Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Whisky Bars in Kansai (4): Bar Oaks Dram, Osaka

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo
Kitashinchi is to Osaka what Ginza is to Tokyo: the concentration of bars - catering to various tastes and needs - is so high that you could easily stay in one and the same building and visit a dozen bars in one and the same evening. As said, these bars target a wide variety of clientele so, unless you know exactly where to go, the whole experience will be a bit bewildering and not without risk. That’s where we come in. We already featured the excellent Bar K in one of our earlier instalments and today, we’re thrilled to be able to introduce another oasis for the thirsty whisky enthusiast, Bar Oaks Dram.
When you enter the bar, two things will strike you - that is, if you haven’t been to too many other watering holes before you arrive at Oaks Dram -: the artworks on the walls and the four recent Karuizawa releases for La Maison du Whisky on the counter. There’s a connection. The artist who designed the labels for the Karuizawas is the same as the one responsible for the artworks on the walls. Yuuka Yamada is now based in Paris but she hails from Osaka and happens to be a friend of Oaks Dram bartender-owner Yoshihiko Ito - a small world, indeed.
The painting greeting you when entering Oaks Dram depicts Ito-san at work at the Cellar Bar of the Rihga Royal Hotel Osaka, where he used to work before opening his own place in 2005. Another painting at the far end of the bar shows an imaginary warehouse and there are loads of other smaller whisky/bar-inspired works in various nooks and crannies. Even without any drinks, this would be a great place to hang around for a while. Luckily, there is loads to enchant the taste buds with, too.
Ito-san has a great selection of standard releases and special Japanese bottlings - we tried a lovely 40yo Glenfarclas (ltd. 300 bottles) for Kansai Airport - but it’s clear where his own passions lie: Bowmore and Macallan. He traces his love for Bowmore back to the first time he visited the distillery (in 1996). He was staying at the Lochside Hotel, tried the first edition of the Black Bowmore there and fell head-over-heels in love. At his own bar, he’s got heaps of old Bowmores (Gold, White, Bicentenary, 1968  and so on). He also stocks a great selection of Macallans and has some phenomenal gems from independent bottlers, as well. Be sure to ask Ito-san because what you see behind the counter is only part of what he’s got - there’s loads more in the backroom.
Bar Oaks Dram is one of our favourite hangouts in Osaka: the elegant interior, the artworks, the whisky selection and the atmosphere created by Ito-san… it all comes together in an experience that’s like our image of the ideal home bar. We can’t imagine a visit to Osaka without stopping by Oaks Dram. Next time you’re in town, check it out for yourself… chances are you’ll be hooked, too.
Address: Ikari Building (5F), 1-6-12 Sonezaki-shinchi, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0002
Tel: 06-6344-8655
Hours: Mon-Fri 6pm-3am, Sat 6pm-0am, closed Sunday & Holidays


Chris Bunting said...

Looks great. Love the photos.

G Koo said...

here's a link to gurunavi's map location for this establishment. I plan to visit in the near future :)