Have you ever wondered what the Dark side of the Force tasted like? How about the DeLorean from Back to the Future? Well, at one sci-fi-themed bar in Tokyo, the Sith are apparently made from energy liqueur, rum, cranberry juice, and cider, while time-traveling cars are surprisingly a lot simpler, tasting like a mix of Chartreuse and ginger beer. All those concoctions and more are waiting for you at Kanda Flux.
Kanda Flux is a cozy little bar near Kanda station in the center of Tokyo. It first opened seven years ago but not with the intention of helping people drink pop culture. In the beginning, the biggest draw of Kanda Flux was the massive collection of sci-fi memorabilia that still lines the walls of the bar today. From the minute you enter the establishment, ducking below their “Welcome to the Future” sign in that classic Back to the Future font and a replica of a flux capacitor, you instantly feel like you are in geek heaven.
From models of classic sci-fi vehicles to busts, weapon replicas, and figures of basically every robot/robotic character you can name, including a nearly-life-size Iron Man and the Maschinenmensch from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Kanda Flux at first glance looks more like a toy store than a bar. When I asked the bar’s manager, Suto Yuji, how many items do they have on display, he said even he doesn’t know. But he did bring my attention to some of their most interesting pieces.
“A lot of the props and goods that you see on the walls are Star Wars related," he says. "The owner is a huge Star Wars fan so that’s maybe not exactly our theme but something you will see most of at Kanda Flux: lightsabers, pictures, busts, etc. It’s all replicas but we do have a signed picture of someone who played a Stormtrooper and an autograph of the actor who played a young Boba Fett. We also have a figure of the Marshmallow Man signed by the character’s designer and animator, and a replica of Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future signed by Christopher Lloyd, and many more.”
The bar’s focus on Star Wars is not so surprising. Kanda, unlike the nearby Akihabara, the so-called geek capital of Japan, is primarily a business district populated by middle-aged and elderly office workers, and they were the ones for whom Kanda Flux was initially opened.
“The owner felt that those people would enjoy a drink while being surrounded by nostalgic goods from more classic sci-fi movies,” Suto explains. “But then superhero films like The Avengers have really taken off and we started getting more diverse guests. But our first customers were indeed old-school office workers. We weren’t really targeting young people at all. But then they just started coming to us.”
But through all its changes, Kanda Flux was resolute to remain one thing: a bar. As in, the sci-fi memorabilia were a nice touch, but in the end, people would be coming to the Flux to eat and drink. That’s why the bar has a respectable food menu featuring such geeky classics as the half-meat, half-veggie pizza from Back to the Future Part II, a pineapple and olive pizza you might recognize from Deadpool (plus, of course, chimichangas), and a variety of Sith-themed dishes dyed black. The drink menu is an entirely different world, though.
Kanda Flux boasts nearly 100 original, sci-fi/pop-culture-themed drinks based on everything from Star Wars to Blade Runner, anime and many more, including the Batman (peach, Jägermeister, orange juice, cola) or the Godzilla (rum, Midori, lime juice). The best-sellers are the Star Wars cocktails which come with little lightsabers in them or the colorful Spider-Man drink. And if you have a character that you love who isn’t on the menu, you can ask the bartender to invent a drink based on the character for you on the spot.
“Say you like Venom," Suto explains. "It’s not on the menu but we have a Venom recipe somewhere behind the bar. Whenever a new superhero or sci-fi movie comes out, we try to think up of new cocktail recipes based on the movies’ characters… If you said ‘Rhino’, well, we don’t have that recipe on hand but since the character is very powerful, I’d probably use an energy drink or an energy liqueur, and seeing as the character is Russian, I’d maybe use vodka."
"We don’t know every possible character out there, but if someone asks for a drink based on someone we don’t know, we can always Google them," he continues. "The rest is all about the skills of the bartender, and I think our staff is up to the task.”