Hello! This is UNWIND HOTEL&BAR Otaru‘s front desk staff Takahashi.
For those who have never been to a bar, are interested in bars but have never been to one, or are lacking the courage to visit one for the first time, we asked the bartender at BAR IGNIS Otaru, which is located within our hotel, what makes bars so special and why you should visit one.
We hope that this article will make it a little easier for you to visit our hotel bar.
Click here to make a reservation at UNWIND HOTEL&BAR Otaru.
We asked bartender Hirata-san at BAR IGNIS Otaru why you should experience the hotel bar and how you can still have a good time without any experience at bars.
What is the difference between bars and hotel bars?
Takahashi Thank you for your time today. Getting right to it, what do you think is the difference between bars and hotel bars?
Hirata Thank you for having me. Hmm, the difference between bars and hotel bars? The first difference has to be location. Hotel bars are inside the hotel so that is naturally an advantage.
Takahashi I see. What makes it an advantage to have the bar inside the hotel?
Hirata There are two advantages. Guests want to be able to go home immediately, so even if they drink and get a little bit drunk, they don’t need to worry about the long route home. Second, since hotel bars are located in a hotel, hotel staff are naturally stationed at the front desk, so it is less intimidating for first-timers to go to the bar because they can ask the front desk staff about opening hours and rough prices when checking in to the hotel.
Takahashi It is true that it is nice to be able to drink without worrying about the way home! And since you can ask a lot of questions beforehand, you don’t have to go to a bar without knowing anything and be surprised when you see the price. I’m also glad that I don’t have to go to a bar without knowing anything about it and be surprised when I see the price.
Hirata Exactly! Once you are seated, it’s hard to say, “I’m leaving,” even if you are surprised at the price (laughs).
Why does not having a door make the bar more friendly?
Takahashi Are there other advantages to hotel bars?
Hirata This is just limited to BAR IGNIS Otaru, but there isn’t a door to the entrance. This means the bar is designed to be quite friendly to those who are unfamiliar with bars.
Takahashi Is it easier when there isn’t a door to the bar?
Hirata Yes, because there are no doors, you can see what’s going on inside the bar from a distance, and if you’re not used to bars, you often feel uneasy because you don’t know what kind of customers or bartenders are there or even the atmosphere of the bar. But I think that my anxiety will be relieved because I can always see what’s going on in the bar.
Takahashi I see! So it’s a “friendly design” in that sense! I can feel the barriers to bars have been lowered a bit.
Why is communication key at bars?
Takahashi Do you have any tips on how to enjoy BAR IGNIS Otaru to the fullest?
Hirata Yes, I do! BAR IGNIS Otaru offers a wide variety of Hokkaido-related items on its menu. For example, we have cocktails such as the “Otaru Sea Festival,” which is made with sake from a brewery in Otaru.
Takahashi So do you recommend ordering this first?
Hirata No, I don’t necessarily mean that you should order this cocktail, but it is just a gateway to enjoying the bar. You can look at the menu and talk with your partner about a cocktail that interests you, or you can ask the bartender, “What kind of cocktail is this?”. It means it’s a chance to communicate.
Takahashi I see, so it isn’t about ordering a drink first but about establishing communication between you, your partner and the bartender. So what should someone inexperienced with bars order? Do you have any recommendations?
Hirata Other bartenders usually say if you come to a bar you should first order the gin and tonic, but even if you don’t do that I think it’s fine. You should order whatever you’re interested in. If you are interested in something on the menu, or if you have heard of something but have never had it before, you can ask the bartender what kind of cocktail it is, as I mentioned earlier.
Takahashi That’s a relief, knowing that if I have a problem I can always ask the bartender.
Hirata Of course! The most important thing is for people to enjoy themselves in a relaxed environment. It’s a little embarrassing to say, but bartenders are specialists in alcohol, so if you have any questions, just ask the professional in front of you.
Great, so it’s okay not to know anything about alcohol, but how should I order?
Takahashi By the way, can someone who only has vague knowledge about alcoholic drinks order? For example, is it possible to order a “summery cocktail,” “red cocktail” or “non-sweet cocktail”?
Hirata Of course it’s okay! I will suggest something suitable for you. Above all, it’s a great opportunity for us to chat with our customers!
Takahashi From what you said earlier, you are quite conscious of communicating with the customers. So you are saying that a bar is a place to enjoy socializing?
Hirata Yes, I think bars are such a place. If you just want to drink alcohol, you can enjoy it at home. I think a bar is a place where you can enjoy socializing with people and enjoy the atmosphere with a drink chosen by the bartender.
Takahashi A meeting place for adults…that makes me nervous (laughs).
Hirata Don’t worry about it so much (laughs).
What is the ingenuity of BAR IGNIS Otaru where you can relax and use the bar?
Hirata Actually, Bar Ignis Otaru is designed in such a way that you can come and relax. First of all, we offer a free wine service at the bar every day from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for guests only. If you come once during that time and actually spend time at the bar, you will feel more comfortable coming back during regular business hours.
Takahashi Well, now that you mention it, it’s true that you might be nervous about your first time at the bar, but if it’s your second time, it’s much easier to go.
Hirata That’s right. I think it is fun to look at the drinks on the shelves during the free wine time and think, “I might try that later.” Of course, if you are not sure about your choice of alcohol, please ask us. We have not only alcoholic drinks but also non-alcoholic cocktails, so even if your partner doesn’t drink, they are still more than welcome to come!
Takahashi Wow, you serve non-alcoholic cocktails too! The menu has something for everyone, I see. By the way, do you have any cocktail recommendations?
Hirata I recommend all of them, but right now I recommend this new strawberry and rose wine ball. We make new items depending on the season and events, so many customers come back during different seasons to enjoy them.
Takahashi It’s amazing to be able to look forward to new flavors all year round! By the way… this is one of the reasons why it’s so hard for inexperienced people to get in, but I know that many bars have a dress code.
Hirata Thank you. At BAR IGNIS Otaru we don’t have any rules, but we recommend that you wear something that fits the atmosphere of the bar. Still, it’s totally fine if you don’t wear a suit and tie.
Takahashi Thank you for clarifying.
So, in closing, may I ask you to say something to the people reading this?
Hirata Even customers with no experience with bars are welcome, so please feel free to visit us!
Takahashi Thank you, it’s a relief to hear that even customers new to bars can still enjoy their experience at BAR IGNIS Otaru. I will definitely check out the bar myself in my free time!
BAR IGNIS Otaru
Free Wine (Guests Only) 17:00~18:30
Regular Hours 19:30~23:30（LO 23:00）
Closed Days None
Dress Code Casual