Whether you’re on holiday, enjoying a day off, or a pro at pairing food and drink, day drinking is one of those sweet nectars in life that is totally worth doing (every once in a while!)
[photo credit: Google]
“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
This is the universal justification for starting your boozy session earlier than others in your present timezone. Day drinking is one of those things that might be considered socially unacceptable to some but for those that know how to do it right, know that it is well worth it!
[photo credit: Bridgesward]
So, do Japanese people day drink?
The simple answer is, yes!
Whether it’s business men with cans in hand on the train, housewives enjoying a boozy lunch at an uptown restaurant, students soaking up the sun at the park, or a beach BBQ gathering, there is no denying that the Japanese know how to day drink and do it well!
And when it comes to matsuri (festivals) and the holiday season – New Year, Golden Week, Obon, Silver Week and all the national holidays in between (there is almost one every month!) – day drinking is the norm! Not to mention Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season – where you will find locals reserving spots in every possible space that has cherry blossom, to drink and be merry from the morning!
To put it short, you don’t need to feel out of place reaching for a drink while the sun’s still way up in the sky.
[Photo credit: CK Lim at Malaymail]
How to day drink like a local
The obvious answer is to hit up a kombini (convenience store) and grab a couple of cans as it is completely legal to drink in public in Japan. This is, of course, the cheapest and most convenient option and is perfect if you’re looking to chill in the park (such as the green and spacious Yoyogi Park located between Shibuya and Harajuku). Just buy the drink of your choice (they have everything from beer, fruity chuhai – look out for the deadly 9% alcohol Strong – to wine, and liquor), add some snacks and you’re good to go!
A favourite combination if you’re looking to add a touch of class is Budget Mimosas: find the cheapest sparkling wine, a carton of orange juice and some frozen cut fruit, plastic cups and voila! You have yourself a little cocktail! Replace the sparkling wine with red wine and you have an almost instant Konbini Sangria!
There are also a number of import shops like Kaldi that sell international craft beer and slightly more upmarket wine if you’re looking for something a little more classy while drinking out and about.
[photo credit: Google]
But if you’re looking for something a little more special…
Who doesn’t love brunch? Holidays or special Sundays brunching with loved ones – it’s these moments that often get a bit boozy (isn’t that why the Mimosa was invented?). At a good brunch spot, quality food (of course), a nice atmosphere and a decent drink selection should all be top priority. A favorite of Flip is Tractor Morning in Nakameguro. As this spot’s main business is a bar, alcohol is plenty and their food often sells out. Another favorite is Hobgoblin’s Sunday roast. Although it’s not quite as it is in England, it does the job when in Tokyo and only 1500 yen for a decent amount of food. Bills may be overrated, but they have a great atmosphere for a fancy brunch and they make killer cocktails.
[photo credit: Timeout]
But one of the most cost effective ways to find brunch in Tokyo is by using Ikyu. Ikyu is a Japanese booking website focusing on hotels, restaurants, and spas. What’s great about Ikyu is that they sell discounted rooms and meals. By that I mean you can score an awesome lunch/brunch with all-you-can-drink deals from 3300 yen at some really nice restaurants! *Please note that Ikyu is only in Japanese.
However, if you’re looking for something other than brunch there are always a few restaurants and izakayas that are open and serve alcohol earlier than most. The Flying Circus located in Shibuya has a great selection of gin and even has unique outdoor seating: enjoy customisable G&Ts from 12:00 and chill in a circus style tent. Another great gin place is the Day Food Lab in Koenji, which is open from 14:00 on weekends. And Cafe Havana needs an honorable mention as their happy hour, which is from 16:00-19:00, serves Gin & Tonics and Moscow Mules from 200 yen! Just on the brink of day drinking but it’s a good option to stop by after a session in the park, for example.
Come summer time, you can find an abundance of beer gardens – often on the rooftops of major department stores near major stations around the city. They typically involve all-you-can-drink BBQ deals. And if you’re looking for a chill outdoor drinking vibe all year round, Commune 2nd in Omotesando is a must go. Think food trucks, event space and beer garden all in one.