Whisky Magazine Issue 85
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Dave Broom takes us to one of Osaka's many bars.
Osaka is a fast-paced city whose relentless energy soon turns what was intended as a gentle stroll around a few bars into a crazy night of chat, laughter and great drinks.
Maybe, I reflect in the hotel later (much, much later), Osaka suffers, as does Glasgow, Birmingham, Boston, Lyon, etc. from Second City Syndrome, a large conurbation which is somehow always in the shadow of a more famous compatriot and, as a result, wants to prove itself. Second cities, it strikes me, do this through friendliness and going the extra distance to make you welcome.
Great service is taken as given in Japan, what I found in Osaka was genuine warmth, pride and a sense of community.
Even this sprawling city, with its low-rise housing stretching seemingly to infinity, has a tight bartending network. On this visit, I was passed like the baton in a relay between bars by eager bar owners. “You're not going to visit there?” said one barkeep, surprised that the itinerary didn't include what would be seen in most other cities as a rival establishment. “You must go!.” So insistent he got one of his staff to guide me there.
There isn't the more even-paced build which you get in Tokyo, here it's lets-pack-as-much-into-life-andthe- evening-as-we-can. As a result, though I could smell food I never got a chance to sit down and eat nor, somehow, did I want to – it was sufficient to snatch some takoyaki (octopus balls, smothered in spring onions, sauce and mayonnaise) as fuel between bars, and sett...