One of the most common questions I get asked by Niseko visitors is, ‘Where should we go for a couple of drinks tonight?’. It’s a fair question – if you’re on holiday enjoying the best snow of your life, chances are good that you’re going to feel like partying!
I have a few favourites around Hirafu town, so whether it’s for that first lip-smacking beer after a long day of shredding, or for a fruity cocktail on a Friday night, read on for an insider’s suggestions on the best Hirafu watering holes.
Tamashii was renovated last year and now offers a bigger pool table, additional dartboards, and an extended bar courtesy of fallen comrade Paddy McGinty’s. This is my favourite place to come for a few cheeky après beers and to watch the footy on the big screen. It’s also the perfect start to a big night, and I’d like to put in a special mention for the tasty green shots that are bartender Keshia’s secret recipe! It’s only open till midnight, so get in early or you’ll turn into a pumpkin.
2. The Barn
While The Barn is primarily a restaurant and a damn fine one at that, the bar lounge upstairs is well worth a visit if you feel like sipping a cocktail rather than quaffing a beer. The front door girl might be a bit snooty about letting you in without a reservation, but once you’re upstairs you’ll find the bartenders make the best cocktails in town. I am a particular fan of their Strawberry Daquiri, and let me tell you I have tried a few of those in my time! All in all, a great place to go for something a little special.
This multi level bar has been the scene of many a late night out, and their punch bowls, cocktails, and red cup specials make for a festive drinking experience. Head in early to enjoy one of their famously huge burgers, and make sure you try the truffle mayonnaise! The pool table and wooden interior makes it a good place to segue from après into big night out, but be careful not to stumble down the spiral staircase.
Barunba is a hole-in-the-wall bar that serves absolutely diabolical cocktails. I have more than a few friends who have had to call it a night after trying the Jet Li, the Bruce Lee, or the Bruce Willis! The low ceilings and leafy décor create a somewhat surreal atmoshpere, especially when combined with the clouds of cigarette smoke. For a truly unique experience, stop off here on your tour of the town for at least one!
5. Edge Bar
Hirafu’s only dedicated nightclub, Edge is a new addition this year and has proved a stroke of entrepreneurial genius. Open late, hosted underground, and offering a variety of DJs and a constant stream of ad hoc drink specials, it is the inevitable destination for all those who want to extend their Niseko party as much as possible.
Well I am sure you’re all thinking I’m a drunk by now, so I am going to sign off. Just to dig myself further into a pit of indignity, I’d like to add that all the establishments above have reasonably priced drinks, although the cocktails at The Barn are understandably a little more expensive.
Maybe I’ll see you out at one of the quality establishments above at some point tonight – it is Sunday Funday after all!