"Fine Japanese whisky cocktails but the ice alone is worth a visit"Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
The Japanese take their whisky seriously. First establishing commercial production in Yamazaki in 1924, the country is now home to a number of distilleries. Probably the best known is Suntory, who continue to produce the single malt Yamazaki to this day. A short history lesson isn’t a necessity for visiting the dive Japanese whisky haunt Mizuwari, but a rough crash course never hurts your chances of choosing right. Of course, the bar staff here are trained in the ways of Japanese whisky and whether you like it single malt or blended, they will prod you in the right direction.
Located in the basement of Yakitori restaurant Bincho, Mizuwari is London’s first bar to exclusively serve Japanese whisky. Not just that, they serve the Japanese way, which means ice globes the size of your fist and a tendency towards mixing with water. In fact, the name Mizuwari means ‘mixed with water’. Down in the dark basement, the self-proclaimed ‘dive bar’ doesn’t quite live up to that rep - if this is a dive bar then everywhere should do its best to be a little more ‘dive’ in our opinion! Take the lighting. Every table is lit with its own lamp, which can be adjusted to the individual’s desired level – or at least affords you the choice between dark and not so dark – with a gentle tap to the top. The presence of the personal lighting keeps each table secluded – a delicate touch we enjoyed.
Nifty lamps aside, the drinks are the clear stars. If you want to keep it true Tokyo style then opt for the highball – a drink that Suntory made famous. Tall glass, ice and Hakushu 12 topped with soda, refined simplicity. Alternatively try the Shosho, a blend of Hakushu 12, soda, rose water and fresh mint. Or reach for the barrel-aged take on the Seimei. Aged for under a week, the cocktail takes on only the subtle hints of the barrel. The blend of Hibiki 12, maraschino liqueur and absinthe is then served over a large hand-cut ice ball. Drinks can also be accompanied with yakitori skewers from the grill upstairs.
At around £12.00 for a cocktail, prices edge towards those of London’s famous hotel bars. But since the whisky at the base of every drink is imported and often rare, you pay the price for exclusivity – something that the atmosphere and overall experience can match.
T.A.O reviewed Mizuwari on Wed 03 Jul 2013