Welcome to the best bars to one-shot and just chill. These are highly recommended by those in the know in Seoul’s LGBT community. The bars normally peak between 10pm and 1am—so get at ’em while they're hot…
Jongro now has a wine bar where you can enjoy a drink in a classy environment. One will appreciate Respiro not only for this diverse collection of red wines and cocktails, but also its surroundings. You can choose to have a cocktail in the bar’s quaint, brightly-lit indoors or enjoy a chilled glass of white in the open space terrace. If you’re looking for something different in Jongro, this is the one. The handsome, sophisticated owner of Respiro is an added value.
Is there any expression more sensual or fierce than “eat me?” In keeping with the name, the owner is no modest killjoy. Located across from the sweatbox that is Queen, Eat Me is the perfect place for break from the popular gay club, to sit down for a cool drink and meet people. Doors open from evening through 6am. Gay, straight, and every variety in between—all are welcome here.
If you’re wondering where the pretty boys in their early twenties play, look no further than the Velvet Lounge Bar. This place is always energetic and loud with the feel of a college party. The large interior has tables and a standing bar in keeping with the lounge atmosphere, making it a great place to hang out and actually have a conversation. These days, the side electric dart board is immensely popular so if you want to play, you do need an extra order of patience. The friendly, talkative bar owner (whose engineering degree only makes him sexier) takes the awkwardness out of going alone so go solo if need be.
Soho, located at one end of Itaewon’s famous Homo Hill, is a decent club and lounge bar mix. If you get to Soho early, you can sit in small groups with friends, have some light drinks, and people-watch. However, the venue slowly starts to gain stream until it reaches a boil of feverish, dancing people around 2am the club’s peak time. Fear not for Soho has the good sense to use dark-reddish lights that dim the lack of sobriety. Like its name night suggest, this bar has a New York interior and feels reminiscent of a gay bar in the West Village. Quite foreigner friendly, this is a good place to see the changing, globalizing side of Seoul.
When you’ve already hit up all the other dark gay clubs and you can barely open your eyes, you know it’s time to go to Why Not. The interior feels fresh with bright lights and high ceilings that give a panoramic feel to the place. It’s a valuable quality in a bar, especially when trying to lock eyes with a potential love interest. Warning: the Long Island Iced Teas here are delicious to the point where you forget how intoxicating they can be. Think twice before ordering a double.
ALMAZ is the answer for those in search of a cozy gay drinking hole in Itaewon. The venue was carved out from a large private residence, so it remains spacious even at its busiest. The vodka and whiskey are affordable, so you can get your money’s worth of alcohol. ALMAZ opened its doors in 2001, and has been the go-to spot for many gay regulars, who are now in their 30s and 40s. There is no denying that ALMAZ is the heart of the gay bar scene. The friendly staff and owner are all in the know of the scene’s history and tradition, so feel free to ask away if you’re a first-timer.