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Down the rabbit hole into a cool Cheongdam bar

Rabbits and roses take over a cool bar. An Alice in Wonderland themed speakeasy.

Written by
Michelle JY Park

Hell Cat Maggie was an Irish female gangster with pointed teeth and brass fingernails and if you ever go to “The Dead Rabbit” in New York, you can order the drink that’s named in her honor. At London’s “Artesian”, drink-connoisseurs dip their straws in a rectangular glass aquarium adorned with exotic flowers (no fish included). Although such bars often top world rankings, they’re a rare sight in Seoul. Sure, the mini shark that swims around at Cheongdam’s “Y1975” is cute but how about a little fantasy and fiction in the mix?

You can find it now behind the Louis Vuitton and Isabelle Marant flagship stores in the discrete alleyways of Cheongdam. A circular store signage hangs over the venue that’s only recently opened up this past April, but the name of the bar is not marked. On it is a mere image of a white rabbit with a bow tie, holding a glass of wine. Follow the rabbit on the sign down a winding flight of stairs, and you’ll find a flower store. In the corner of the shop is a wooden door with a familiar signage. It’s that damn rabbit again with the sleek bow tie. When it finally hits you that you’ve just followed The White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and past the garden, somewhere out there, you may hear the faint laughter of Lewis Carroll.   

Alice, a lounge style bar, serves experimental cocktails and equally bizarre bar snacks. Swing the wooden door open, and the first thing that comes into view is the fair-haired hostess Martha, with her pocket watch gleaming on the counter to follow. The clock points to 12 o’ clock, but the hands don’t budge an inch. The bar and lounge space mimics the airs of an English mansion with sofas to sink into, and ceilings that resemble the surface of a chocolate bar. Swing jazz music with an EDM twist adds to the lively mood. Order the ‘Alice Boutique’ from the signature cocktail list, and the bartender will whip up a gin tonic flavored with grapefruit juice, emitting a white cloud food grade nitrogen gas. The cocktail comes served in a glass shaped like an elephant, in which the ‘nose’ section functions as an attached straw. The bar’s dedication to eclecticism doesn’t end here. At the touch of a button, bartenders can make drink glasses magically appear from the bar table and the bathroom with its camouflaged walls are a mysterious find, too.

There’s no real magic or voodoo trickery involved at Alice but the bar’s is built to foster a fairy tale for the souls tired of everyday life. The owner, who has worked as a hotel bartender for over ten years, boils Alice down to one word: detail. His efforts are evident in the very fact that it took him two years to find the appropriate land to construct such a bar and story. Although the cover charge is 10,000 won, hydrated chips are served instead of the regular peanuts and cheese balls, and a glass of Cava wine is also included in the price. If you are looking for a fantastical hole to salvage your soul, find the White Rabbit of Cheongdamland. The magic lies down the rabbit hole.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Cheongdam-dong
  • price 3 of 4

Alice, a lounge style bar, serves experimental cocktails and equally bizarre bar snacks.

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