloody Mary that includes sake? And for cold winter nights, the perfect remedy is Tamagozake, heated sake combined with raw egg yolks and sugar.
Tokyo’s craft beer scene
If you prefer craft beer over cocktails, the northern Tokyo district of Otsuka is an excellent place to start. The area is full of narrow streets lined with small izakaya drinking dens and specialist restaurants.
One of the Ranger outings is a Craft Beer tour. In the last few years, Japan has become a vibrant market for ji-bīru (craft beer) and is now home to more than 200 microbreweries.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, Smoke Beer Factory produces 5 of its own craft beers and also stocks an eclectic range of Japanese and international brews. Smoked food is a speciality here – and the technique even extends to the beer, with the bar’s iconic Namachan no Raoho using smoked malt to create a smooth, aromatic taste.
Yamanote brewery line
The Smoke Beer Factory is one of 4 breweries participating in a special summer program at Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka. Until September, the hotel’s bar is hosting the Yamanote Craftbeer Festival – a chance to sample lagers, ales and IPAs from 4 microbreweries situated near stations on Tokyo’s Yamanote Line.
The hotel itself is just a minute’s walk from the Otsuka stop.
During the festival, you’ll be able to test offerings from the Spring Valley Brewery, which produces Daydream, a white beer with unique Japanese ingredients such as sansho peppers and yuzu.
You’ll sample brews from T.Y. Harbor, a specialist in pale ale, IPA and Imperial Stout.
And you’ll be served creations from DevilCraft, a brewery famed for its dark, rich-flavoured Black Igneous.
Can’t make it this summer? Not a problem. You can come anytime and hop on the Yamanote Line to order a beer from the breweries in person!