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Like most elitist things, Undercote plays hard to get. For instance, you can only make a reservation through email. And if you don’t receive a follow-up text, you should have known you haven’t been booked. But on a recent Thursday night, the hostess was able to “squeeze” us into the half-empty speakeasy.
The T-shaped room beneath the Korean steakhouse Cote is dimly lit and all black but for the walls, which are adorned with vertical gardens, some set behind glass. It feels very reptile-house chic—you half expect to see a mounted placard delineating the origins of the poison dart frog.
This Mother Earth theme extends to the peculiar, NSFW botany-book menu: Most pages don’t list drinks at all, but are instead illustrated with plants and made-up erotic nicknames. The spiky Begonia melanobullata is listed as “a.k.a. SPANK ME” (no thanks), while the leafy Peperomia puteolata is seemingly “RIBBED FOR HER PLEASURE” (how thoughtful).
Sandwiched between these Georgia O’Keefe–esque pieces of art are the divine, but astronomically priced drinks. The Role Model and the Cola Nerve Tonic are $27 cocktails that are punched with whiskey, the former soothed by a smoky cocoa tinge and the latter imbued with herbal and floral notes. For sweeter sips, the Big Melons in Little Collins ($20) is rounded out with a nutty, sesame-seed–infused soju, while the juicy Raspberry Beret ($24) is reminiscent of a sour ale mixed with a melted fruit popsicle.
But the drinks alone can’t save the night. You’ll leave Undercote feeling the same way you do about most over-hyped experiences: overcharged and underwhelmed.