City Guide to Seoul

12 June, 2015

Le Chamber, B1 83-4 Cheongdam Dong

Le Chamber is Seoul’s best bar, according to a recent poll, and it’s easy to see why. Behind the stick is Sungmin Park, Korean Diageo World Class winner from 2013 and 2014 and, in support, owners and Seoul bar-world gurus Dohwan Eom and Jaejin Lim. The décor is plush in a moneyed Chesterfields-and-chandeliers sort of way. Step up to the bar which is stocked with great whiskies and waistcoated bartenders who know what to do with them. Or climb to the VIP room that surveys the classical expanse beneath from up high. This is the must-see bar of Seoul.

Mr Saimon Bar, 1st FL 655-7 Sinsa Dong 

For a more dressed down affair, head to Mr Saimon, who should not be confused with Ex-Scottish National Party leader Mr Salmond, though both have something of an obsession with Scotland. Whisky can be found on every wall (and the ceiling) except one, which has been saved for a map of Scotland. Owner Sungjin Ahn is one of Korea’s older guard, having bartended for more than 20 years, but drinks are far from old hat – he knocks up mean cocktails from super-premium soju or of course, his beloved scotch.

Vault +82, B1 95-15 Cheongdam Dong

A welcome drink sets the tone at Vault +82 – here hospitality is as meticulous as the construction of the drinks. If the ship’s captain, Sanghyun Park, is on duty, you’re in for top-notch kneeling attentiveness. The vast plateau of lounge space is very much the Korean style and makes you want to slip on your slippers in readiness for your dram. The drinks are something to behold. Though you might not have seen them make them, they have been created for the eyes as much as the taste buds. They make for beautiful, albeit temporary, art.

Coffee Bar K, 2nd FL 517 Unjuro Yeoksam Dong

Despite the name, Coffee Bar K is a pioneer cocktail bar. It was the first that brought Koreans cocktails with carved ice and the first to pass through the 100 whiskies mark. Opened in 2007, eight years on and there are now more than 400 expressions looking back at customers as they sit by the bar. Beneath the extensive rows of whisky are glasses that sparkle under the light and look as if they’ve been polished ready for your arrival. The style here is Japanese  (even if there is no longer a Japanese bartender working here) so expect immaculate skills and head bartender Sukho Son’s Triangle Shake to be so fast you’ll think he’s motorised.

Bar Lupin, 1st FL 84-18 Cheongdam Dong

According to Yoo, more than half of the top bars in Seoul have been opened since 2010. Lupin, at under two years old, is one of the new breed. Boss of the bar Ssami Choi has a classical approach and heads up a team that presents a Japanese-Korean hybrid style in this marble and leather-clad bar. This ice is perfectly chiselled and the smoked spirits smoked on site.  


La'Mel Clarke

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