The Best Bars in Seoul
Collected by Leslie Patrick , AFAR Local Expert
The speakeasy tradition is going strong here: dozens of lounges serve sophisticated cocktails in elegant settings, but traditional soju sipping goes on, too. Drinking is taken seriously in Seoul. So choose your poison (and drink responsibly).
Seoul, South Korea
684 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Well worth the effort it takes to locate this tiny establishment, Flower Gin is a hybrid gin bar and flower shop that feels as though you’ve stumbled into a bygone speakeasy, yet smells like an English country garden. The space is decorated with...
53 Nonhyeon-ro 153-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Featuring traditional coffee shop offerings like espressos and mochas, Mug for Rabbit café also offers more adventurous options including wasabi lattes, a drink made with melted ice cream, and a not-so-mysteriously named “Hung Over Coffee.” This...
39 Dosan-daero 15-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
In a sleek, black brick building lies C27 Cheesecake & Coffee, a trendy café where chicly dressed Koreans take selfies as they sip cappuccinos amidst the whimsical interiors (the entire third floor has been transformed into faux kitchen...
Saemunan-ro, Sajik-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Despite the fact that speakeasies of the prohibition age were illegal, their illicit nature created an allure that drew people in—never mind getting arrested. Nowadays, speakeasies are a sophisticated trend, and fortunately, visiting one doesn’t...
220-4 Seogye-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
For a true Korean drinking experience, look no further than the corner convenience store. From 7-11 and Family Mart, to GS 25 and Buy the Way, the stores have wooden picnic tables or plastic chairs set up outside so patrons can enjoy a frosty Cass...
244-1 Noksapyeong-daero, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Founded by five friends who missed the taste of craft beer so decided to brew their own after moving to Seoul, this laid back brewery has become a magnet for beer lovers in Korea’s capital. There’s a location in Hongdae, but the original in...
15 Samcheong-ro 9-gil, Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Set amidst the quaint hanoks (traditional Korean houses) of tourist favorite Bukchon Hanok Village, this upscale brewery serves a special kind of Korean alcohol that in days gone by was served only to the ruling gentry class. Made with rice and...
47 Dosan-daero 55-gil, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Step through a flower shop and into this swanky bar in the buzzing Gangnam area and you’ll forget you’re in a major Asian capital city—you’ll think you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole and ended up in an English country manor. With dark wood accents,...
73-4 Dokseodang-ro, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The speakeasy trend is alive and hopping in Seoul, and you never know behind which nondescript doors on the city’s streets people are stylishly sipping rare single malts or G&Ts. Speakeasy Mortar is one of those mysterious doors, where in-the-know...
86 Dongmak-ro, Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The whisky bug has hit Seoul hard, and the past few years has seen an explosion of the fine amber liquor making its way from the bucolic Scottish Highlands to the bustling streets of Seoul. Sangsu-ri is single handedly responsible for the whisky...
South Korea, Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong, 365-5
For a fun night out in Seoul, locals know to head to the Hongdae neighborhood for dining, drinks and music…and more drinks. Set near Hongik University, Hongdae is a nightlife lover's dream, with jolly crowds, flashing lights, and pulsing music,...
33 Dosan-daero 17-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Eonju-ro 134-gil, Nonhyeon 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Addresses in Seoul are notoriously difficult to figure out, and that combined with the countless number of unmarked alleys makes finding even the most popular hangouts a challenge. Finding the unmarked door of one of Seoul’s coolest speakeasies...
4 Dosan-daero 17-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
There are some things that are universal, including people’s love of a good dive bar. If you’re looking for a low-key vibe with cheap drinks and greasy bar food, look no further than Cuckoo. Set in the trendy Garusogil shopping area, this unfussy...
5-6 Apgujeong-ro 46-gil, Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
There are some bars where you walk in and you can just tell it’s a serious place where the drinks are stiff and the bartenders know their Negronis from their French 75s. Craft cocktails are on the rise in Seoul, and a great place to go for the...
606 Teheran-ro, Daechi 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Meant to resemble a hanok (traditional Korean house), this sophisticated bar in the basement of the Park Hyatt is separated into three distinct sections, meant to represent different rooms in the house. Start with some couldn’t-be-fresher sashimi...
460 Buil-ro, Simgok 2(i)-dong, Wonmi-gu, Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
One of Seoul’s most ubiquitous coffee chains is the unusually named Angel-in-Us (strangely, Korean’s pronounce it Angelina’s). The name apparently means that the store's coffee is god's gift delivered to earth by angels. Heavenly moniker aside,...
South Korea, Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Sinsa-dong, 536-20
In trendy Garosugil sits the see-and-be-seen hotspot Coffeesmith. This two-story, open-air coffee house is more about the atmosphere than about the beans, but no one seems to care as this place is always packed. The dark wood paneled walls give it...