The Whales of August

It’s not every day that alcohol and films are banded together, but to The Whales of August, the association can’t be more obvious. Tucked deep in the neighbourhood of Shibuya, the cosy bar specialises in movie-themed cocktails.

Movie-themed original cocktails 

The Whales of August - cocktails
Image credit: @hanbaatee

Named after the 1987 film, The Whales of August (八月の鯨) is a favourite for both film buffs and Tokyoites looking for a drink or two. 

The Whales of August - cocktails
Burlesque (left) and Alice in Wonderland (right).
Image credit: @hamadayoko

With more than 300 kinds of original cocktails on the menu, you may find yourself spoilt for choice. But all you have to do is pick your favourite title from the list, and a themed cocktail will be concocted and served based on the movie of your choice. 

The Whales of August - cocktailsCinema Paradiso.
Image credit: @gohan.oomori_

From foreign cult classics such as Alice In Wonderland to beloved animated flicks by Studio Ghibli, the extensive list on the menu stems from the owner’s love for the medium. 

The Whales of August - weathering with you cocktailWeathering With You cocktail.
Image credit: @chika1030y

The Whales of August - cocktails
The Phantom of the Opera (left) and Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (right).

Image credit: @_michi.hotel_

You’ll be hard-pressed to not find your favourite film on the menu. But if that happens, simply make a request and the bartender may oblige with their own interpretation – provided that they have seen the film before.  

Expect to be surprised

The Whales of August - menuImage credit: @papaya_tokyodate

In general, customers will have no idea what’s inside the drink, though the menu does indicate the base ingredient that’s used. If you’re looking to get pleasantly buzzed instead of hammered, avoid ones with hard liquor. 

The Whales of August - recipe bookRecipe book that’s given to customers.
Image credit: @meg_chics

Another way to suss out the flavour profile of the drink is through the movie genre. Action or horror films tend to have a stronger kick, while light-hearted animated flicks will be milder and sweeter. 

At the end of the visit, customers will even be given a palm-sized recipe book that contains the recipes for some of the movie-themed cocktails served at The Whales of August. 

The Whales of August Image credit: @__mikao_215

Prices for the drinks start from ¥450 (~USD3.46), though be prepared to fork out an additional ¥500 (~USD3.85) for the table charge, which is a fee for the compulsory appetiser that’s commonly served in bars and izakaya in Japan. 

How to get to The Whales of August

The Whales of August - entranceImage credit: @oiaki

If you’re a movie geek and a fan of surprises, the cavernous bar is a great place to spend your night until the sun comes up. 

As The Whales of August has become quite a popular hangout spot among the locals and international tourists, it tends to get packed, especially on the weekends. To avoid the crowd, visit during off-peak hours or on weekdays.  

The Whales of August - signImage credit: @yb.511

The Whales of August is just a short 2-minute walk from Shibuya Station. Exit via the Hachiko Exit, then walk towards Shibuya 109, a prominent landmark in the area. The bar is located in one of the alleys nearby, so keep an eye out for their sign. 

Address: 28-13 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, 150-0042 Tokyo
Opening hours: 6PM-4AM, Daily
Telephone: 0334-76-7238

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Cover image adapted from (clockwise from left): @chika1030y, @gohan.oomori_ and @_michi.hotel_

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