Even if you don’t care for the nightclubs, rowdy bars and other delights of the Roppongi scene, Caipirinha Bar is one of those rare places that doesn’t give off that general “Roppongi” feel that leads some patrons to take their drinking elsewhere. The bar, with its dim lighting and relaxing Brazilian background music, is in stark contrast to the loud entertainment venues that dot the neighborhood.
“We wanted to do something different from Roppongi,” says owner Javier Watanabe, who owns several other businesses in the area, including the Reebok CrossFit gym and Tantra, an upscale “gentlemen’s club.”
“Brazil also has the Olympics and (had) the World Cup coming up (when we opened this bar),” Watanabe points out.
As the name suggests, Caipirinha Bar specializes in caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. It is made from cachaca, an alcohol distilled from fresh sugar cane. While most bars will carry the original version of this cocktail, which contains cachaca, sugar, ice and lime, Caipirinha carries that and dozens of other flavors and variations.
When the bar opened, they had many more flavors that have since been removed from the menu, such as natto (fermented soybean). While that option is no longer on the menu — and likely for good reason — there are still crazy flavors to check out if you’re daring. In fact, go for the wasabi (¥900), which is made with a vodka infused with actual wasabi stem — not the cheap stuff that comes out of a toothpaste tube and is sold in supermarkets. If you’re not that adventurous, try another flavor such as kiwi, strawberry, melon or raspberry. You can control the sweetness of the drink by requesting more or less sugar — or none at all.
With drinks averaging about ¥1, 500 per glass, the cocktails at Caipirinha may come off as excessively overpriced to those looking to drink on a budget. The best remedy for that is to head to the bar from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., during happy hour, when the caipirinhas are ¥900 each.
Despite the price, there’s no other place in Tokyo that will serve a larger and better-tasting variety of this Brazilian specialty. Other places might cut down on time and cost by using gum syrup or lime juice to sweeten — or only stir the sugar lightly with a bar spoon, which leaves a thick, crusty white layer on the bottom. One thing I noticed was that Caipirinha bartenders don’t skimp on quality. Each cocktail is prepared with fresh lime and real sugar, and although they take more time to make, the cocktails are prepared and shaken in a bar shaker to allow the sugar to mix with the other ingredients — which makes a noticeable difference.
Caipirinha Bar: Roppongi Park Bldg. B1 Floor, Roppongi 2-10-4, Minato-ku, Tokyo; 03-5775-6783; www.caipirinhabar.jp/en. Open from Mon.-Sat., from 8 p.m. till late. Angela Erika Kubo is a freelance writer and bar lover based in Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @aekubo.