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Toki Listening Bar Launches at Seed Library London

Inspired by the Japanese listening bars of the 20th century, this pop-up adds a modern twist on the classic concept.

By Toby Louch

Exclusively for the month of November, the House of Suntory has launched Toki Listening Bar at Seed Library, the classy cocktail haunt within the One Hundred Shoreditch Hotel. Occurring during a key period in the history of the House of Suntory — its centenary year — this collaboration brings the essence, vibe and exceptional grooves of Japanese listening bars, to the streets of London.

From November 1 though 30, a variety of specially curated cocktails that include the Japanese blended whisky, Toki, will be available at the aptly named Toki listening bar.

It’s quite clear where ‘Toki’ comes from, but what about ‘listening bar?’ Listening bars began in Japan as haunts for jazz lovers to visit, for the specific purpose of listing, rather than the music simply occupying the background. More recently, this concept has regained popularity seeing listening bars pop up all over the world.

Alongside this intriguing new selection of cocktails, there will be a series of vinal mixes from MAJ (My Analog Journal). The aim of the game is to reconjure the cool feel of the Japanese listening bars that began to pop up throughout Tokyo during the 1950s. With a selection of vintage Japanese funk records spinning on the turn table, a trip to Seed Library is like stepping back into the ‘Golden Age’ of Japanese bar culture.

Cocktail at toki listening bar
Visiting Seed Library is like taking a trip inside a record station / ©House of Suntory

Already lauded for its intimate DJ booth, visitors to Seed Library will have their night soundtracked by a selection of mixes, each representing the decades of Japanese musical influence from the fifties to today. Additionally, every Thursday will see guest DJs perform alongside My Analog Journal Artists, including MAJ founder Zag Erlat.

Visitors looking for the ultimate experience should consider taking a trip to Toki Listening Bar at Seed Library on November 22. For one night only, there will be an exclusive bar takeover by renowned Japanese bartender Hidetsugu Ueno, visiting from Tokyo’s Bar High Five. During this exclusive evening, guests can sample a unique menu of Suntory Highballs, crafted by Ueno.

Seed Library has always had a close connection to music, visiting is like taking a trip inside a record station. Wood paneling and bespoke furniture upholstered in warm tones bring the 1970s feel.

[See also: The Fife Arms Releases First Single Cask Whisky]

The Cocktails

Toki listening bar cocktail
The varied new menu has something for everyone / ©House of Suntory

For those looking for a sneak peek at this new Toki Listening Bar cocktail menu, some of the drinks included are:

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The High Five HighballToki whisky, cold soda, and a selection of optional garnishes

Shinjiro Daisy: Toki whisky, lemon, sunflower, pumpkin seed amazake and raspberry leaf bitters

Red Ball Sazerac:  Toki whisky, English currants, and white absinthe

Kazu Martini: Haku vodka, Kasu “cured” lemon and dry vermouth

Calamansi Mule: Roku gin, galangal, citrus and ginger beer

Those looking to visit can book via the Seed Library Website; walk-ins are also accepted.

[See also: The Most Expensive Whisky Ever Sold at Auction]

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