Tokyo International Bar Show brimming with world champs

Tokyo International Bar Show brimming with world champs

Japan’s top drinks event returns with two world’s-best whiskies and a brace of champion barmen
Tokyo International Bar Show
Call him Mr. TIBS.

Here’s an idea for Golden Week -- spend it recovering from the vast array of superb imbibing on offer at the Tokyo International Bar Show.

The capital’s most-celebrated drink extravaganza takes place May 5 and 6 at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi and promises seminars in sake, gin, whiskey and rum, drinks made by top bartenders from London, New York, Paris and Tokyo, and best of all, free-flowing cocktails.

The TIBS story began 12 years ago with the birth of “Whisky Magazine Japan.” Local publisher David Croll threw a launch party and invited distillers to hand out samples.

He called it “Whisky Magazine Live.”

The formula (lots of people + lots of alcohol) proved popular and the event has been repeated every year since.

From that Tokyo jump start, 16 countries have copied the formula, making it the world’s best known whiskey festival.

But while you’ll find Whisky Lives everywhere from Cape Town to New Delhi, the original has been renamed and reshaped to become TIBS.

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Event organizer Croll tells us why the need for change arose.

“The natural progression seemed to be to expand the range of drinks and embrace the skills of the people who prepare these drinks,” he says.

“Luckily, our thoughts coincided with those of the largest bartender organization in Japan, which was constantly being pushed by its overseas counterparts to stage a Japanese bar show.”

The show is a collaboration with the Nippon Bartenders Association, and will feature a joint seminar by Japan’s two reigning world-champion drink makers, Manabu Ohtake and Takafumi Yamada.

It will also be your chance to try Japan’s two current world-champion whiskies -- 25-year-old Yamazaki and 17-year-old Taketsuru.

Getting there: Tokyo International Bar Show, Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi, Tokyo; May 5 and 6; 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; tokyobarshow.comTickets: One day, ¥6,000; both days, ¥9,000.