After a long day of sightseeing in Japan’s former capital, don’t forget to try this Japanese take on Irish coffee right across the street from Kyoto Station.

There are beautiful temples, shrines, and gardens scattered all across Kyoto, but no matter which sightseeing path you take through Japan’s former capital, odds are you’ll eventually find yourself with some time to kill near Kyoto Station, as it’s the city’s only stop for the high-speed Shinkansen bullet train.

If you’ve got some extra time before you have to hop on the train, Kyoto Tower is just across the street, with a 100-meter (328-foot) high observation deck that offers nice views of the city. However, instead of heading up to the top of the tower, you can also head down into the basement of the Kyoto Tower complex, which was renovated this spring and now houses a collection of casual yet stylish local restaurants and bars.

On our recent trip, we grabbed a seat at the Sando Bar, looking to rest our feet and quench our thirst. Not sure if we wanted a relaxing alcoholic beverage or an invigorating cup of coffee, we found an option on the menu that let us satisfy both cravings: caffé latte with sake!

▼ The drink is called the Nihonshu Caffé Latte (日本酒カフェラッテ) in Japanese.

While it’s not entirely unheard of for sake to be used in cocktails in Japan, the practice isn’t as common as it is at trendy Asian-fusion restaurants overseas, and we’ve never heard of it being mixed into coffee. But once our initial shock wore off, we realized it just might work. After all, coffee and whiskey go well enough together in Irish coffee, so we figured why not give Sando Bar’s “Japanese coffee” a try?

We placed our order, but when the server placed our drink before us after a short wait, we thought there might have been a mistake, because the beverage looked like plain old iced coffee. A quick sniff, though, revealed the presence of alcohol as we could just detect some delicate sake notes in the aroma.

But though the alcohol is invisible to the eyes and hardly noticeable to the nose, your taste buds will know what’s going on right away. The Sake Caffé Latte has an alcohol kick that belies its unassuming appearance, and the use of local Kyoto-made sake lends a deliciously refined atmosphere to the experience.

That said, the amount of sake used is moderate enough to keep the flavor from getting harsh or the drinker from getting too drunk, once again in keeping with the city’s elegant character.

At just 580 yen (US$5.30), the Sake Caffé Latte is an affordable luxury you won’t need to call on divine assistance to pay for, and if you’ve got even more time to lounge around (perhaps while your more superstitious travelling companions visit the complex’s computerized fortune teller), Sando Bar also has caffé lattes mixed with Japan’s renowned Yamazaki Whisky for only 680 yen, giving us one more reason to travel to Kyoto again.

Restaurant information
Kyoto Tower Sando Bar / (京都タワーサンドバル)
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Shimogyo-ku, Karasumadori, Shichijo-sagaru, Higashishiokojicho 721-1, Kyoto Tower basement level 1
京都府京都市下京区烏丸通七条下がる東塩小路町721-1 京都タワービル地下1階
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s always looking for (and often finding) an excuse to take a weekend trip to Kyoto.

[ Read in Japanese ]