A bar in Diani with Tokyo cocktails


Cocktail. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A day after Valentine’s Day the Japanese invaded Diani. They came silently by air. There were no air sirens though. There were two of them— Shingo Gokan and Mita Reoma— both deceptively good-looking in that perilous way that only the Japanese can pull. The two then set up at the Funky Monkey cocktail bar and proceeded to cause a riot with their cocktails.

Mita Reoma is the head bartender at the SG Club in Tokyo, which holds the number 14 spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars. Shingo is the rockstar, the cocktail aficionado who started bartending at 18 and owns the SG Club in Tokyo and three bars in Shanghai called Speak Low, Sober Company, and Odd Couple. You can tell these guys are a riot, right?

I was not even supposed to be there but the previous day I had run into Ritchie Barrow in rad beach shorts while having lunch at Pallet Cafe by the beach and he said, “We have a small thing at Funky Monkey, come through.” So we rocked up, my lady and I.

Those two Japanese fellows had drawn an impressive crowd. Someone placed a sweaty cocktail called (ironically) Tokyo in my hand; Hendricks gin, Tomato, Dill, Elderflower, and mastic and, in my lady's hand, Okinawa; Monkey Shoulder, Kokutu de Lequio, mascarpone, coffee, milk, cocoa. “How does yours taste?” I asked her.

Interesting, She said, yours? Mine tasted like spring in Tokyo, not that I’ve been to Tokyo but that’s how I choose to imagine it. [She rolled her eyes.] I saw Kairuku Mukii of William Grant and Sons working the room. One of his brands, The Monkey Shoulder was sponsoring the shindig. It felt like we were witnessing a wedding we had crashed between Monkey Shoulder and Funky Monkey. They would surely have a child called Ocean Monkey.

The deejay was amazing. The waiter staff at Funky Monkey are always switched on. I saw the undeclared mayor of Diani, Amani Maranga, telling his tall tales and later I collared to give us a ride back to our hotel.

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