Mr. Shuzo Nagumo is a mad scientist behind the bar. With a twinkle in his eye and a firm stance when shaking, he has started a cocktail revolution in Tokyo that is a great departure from the cocktail bars we've become used to in Japan. That is: bartenders in tuxedos, gentle yet silent, each movement exacting and no detail missed. The drinks are precisely made, flair optional.
London-trained Mr. Nagumo embodies all of these traits, with a twist. He is youthful in demeanor and presents plenty of flair and creativity in his drinks. There is an energy in his bar and cocktail-making that is electrifying and is, shall I say, "new school". He is at the helm of a cocktail empire that's three locations strong in Tokyo, called Code Name Mixology. Yoko and I were lucky to get a seat at the bar at the Laboratory location near Tokyo and Nihonbashi stations, his newest bar.
Mixology Laboratory is a speakeasy. It's in a non-descript office building and you must walk up a few flights of stairs and only when you find the door, you must then figure out how to enter (it took us a couple minutes).
This evening, Mr. Nagumo was hosting a party from Pernod-Ricard, who he would be doing a larger event with on a future date. So we were able to witness the mad genius of Mr. Nagumo, who constantly makes his own bitters, infuses his own spirits (his foie gras vodka is of legend), spices and garnishes -- like these:
We learned that Mr. Nagumo likes to explore themes and telling stories through his drinks. He uses glassware and accessories as motifs that weave through his stories. For this drink, he wanted to invoke the people of the desert:
Brass stemmed cups:
Brass Martini cups!
A drink rimmed with Mr. Nagumo's own Umami Salt:
The Blue Cheese Cognac Martini:
This drink is a staple at Mixology -- it is made with cognac that Mr. Nagumo infused with blue cheese. The result is a drink that is both sweet and savory and viscous. And very umami-ful.
The Margherita pizza was a welcome respite from our week of soba and sushi. I know, such a tragic life.
We asked for extra fries. These french fry portions are not for Americans. However this dish was excellent.
PSA: buy Amarena cherries here.
Tom Yum Cooler with lime, tamarind and balsamic vinegar:
Clearly Mr. Nagumo enjoys combining all flavor profiles into one drink. The Tom Yum Cooler, another of Mixology's standards, was a meal in a sip -- savory and refreshing with plenty of bite.
We look forward to visiting Mr. Nagumo's Mixology bar in Akasaka the next time we are in town. The original Codename Mixology, opened in 2009, is just right downstairs from the Laboratory, on the 2nd floor.
Dai 3 Park Building 3F
1-6-1 Yaesu Chuoku Tokyo
T: +81 3-6262-3946
Photos by Yoko Kumano