That's Not A Bar!
I'm going to start this first drink post with a fun story. I have been living in Korea for the past two years now. I have missed a few things from the U.S. including food, drinks, music, friends, and the beach. I have been able to find some things for the most part, but there are some things that are hard to come across over here. You guessed it. A proper bar. This story begins when my girlfriend and I were walking around our neighborhood. We had just finished eating and we were looking for a place to get a drink and relax. We had just finished work and it was a Friday night so we decided we would just walk and go inside whatever looked accommodating. We passed many restaurants. Here's some context, it's completely legal to drink alcohol outside in Korea. There is no open container law banning alcohol outside of restaurants. As a result, it has become normalized to drink alcohol while you are eating. Normally I feel like its common practice in the U.S. to go to a bar after 5pm, but over here, it’s fine to drink it any time as long as you aren't being a public nuisance. They even put out tables and chairs in the patio of convenient stores where people just hang out and smoke cigarettes, have a beer or soju, and shoot the shit.
Anyway, because casual drinking has become so easy as well as the fact that a bottle of soju is roughly $1.50; bars are essentially unnecessary. So while my girlfriend and I were walking down the promenade so to speak, we saw a place on the second floor. It was titled Queen Bar. We had just watched the TV series 'Broad City' and we made a few Yas Queen jokes before we decided that this was the place to be. We walked up the stairs to the second floor and we entered. The inside looked really well kept. It had an oak wood bar with stainless steel and leather swivel bar stools to the left. On the right were some booths with leather seats and wooden circular tables. I thought it looked pretty cool, but something was off. Each booth had curtains that reached to the bottom of the floor and they were only drawn shut when people were inside. Also when we walked in, all of the waitresses started laughing. Initially I had thought it was because we were foreign and they couldn't speak enough English to help us. When I asked for a menu, the drinks were so expensive. A regular draft beer was $15. The menu was geared so that you would decide to buy a bottle of liquor for $200 because it was a better bang for your buck. While this turned me off, the waitresses said that girls couldn't sit at the bar. If we wanted to be at the bar, I could only sit there while she had to sit at a booth. This was ridiculous, but once all of this happened in a matter of 15 seconds, I realized that this was a talking bar and not a regular bar. I had my reservations about going inside at first because I knew that some of these existed, but there was a glimmer of hope that a real bar existed. It was pretty funny and we ended up leaving quickly to find a foreigner bar nearby. We wanted to try a different bar, but what we realized was that there weren't many regular bars that only served alcohol. The word bar doesn’t have the same meaning as back at home. I have noticed that many of the bars that we consider bars are named pubs or Hof bars. Many bars in Korea are either cheap variations of gastro pubs or they are talking bars. For those of you who don't know by now what a talking bar is; it's basically an escort bar. You go there pay for drinks, a girl comes to talk to you while you have the option to buy her drinks, then you can mosey on over to a private area and shut the curtains. I guess the rest is up to you and the girl. Why can't there be more regular bars with modest priced drinks where you can enjoy the evening? Haha oh well. That being said, there are bars in Korea that are real, but ones that know how to make drinks or stock the right ingredients are hard to find unless you are in the foreign areas. We can’t complain too much when the price of Soju is so cheap and the alcohol content is up to 18 percent per bottle. The quest for beer. Looks like the journey continues.
These two great drinks are Hibiki High Balls
-Fill up your glass with ice cubes (be really cool and get a spherical ice mold for fancier occasions)
-pour one part Hibiki Suntory Whiskey
pour 1 1/2 parts mineral water
-Put on an album by Nujabes and enjoy your night!