Yokohama is a port city known for its vibrant craft beer scene, Chinese food, and sports bars. Rarely do you ever hear of there being a real traditional bar establishment, especially one catering to the more sophisticated crowd. Bar Noble is that bar, and is perhaps the most upscale bar I have ever set foot in, and is on a par equal to that of the great bars in Midtown, Roppongi Hills, and the Ginza. When passing through the wooded doorway you instantly identify with the timeless beauty and allure of what I consider to be a classy bar.
When a real bar comes to mind I think of gorgeous mahogany counter tops, dimly lit ambient lighting arrangements, well-dressed bartenders with stoic faces, a light tune playing from some distant speaker somewhere, by some forgotten great whose name I can quite remember, but is somewhere on the tip of my tongue. I love the extra added care and attention to detail placed on my drink, and the level of service and special care I receive from the bartender. I love the whole mood of a bar like this, but I never thought I would ever discover such a place in Yokohama City, at least not one that exemplified such elegance and refinement.
While seated at the bar I immediately noticed the quality of the counter top as I ran my hand along its smooth surface. While admiring the shine of freshly polished wood, I noticed that the bar counter felt different. Bar Noble's counter top is made of Zelkova Serrata wood, in Japanese it's called Keyaki, or Japanese Zelkova, which is a type of smooth soft warm wood most often used for making bonsai trees and taiko drums. In North America you may see either Mahogany or Oak counter tops, so for me, this was a rare exposition of wood decor. The counter top is the iconic symbol of any "bar" experience.
Inside Bar Noble, you may notice patrons either ordering up whole bottles of Courvoisier and sharing it with their business associates over exotic cheeses and crackers, or you'll notice couples exchanged intimate words over fruit inspired cocktails with cherries around the rim of their glasses. The table charge is ￥700 and comes with appetizers each uniquely paired to whatever you are drinking. There are about 500 kinds of alcohol at Bar Noble, and the bartenders are all very knowledgable, not only about the standard cocktails like Gin & Tonic, but also more exotic cocktails with cognac and fresh cream as a base. Standard cocktails are between the 900 - 1100 yen price range. Fruit inspired cocktails can get a little more pricey at around 1300 - 1500 yen price range.
The real reason I came to Bar Noble was because I needed to try the March 11th inspired cocktail that won the World Cocktail Championship, which was held in Poland in November of 2011. The cocktail is called [the Great Sunrise] and was a creation of Mr. Yamada, the owner and head bartender at Bar Noble. The drink is a vibrant yellow which symbolizes hope for the victims of the March 11th disaster. One ingredient that really set this cocktail apart was the acai berry juice, a small dark purple fleshy fruit. My initial impressions were vivid, refreshing, and clean. It is a vodka - based drink that's a little sweet, smooth and refreshing. Wonderfully clean finish with good aromatics. You can feel the sunrise right up into your mouth.
We then ordered up an assorted mix of cocktails after finishing are Sunrises. I ordered the rum based sweet potato and nutmeg cocktail. Real sweet potato was blended with a hand blender right there in front of me on that big black shiny Zelkova wood counter top. Watching as the finished products was poured into an elegant stemmed cocktail glass was textbook bar-tending at its finest. My partner ordered the Strawberry Mojito, made with fresh strawberries mashed in a decorative glass mixer, and then garnished with mounds of mint leaves and served up with ice. The night was progressing smoothly and wonderfully.
There are five bartenders, but only three were working the counter the night I went, and all three were dressed to impress. The counter seats seven. There are other intimate tables for two away from the bar, but I do not advise sitting anywhere but the bar counter. Another thing I especially like was how each bartender stood by to answer any questions about the cocktails they made. The bartender made recommendations to us that were based off of our previous cocktails. So if I ordered a rum based cocktail then he/she would make a recommendation that was either very similar or an alternative choice that worked well.
Getting there is pretty straight-forward. You can get off at JR Kannai Station via the Keihin Tohoku Line. Cross the main intersection near where a large thoroughfare with pachinko parlours. Once across the main intersection turn right and walk straight until you reach Yoshidamachi Street. Ask someone if your bearings get tricked up. The police box should be on your right hand side. Turn left on Yoshidamachi and you should see Bar Noble on the corner. It's easy to miss, so pay attention to your location. As for dress code, I'd recommend business casual.
Yokohama Naka Ward
Open all year. Hours 6:00 pm–3:00 am