The Best Bar in the World Only has 15 Seats, 1 Bartender, and a Narnia Vibe

Open a portal to a different dimension at this Tokyo cocktail bar with proprietary ingredients that the bartender farms.

<p>Worlds 50 Best Bars</p>

Worlds 50 Best Bars

Entering a bar (a good one, anyway) is often like stepping into another time and place. But BenFiddich, one of Tokyo’s top tipple dens, takes this experience to a whole different level. Once you ride the lift to the ninth floor of an otherwise unassuming commercial building in the city's Shinjuku district, you open a portal into a different dimension.

Propping open this wormhole is owner-bartender Hiroyasu Kayama. Despite the fantastical display of Narnia-like ephemera decorating BenFiddich’s cozy interior, it’s Kayama's appearance that may catch your eye first. Invariably dressed in a tightly tailored white suit, he's flanked by bar staff with whom he seems to communicate telepathically. They continually feed him the elaborate ingredients he needs to prepare each order: rosemary distilled water for a Green Negroni; honey and melon for his Honeydew Cocktail; dried cochineal — along with about a dozen other assorted spices — for his legendary Fresh Campari concoction.

Kayama’s economy of motion is so graceful that watching him compose drinks is as close to theatrical production as you can get behind the stick. It also ensures that you’re never waiting too long for a specific drink, no matter how bespoke and labor-intensive your order may be.

Nevertheless, the most impressive element of BenFiddich might be what happens in the off hours, some 60 miles west of Tokyo in a small village called Chichibu. That’s where Kayama runs his family farm, cultivating the many herbs, spices, vegetables, and fruit that make their way into his drinks. His commitment to the craft is evidenced by the lengthy commute he undertakes regularly, carrying this natural bounty back into the heart of the city.

Beyond the bespoke, garden-infused arrangements, BenFiddich is renowned for its selection of rare vintage spirits, with amari, gins, and Japanese whiskies that date back to the mid-20th century. Select one of these treasures and you’re guaranteed to receive your pour in some manner of antique chalice. No detail is too small, literally, from farm to glass.

Somewhat surprisingly, you’re not charged all too much to experience the magic at BenFiddich: The average cocktail price hovers around the $20 mark, and if there’s one drawback, it’s just how difficult it can be to secure your spot at the bar. The diminutive space can barely hold more than a 15 patrons at any given time, and if Kayama can’t make it to work, the place won’t open in his absence.  It’s essential to make a booking well in advance through the bar’s Instagram @benfiddich_tokyo.

If the schedule doesn’t align on your next trip to Tokyo, you can also grab drinks within BenFiddich’s sister property, Bar B&F. It’s located on the third floor of the same building and is typically more accessible, especially on short notice. Though not necessarily an inter-dimensional sort of space, it’ll take you on a pleasurable ride nonetheless.

Global Tastemakers is a celebration of the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. We asked more than 180 food and travel journalists to vote on their favorites, including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. We then entrusted those results to an expert panel of judges to determine each category’s winners. In many categories, we’ve included a Plus One hand-selected by our expert panel, to shout out more culinary destinations we don’t want our readers to miss. See all the winners at

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