Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bar Martha, Ebisu

There's a whole genre of 'music bars' in Tokyo. The basic thing is the sound system, and then they'll play a certain genre of music.

In the case of Martha, located on a small but exciting street on the southeast side of Ebisu, the stereo is massive and old-fashioned. In this picture you can see the blue dials of a MacIntosh amp, a solid 10 glowing 'big-bottles' of tube power, and the fabric-covered, refrigerator-sized hulks of some top-class Tannoy speakers (Westminsters, judging by the size). You can't see any of that, can you? Trust me, I was there.

The rest of the walls behind the bar are packed with records. Another differentiating factor in music bars is what they do with the records...or let you do. Martha has a sensible policy: "One request per table." Choose carefully.

You need not be so careful in choosing snacks from the well-filled jars on all the tables. Any bar that supplies giant corn, fried peas, chocolate barley, and two other snacks, without charge...that's my kinda bar.

This is what I really loved though. I asked the waitress for a cocktail involving Chartreuse - what can I say, I just wanted something odd to round out the night. She was puzzled but went to the bar for it. There was conversation. I approached the bar, the waitress and a junior bartender faded away, leaving a more senior-looking bartender who said "Well, the normal thing is a Green Alaska, with gin." The drink was well-made, but I like a bar with bartenders who know some drinks and are also willing to recommend something. Just like I can recommend Martha.

Best part is that they have 5 similar bars on the west side of Tokyo.

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