Cocktails and nosh for urban bar-hoppers
Balmy weather takes nightlife up a notch, bringing the crowds into watering holes throughout the city.
Beer, wine and soju are tip-top staples for the thirsty party-goer. For the pub crawler in the mood for a sip, cocktails are where it’s at.
Here’s a quick look at a couple of places worth checking out for a tasty tipple or two.
The Timber House
If you’re looking for near liquid perfection, Park Hyatt Seoul’s The Timber House is the place to go.
Bartender Park Min-kyu a.k.a. Robin and team not only sport a well-stocked bar, fresh ingredients and loads of expertise, their creative-and-delicious inventions will surprise, in a good way.
Bartender Park’s Rose Martini (left) and Single Pleasure (center), along with the Timber House’s popular A.K Mojito. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Take Park’s Special “N” for instance.
Deriving inspiration from “nurungji” ― that toasted marvel of crisp rice that gets stuck to the bottom of the pot when you cook up grains the traditional Korean way ― the 28-year-old racked his brains to figure out a way to replicate those homey flavors and bottle it up into a drink.
He discovered that ground coffee paired with vanilla vodka, Malibu Rum and white creme de cacao comes darn close to the original, though the liquid formula is a tad sweeter, richer and packs a strong punch.
Other drinks worth sipping are the A.K Mojito and the yet-to-be-released Single Pleasure.
Riffing off the traditional Cuban highball, The Timber House substitutes mint with sesame leaves and white rum with Hwa-Yo soju.
“The key is to lightly muddle the leaves first to get the aromas to emerge before adding in the lime,” said Park.
Fragrant, dense yet sprightly, the drink is popular amongst clients.
If the A.K. Mojito is a bright and giddy drink, then Single Pleasure ― a Park creation available starting July ― summons thoughts of cigars and dimly-lit boudoirs.
Vanilla beans ground and mixed with white sugar and Single Malt Scotch are torched “to infuse the sugar into the whisky and to bring out their aromas.”
Instead of a standard shake, Park uses his own move ― dubbed R.T.F., shorthand for Ready to Fly ― which resembles a light twirl with a flick, meant, Park says, to combine shaking and stirring into one smooth movement that increases scent while preventing the ice from breaking.
A clove-studded orange peel ― a nod to mulled wine ― acts as a fragrant garnish to the smoky drink that boasts a mild citrus note and loads of vanilla.
Hungry bar-hoppers looking for a nibble with their drinks can check out Sofia near Garosugil.
At the Italian bar-and-restaurant, head chef Sung Min-bae whips up a delicious creamy polenta adorned with mushrooms sauteed in port wine, a drizzle of white truffle oil and grated Grana Padano.
The stuffed peppers ― done up with those great, not-so-spicy, crunchy “cucumber” chilis ― are also a must.
Mixologist Kenneth Lee concocts cocktails at the well-stocked bar of Sofia near Garosugil in Seoul. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Filled with crumbly house-made sausage seasoned with fennel and paprika, breaded in a mixture of finely ground baguette crumbs, oregano, parsley and pepper, these peppers are fried up golden and served with a silken, spicy tomato dipping sauce.
Messy, juicy and crisp, this is definitely an eat-with-your-hands not-with-a-fork dish.
The drinks menu offers up 13 different cocktails and martinis, including their inventive Peratini ― a concoction of nutmeg-infused Hwa-Yo soju, pear juice and Cointreau.
A stand-alone drink with a sweet, mild roundness, the Peratini works as an aperitif or as a post-meal dessert.
Mixologist Kenneth Lee says the bar stocks about five house-made infusions and two to three house-made syrups, hinting at more creative drinks to come.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org
The Timber House, located on the basement floor of Park Hyatt Seoul in Daechi-dong, Seoul. Opening hours are from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Cocktails cost 19,000 won to 35,000 won. For more information call (02) 2016-1234 or visit www.parkhyattseoul.co.kr
Sofia, located near Garosugil in Sinsa-dong, Seoul. Opening hours are from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Closed Sundays. Cocktails and martinis cost 12,000 won to 14,000 won. Assaggini (small dishes) cost 5,000 won to 16,000 won. For more information call (02) 516-9941. The Timber House A.K Mojito
● 4 perilla leaves
● 4 lime wedges
● 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
● 50 ml Hwa-Yo 41 soju
● crushed iceDirections
1. Prep a rocks glass.
2. Rip three cleaned sesame leaves by hand and put into the glass. Muddle lightly.
3. Add four lime wedges. Add 1.5 tbsp brown sugar.
5. Add 50 ml of Hwa-Yo.
6. Stir with bar spoon.
7. Fill 2/3 of the cup with crushed ice. Stir again.
8. Insert the fourth cleaned sesame leaf as garnish.
9. Top with more crushed ice.