Contrary to expectation, the Blue Cheese Martini at the Akasaka branch of Code Name Mixology is a subtle concoction. The cocktail is clear, served in a delicate crystal glass, with three olives on the side. The cheese aroma hovers faintly on the nose, but the first sip is mildly sweet and fruity. The character of the drink changes completely after eating one of the olives: The blue-cheese flavor billows across the palate, mingling with the briny spiciness of the olive. As the savory sensation recedes, hints of pear and lemon rise to the surface, followed by an earthy smokiness in the finish.

It's a moment that reminds me of the scene in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" where eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka unveils his Three Course Dinner Chewing Gum. Code Name Mixology owner and head bartender Shuzo Nagumo has created a salad of contrasting flavors in liquid form — without the unpleasant side effects of Wonka's invention.

While most Tokyo bartenders are still concentrating on perfecting the classics, Nagumo, a mixologist with 14 years' experience, is developing new recipes that incorporate unusual ingredients and the cutting-edge techniques used by modernist chefs such as Britain's Heston Blumenthal. At the original branch of Code Name Mixology, located near Tokyo station, the bar's backlit shelves glitter with an array of bottles filled with whole spices, original distillations, and homemade syrups and bitters.