Bar Jakimo – Nagoya’s Speakeasy

by Gerry McLellan

Remember when your mummies and daddies used to reminisce, ad nauseam, about the Good Old Days, and you weren’t quite sure what the hell they were gibbering about? Well lads and lassies, those lazy hazy days are back, and, for a fistful of dollars, and, perchance, a few dollars more you can be transported back to the swinging twenties when prohibition was in full swing!!

Under the terms of the 18th Amendment, brought about chiefly by the temperance movement, the US government in all its wisdom decided that the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages should be made illegal.

Never happen in Scotland I hear you say!

Well, obviously not, but … I digress.

One good thing to come out of that era was the fact that the average American Joe wasn’t as dumb as the government of the day or the people involved with temperance. They went underground and drank their booze in the comfort of secret watering holes known as speakeasies.

Well, boys and girls, now you can put on your Mary Janes, your golf knickers, and your fedoras and make a beeline to Bar Jakimo, Nagoya’s newest and hippest ‘speakeasy’ cocktail bar.

Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am, Midtown BBQ is transformed into a 1920s New Orleans’ style boozery.

The covert entrance to Bar Jakimo, coupled by the fact that the long drapes prevent passersby from peeping inside, lends credence to the overall feeling of behaving in a somewhat clandestine manner. Access to Bar Jakimo is via the neighboring Chiyoda Hotel.

Simply walk through the main hotel doors, turn right and you will see a doorway to the right of the reception desk. The experience of passing through the door from the brightly lit hotel interior to the dimly lit Bar Jakimo is otherworldly. For those who have been to Midtown BBQ, the difference in ambience will be profoundly felt. The chandeliers are dimmed and the faint glow from the candles atop each table provides the main source of light and mood – just perfect for sipping your favorite cocktail.
Bar Jakimo’s owner and bartender, Phil, honed his skills in the bars of New Orleans, a city that did exceptionally well during prohibition, chiefly because of its location as a port city as this allowed for a steady stream of hooch.

There is an extensive range of cocktails available at Bar Jakimo, from the Sazerac (the official New Orleans’ cocktail), to the original Lady Caine, named after the wife of Michael. On the last Sunday of each month, Bar Jakimo hosts a cocktail tasting from 4pm to 5:30 pm where patrons can get four, half-sized cocktails centered on a single theme and learn something about the history of the drinks. The theme for October is the history of the Martini, from the Martinez, to the Vesper (James Bond’s favorite tipple), to the one we know today..

All drinks are made with freshly squeezed juices and the menu includes some highly sought after whiskeys imported from outside of Japan.

The atmosphere is highly convivial and it is easy to imagine Ernest Hemmingway popping in for a little something with a Caribbean twist.

I can’t promise you Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor or Louis Armstrong every time, but the music is piped directly from New Orleans and there is an eclectic mix of jazz (goes without saying) and other mood evoking numbers.

Phil has spent a great deal of time and effort researching cocktails and this is reflected in the fact that Bar Jakimo is not solely about the cocktails from the speakeasy period, but the history of cocktails in general. He is knowledgeable about the all things “cocktail” and can help enlighten those who express an interest. I, for one, was fascinated to learn so much in such a short space of time. Bar Jakimo, however, is not in the least pretentious; it is simply a place to chill out and “speak easy”.

I have to admit that after my fourth cocktail I found it rather difficult to make any coherent sounds and found myself wondering why the bars of that period were so inaptly named!!

There is a set menu available and guests can order other, more well-known, cocktails and choose from a selection of beers.

Whether you drop by for one drink or four, or indeed fourteen, be sure to drop by Bar Jakimo – a little corner of New Orleans in Nagoya!


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