There are usually a few assumptions we all make about a nice bars. For instance, you may have come to expect a place for drinking in a giant metropolis such as Tokyo to have signs and advertising to identify themselves as such, right? Maybe a front door? Then once you’ve found said watering hole you’ll be able to pull up to the bar and order, while staring doe-eyed into their wall of spirits behind the bartender, right?
Half bar and half art installation, the hidden CNAC Wall Bar in Tokyo is a beautifully minimal scene for a drink… if you can find it.
Not here says the designers of Tokyo’s hidden speakeasy on the grounds of the Costume National Aoyama Complex. There’s no obvious front door or signage. Doesn’t deter you? Good, because when you finally make your way inside, you’ll find no spirits on display either. Instead of a typical bar setup, the wall behind the bartender is a lush vertical garden, the climax of the space’s ‘concrete jungle’ theme. Now granted, they may make an appearance, lighting up the room as the bartender slyly and briefly perches them on the bar to make your drink. However glance away too long and you’ll find they’ve disappeared beneath the smoothly polished concrete bar, just as quickly as they arrived.
The CNAC wall bar seems to cater mostly to Tokyo’s well heeled drinkers, searching for an inspiring environment for to hide away with champagne, whiskey, or wine. I was surprised to find they didn’t have a cocktail menu at all. Still instead of the expensive spirits on the menu, I ordered a classic Negroni and the “special” fresh fruit vodka cocktail for my wife. I enjoyed my drink which arrived with a sculpted block of ice, but can’t say the same for the fruit concoction. If you’ve ever thrown kiwi in a blender, you’ll know the acidic black seeds in kiwi make the mixture biting to the tongue, so the drink was definitely not as smooth as it looked. Still we enjoyed the cool drinks after the hour or so hunt for the bar. Come for a drink and check out the atmosphere, but stick with classic cocktails or neat sips of your choice of whiskey or wine.
Hint: Use the slender door in the center to enter, there is no entry from the gallery or the store the bar is sandwiched between.
CNAC Wall (カクテルバー · 青山) LOCATION AND HOURS
Location: Hidden on the premises of the first floor of Costume National Complex
Address: 5 Chome-4-30 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo 107-0062
Directions: Costume National Complex in the Aoyama district is walking distance from Shibuya or Omotesando train stations. The building is easy enough to find, but then you need to find the secret door in the wall that leads to the bar.
Phone Number: 03-4335-7772
Hours: 6pm – 11pm, Tuesday – Sunday
Price Range: Expect to pay around 1000¥ per cocktail or more for whiskey and other fine spirits.