Liquor Innovation Co., Ltd. stepped into new territory when the company opened its first all-you-can-drink shochu bar, HAVESPI, on the edge of Shinjuku’s lively 3-chome (pronounced san choh may). Just a two second walk from exit C6 of Shinjuku Sanchome subway station (Toei Shinjuku Line), this sixth floor bar has enough space for 60 shochu drinkers.
There’s also plenty of space for the shochu. HAVESPI plans to always have at least 100 labels on offer, enough to necessitate a few separate trips to this jovial establishment. The venue also plans to host occasional events related to the shochu and awamori from different parts of Japan. When we were there last week, we were able to sample awamori from Kochi Prefecture. Awamori, of course, is almost entirely made in the islands of Okinawa Prefecture.
If your brain is still hooked on the “all-you-can-drink” part of the first paragraph, let us explain. For 3,240 yen (tax included, we’ll call it US$30, basically), you can drink as much shochu as you like for as long as you like. Well, until they close at 11 PM actually. If you arrive right when they open at 5 PM, then you can get a liver-testing six hour session in. On Saturdays they are also open from 12-4 PM for those that prefer to drink their lunch.
Speaking of lunch, HAVESPI doesn’t serve it. The bar does not have a kitchen which helps them keep costs down and offer an affordable all-you-can-drink deal. Not to worry, however, because the bar allows you to bring your own food in with you.
Another reason why this shochu bar is worth a visit is that they stock a decent mixing counter that allows revelers to mix their own shochu cocktails. There’s a recipe book for those that want to make something tried and true, but the shop manager is a former bartender and is happy to assist in the creation of original drinks. In addition to citrus garnishes, the bar has coolers with fruit juice and flavored sodas. There are even a few fruit shochu liqueurs that people can experiment with. A separate bar featuring more than 100 such liqueurs and umeshu will open on July 22nd one floor below HAVESPI.
Liquor Innovation also has four sake bars around Tokyo that operate under a similar system. One of the sake bars happens to be in the same building as HAVESPI on the fourth floor.
No word yet on whether patrons will be allowed to move between the three places after having paid at one of them. However, if you’re hoping to keep your hangover to a minimum, we’d recommend staying on the sixth floor.