This Humphrey Bogart of Hongdae bars hides on the basement level of the Vans Store. It’s not the top shelf alcohol, the first-class mixology or the classic décor that’ll have you falling in love – it’s the utter lack of pretentiousness. With expert bartender sense, Robin (the bar’s owner) and other staff are quick to tailor a drink according to your taste palate. Although our personal favorite is a Grey Goose and mascarpone cheese combination called the Porma Dulce, none of the drinks fail to deliver. This is the place to go if you want to impress someone. Easily one of the country’s best bars and definitely the most underrated; your first visit to Robin’s Square will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Posh. High-end. Sophisticated. All words that come to mind when you step into Le Chamber. From their pricing to their service, Le Chamber is a speakeasy that strives for the finest. Diageo World Class champions and owner-bartenders Eom Do-hwan and Lim Jae-jin offer seven-star service. Consecutive Korean champion Park Sung-min recently joined the star roster, garnering more interest. Their sign has no distinct shape or form, understandably so as a speakeasy, but the entrance to their basement is even more intriguingly mysterious. The entrance is shaped like a bookshelf, and only if you pick the right book will the door open. It's a classic mystery novel touch in a modern-day setting. With the recent growth of high-end bars like Vault +82 in Cheongdam, Le Chamber is at the top of our list of must-sees.
The boys down at Southside Parlor whip up a mean cocktail. Native Texans and friends Phil, Robbie and Johnny opened Southside in 2013 and have become beloved fixtures in Gyeongridan. Behind an unmarked fourth-floor door lies their spacious den full of leather couches, dartboards, hookahs and an 80s arcade game console. This ain’t no swanky Gangnam mixology lounge—Southside is a place where anyone can walk in and learn about cocktails. To keep their drinks accessible despite steep prices for imported liquor, Southside opts for good-quality mid-shelf booze and focuses on the other ingredients: they fresh-press all juices and make their own syrups, sodas and even tonic water. Imbibers will appreciate the broad selection that ranges from classic to creative. We’re huge fans of the Juarez Old Fashioned, a spicy take on a standard, and Phil recommends his favorite, The Last Word, a bright mix of gin, chartreuse, fresh lime juice and maraschino liqueur.
Magpie is one of Seoul’s most popular craft beer houses, started by five friends with a home-brewing hobby that grew by leaps and bounds. As the craft beer scene in Seoul has boomed, Magpie expanded to locations in Hongdae and Jeju Island. They’re constantly experimenting with recipes with a variety of unique imported hops. In addition to their porter and their pale ale (now a classic that is served at bars around Seoul), they offer varieties such as The American Muscle (an American wheat) and The Ghost (a German gose). Whether you’re looking for a simple dinner or a snack to go with your beer, their pizza is one of the best in the area—it’s a simple handmade dough topped with fresh ingredients and baked to order.Magpie is as much a community center as it is a bar, hosting concerts, classes and workshops on food and drink.