A bar that seats 12 people and no one more, Twelve opened its third location in Cheongdam. Unlike the cramped Gyeongridan branch where you can easily fall nose-first into the person sitting next to you, the Cheongdam bar boasts a larger space that allows more than 12 people. Designed as a speakeasy, you may have trouble spotting the discrete signage (especially if you are bar-hopping and drunk), but follow the bar’s signature “XII” lit in yellow into the basement, and you’ll soon find the wooden entrance without hearing a single word from your already-drunk friend.
“I didn’t open the bar to please the customers’ requests for a location in Cheongdam,” says Kwon Byeong-su, the owner and bartender who often gets called out for his brusque manners. “The Gyeongridan bar was designed to mimic a “home bar,” like drinking from your living room, but this branch feels like the whole house.” The walls glow as if soaked in a diluted emulsion of Marciano cherries and the bar is spacious without being showy, just as a Cheongdam bar should be. An infusion of tea leaves and Tanqueray gin, the Earl Grey martini is served clean without the artfully carved out fruits, and if you’re not satisfied with the drink (or if your face shows it), the bartender will whip up another drink on the house. “At the end of the day, bars aren’t defined by concepts. It’s a place where you can have a good drink, enjoy, and leave,” Kwon adds. With fragrant cocktails, lounge-like rooms and bartenders sensitive to customers’ reactions, I resolve to often make the cut of twelve at Twelve.