L'Escamoteur Bar, nestled on the second floor of a brick-clad building on Kiyamachi Street in Kyoto's Shimogyo-ku district, is a cocktail bar quite unlike any other. In this bustling, contemporary district, centered around Kyoto Station's energetic hub, L'Escamoteur offers a unique respite from the commercial intensity of the city.
The ambiance inside L'Escamoteur is a concoction of magic shop mystery, old-time apothecary charm, and a hint of a modern-day laboratory. "L'Escamoteur Bar is a walk-in bar themed around magic, but not in any type of gimmicky way. The drinks are crafted with expert skill and attention using high-quality ingredients," writes one Yelp reviewer, describing the bar as an "absolute spectacle."
The Magician: Christophe Rossi
Upon entering, you're immediately drawn to the intriguing steampunk-themed décor of the bar, evoking an atmosphere of whimsical enchantment. Exposed brick walls, dangling leather couches suspended from the ceiling, and books levitating via a pulley system, all under the soft glow of Edison bulbs, set the stage for an immersive experience.
L'Escamoteur, French for magician, comes alive with the magic tricks and spellbinding performances of the owner and bartender, Christophe Rossi, and his team. Rossi, a former magician from France, himself (hence the bar's name) infuses his passions for magic, theater, apothecary, and chemistry into the very heart of L'Escamoteur.
Rossi ensures that every detail contributes to this otherworldly atmosphere. "I work on every little detail to create that atmosphere," he reveals. This meticulous dedication extends to the bar's showmanship, where each cocktail comes with its own theatrical presentation.
The Cocktails: Where Magic and Taste Converge
But the real magic of L'Escamoteur lies in its expertly crafted cocktails, which Rossi calls "remedies for the soul." Using a mix of old French liqueurs, herbal spirits like absinthe, and fresh fruits and herbs sourced from local markets, Rossi and his team tailor each cocktail to the guests' tastes. The presentation of each drink is a spectacle in itself, often involving elements of sleight of hand, or cocktails enveloped in swirling smoke.
The bar's expansive cocktail menu, contained within the "Book of Remedies," features over 40 original cocktails that appeal to a wide range of flavor profiles. Standouts include the "Kyoto Gardens," a tribute to the city that harmoniously blends Ki no Bi, Japan's first craft gin, with punchy yuzu citrus liqueur, lemon, egg white, simple syrup, and Kyoto's signature matcha.
"We've developed many creations of our own," Rossi shares, underscoring their approach to creating unique drink experiences. Yelp reviewers recommend the Smoky Old Fashioned, the Fudo Myo-o, the Death in Provence, the Botanical Connection, and the Shiso Sour, among others. The spectacle of liquid fire, spritzing flames, and billowing smoke accompanying these creations not only captivates the audience but also heightens the taste of the meticulously crafted drinks.
Discover the Magic Yourself
While L'Escamoteur's style has often been likened to Victorian, steampunk, or even "Harry Potter," Rossi insists that it is, in fact, a blend of all the things he loves. This multi-faceted inspiration has led to L'Escamoteur being recognized as one of Kyoto's top cocktail bars, even earning a place among the World's 50 Best Bars, and easily one of the best cocktail bars in Japan.
L'Escamoteur maintains a few grounded rules: it's a cash-only venue, and being a small space, it can get crowded quickly, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. No reservations. And remember, prepare for an experience that transcends the ordinary.
As Rossi puts it, "Beyond the fire and smoke, it's people coming here and opening up to their unique, true selves — that is when the real magic happens."
In this fusion of enchanting ambiance, mesmerizing performances, and extraordinary drinks, L'Escamoteur offers more than just a night out — it offers an unforgettable experience, a 'remedy for the soul.' Whether you're a cocktail connoisseur, an admirer of the magical arts, or simply seeking a different kind of bar experience, L'Escamoteur Bar awaits to bewitch you with its unique charm. Make sure to bring along plenty of yen, as you'll be tempted to sample multiple potions from their magical menu.