Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi
- 1-11-1 Pacific Century Place, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-6277, Japan
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2021
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- Hilton Tokyo Odaiba, Japan; ANA Intercontinental Hotel Tokyo, Japan
- Tokyo, Japan
- Tokyo YMCA International Hotel School
Head Bartender Koichi Urata combines a passion for mixology with a deep understanding of Tokyo’s beverage landscape to deliver highly personalized and memorable drinking experiences at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. With a penchant for getting to know his patrons, his favourite part of the job is seeing familiar faces return to the venue again and again: “It means we are doing something right,” he notes with a smile.
What first piqued Urata’s interest in bartending was a chance visit to a Tokyo hotel bar, where he witnessed the elegant bartender at work: “Everything he did was so smooth – from the way he could read the room and pick up on what people needed, to the manner in which he would gently approach guests and present them with their drink at the perfect moment.”
It was his thoughtfulness, as much as his skill at crafting drinks, that has stayed with Urata all these years. Today, a similar intuitiveness defines his own approach to hospitality. “What can we do for our guests? That’s the question we keep asking ourselves. People come to us for different reasons – to relax, to connect, to celebrate. Our role is to provide an escape from daily routine through caring service and thoughtful touches.” For this bartender, the ultimate success is when his guests leave feeling happier and better than when they first walked in.
After graduating from the Tokyo YMCA International Hotel School, Urata honed his skills across diverse outlets in Tokyo’s premier luxury hotels. Along with completing his bartending qualifications, he developed an intricate real-world understanding of drinking preferences – from local residents to globetrotting travellers. As his knowledge of spirits expanded, his craft was imbued with a greater attention to detail. “Back when I first started mixing cocktails, I would feel uneasy – what if my drinks weren’t good enough?” he says. “But by concentrating on the task at hand, perfecting every step of the process, my nervousness vanished. Focus is the perfect antidote to anxiety.”
Now, as Head Bartender, Urata is excited to establish Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi as a social hub for local aficionados as well as in-house guests. “At SÉZANNE, we create highly original cocktails alongside an arrangement of standard drinks that complement Chef Daniel’s dynamic cuisine,” he explains. “Over at Maison Marunouchi, we offer a very approachable all-day beverage menu, be it brunchtime cocktails, after-work drinks or an informal meeting over a glass of wine.”
The bar team’s personalised approach makes Four Seasons a firm favourite among the Tokyo community. Indeed, the Hotel’s concept of boutique luxury resonates deeply with Urata: “Conversation is the secret to making a great bespoke cocktail. I love talking to my guests and getting to know them better. That’s how I can concoct something truly unique for them.” Guests visiting the iconic bar can choose from a range of classic drinks with an original twist, discovering an element of surprise in timeless preparations. Homemade syrups crafted from champagne and wasanbon lend exquisite bursts of flavour, and native Japanese ingredients such as soy sauce and hot spring water find a place in the cocktail list.
Employing innovative elements like vinegar, Urata and his team also curate an extensive selection of non-alcoholic mocktails. His creative approach adds a fresh flair to Maison Marunouchi’s afternoon tea, backdropped by superb views of the city.
Urata keeps his finger on the pulse of Tokyo’s mixology scene through his strong relationships with tastemakers and by visiting new bars as they spring up across the city. “Japanese gins are currently going through a renaissance, so you’ll definitely find those on our menu,” he says. “Tequila, another favourite in select circles, can also be found in our repertoire.”
His own favourite bars tend to be far from the city centre, and intensely atmospheric – guests are welcome to ask him about the hidden gems out in Roppongi! His perennial go-to drink? A smoky scotch on the rocks: “It’s strong at first but as the ice melts, the flavour gradually changes. You can enjoy distinct layers of experience within the same drink.”