Fuglen, Tokyo

Blogs & Inspiration

Fuglen: One of Toyko’s Coolest Bars

Tokyo-based Food writer Nicholas Coldicott tells us about Fuglen, one of Tokyo's coolest cafe/bar concepts. 

Author: Nicholas Coldicott, Tokyo-based Food and Travel Writer  

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 

Discover Fuglen through the eyes of an expert

Nicholas Coldicott has written about Japanese drinks and bars for over a decade for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Eat Magazine, The Japan Times and Whisky Magazine Japan.

Nicholas tells us about Fuglen, one of Tokyo's coolest cafe/bar concepts, including its innovative collaboration with local breweries and use of local ingredients to create other-worldly cocktails and food and drink pairings. 

From Oslo to Tokyo

Fuglen is a 50-year-old, ever-so-cool Oslo cafe/bar decked in mid-century Scandinavian designs.  By day it serves light-roast coffee to java lovers; by night, it offers experimental cocktails and all day long, it sells vintage furniture and interior goodies. Fuglen Tokyo is the same concept, but 5,000 miles away in the Japanese capital. 

Coffee Culture

Visit in the daytime, and you'll find people sipping coffee and off-duty baristas talking about the finer points of brewing. Beans are sourced from artisan roasters in Norway and Japan and brewed via espresso machine, AeroPress pump or Kalita wave dripper. 

 

Cocktail Hour

Visit in the evening to find bartenders serving the city's most innovative cocktails. The drinks menu would be exciting anywhere in the world, but in the orthodox world of Tokyo bartending, it's almost heretical. 

Popular Cocktails

  • Paris Tokyo is a blend of gin, oolong-infused creme de cassis and Norwegian sake. 
  • The 7-Finger Death Punch has sake and cachaca, both infused with Japanese shichimi (7-spice) with orange juice, ice chai, shochu and simple syrup.  
  • Other well-loved cocktails are sweetened with homemade syrups of ingredients as unconventional as pollen, clover and beer wort. 

 

Local Ingredients

Drink recipes from Norway come with detailed instructions or ideas for flavours and local ingredient-inspired recipes. For example, the menus have included shiso and cheese sandwiches paired with a shiso cocktail, a green tea sour or a short cocktail pairing mezcal with 35 year-old sake. 

Brewery Collaborations

Japan's Baird microbrewery provides Fuglen with wort to make syrup, and Shiga Kogen microbrewery supplies Fuglen with hops. The hops are steeped in Irish whiskey and added with the syrup to a highball glass with egg white, grapefruit, lemon, soda and homemade hop bitters. 

 

Concept Expansion

Fuglen continues to expand and now has several venues in Japan. Contemporary Artist Takashi Murakami also commissioned the team to produce cafes for him in Tokyo and Kyoto. 

A journey embraced by all

Fuglen's journey from Oslo to Tokyo has been embraced by coffee lovers, cocktail enthusiasts, and artists, underlining its magnetic appeal. The daring cocktails, using ingredients as diverse as shichimi, pollen, and beer wort, challenge Tokyo's established bartending norms and serve as a testament to the potential of innovation, collaboration, and a passion for reimagining the drinking experience. 

Key Takeaways

  • Blending Cultures: Fuglen's journey from Oslo to Tokyo exemplifies the interplay of cultures and influences. The cafe/bar concept successfully bridges Scandinavian design and coffee culture with Japan's vibrant and tradition-rich bar scene.  
  • Daytime Coffee Culture: Fuglen's daytime ambience attracts coffee enthusiasts and baristas who share an appreciation of different brewing techniques and quality coffee.  
  • Innovative Cocktail Scene: Transitioning to the evening, Fuglen transforms into a hub of innovation, offering cocktails that challenge conventional norms, especially within Tokyo's traditional bartending scene.   
  • Culinary Cocktail Pairings: Fuglen Tokyo stands out for its innovative cocktails and creative food and drink pairings, using local ingredients to craft cocktails that harmonise with the flavours of unique dishes.   
  • Concept Expansion: Fuglen now has several venues in Japan and was commissioned for cafe projects by contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, which speaks to their concept's growing influence and appeal. 

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