I love bars. I used to be indifferent to bars. During my DJ days, I didn't care much for what went into a bar - the details, menu, food. Maybe it's because it was work for me. I did have fun each time but I just didn't really explore much. About the drinks, I just accepted whatever was offered.
This year, I tried exploring on my own. I don't have many friends. What an interesting world! I've learned so much. There are so many interesting drinks and takes on classic cocktails. There is a huge range of flavors, service, design, gimmicks which I'm not into, detail, and personality in bars and drinks. I learned about what I like and what I dislike.
I don't like loud bars, bars with lots of people and loud conversations, inattentive staff, overbearing staff, non-creative drinks (boring). I like interesting and creative flavors and drinks, respectful staff, good service (obviously), comfort. Comfort can be a lot of things. It's more than just the seat itself. It's also the space and staff. The seat can be a hard slab of wood with unstable legs, but with great staff and service, comfort can be excellent.
Most of the time, I read on my Kindle while I drink. Sometimes the bar staff notices this and leaves me alone. Sometimes there can be interesting conversations that I do welcome which always results in great connections and learning. It's a two-way street like any relationship - give and take. I learned that creative bartenders love sharing about drinks and flavors they are developing, sometimes even letting me try works in progress. They always appreciate honest feedback. It's not always about the drinks and flavors though. That can be limiting conversation after a while. I love learning about people and their stories. Outside of the usual conversations about bars, drinks, and flavors, I get to learn about the actual people beyond the bartending jobs. It's all very interesting.
I started my exploration in Taipei just a few months ago. I only tried three bars there but still learned so much. One bar I visited, called Hanko 60, had a dense list of drinks presented in pretty drinking vessels, but the staff seemed to be way too stressed and rushed to have any connections with their guests. It probably comes with the size of the room and therefore the amount of guests. it was pretty packed when I went, only having two available seats when I visited. This is not always a bad thing. Being a considerate and understanding guest is still very important not only in bars but everywhere else. So this is not a problem. I simply enjoyed what I ordered, keeping to myself, forming opinions on all the flavors I've been given.
Moving on, I went to a smaller bar called Pawn Bar. Even with almost full seats, the staff was very attentive. The menu had a smaller amount of drinks, maybe about 10, but still very interesting. The staff opened conversation about the usual tourist things. This is welcome, of course. It then led to descriptions of the drinks I got, the amount of work that goes into the components, and other bar recommendations in the area. Because of this, the size of the place, and the lack of noise, I felt very comfortable in it. It deserves multiple visits. I'll visit them at the end of the year if my Taipei trip happens. Taipei hotels are expensive during December and January.
The next night, I tried a bar called Bar Mood. If I remember correctly, It's in Asia's 50 Best bars. It was... ok. It felt a bit more posh than the two previous ones. The menu had several drinks in its big menu, all very interesting with informative descriptions. Most were fruity and sweet. The place is separated into two rooms: standing tables at the front; dining and bar seats at the back. They serve food too but I was not able to try any. The seats were all full so I stood at the front division the whole time and this was after a long walk finding the place. The drinks I had were ok at best. At a certain point, it all tasted very similar: fruity and sweet. The staff were all good looking people. I just felt the need to say that. There just wasn't any conversation about whatever I drank or what went in it or the history of the place. I did meet a fellow solo traveler and so was occupied with conversation with him instead. The whole time I was there, I was thinking about Pawn bar. I don't even have a photo of the place. It was expensive too. I still think it's worth another try though, as long as I can get into that second room or division. It looked like it had more personality.
I've since explored bars in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and my local city, all of which have been fun and exciting learning experiences. I already have my favorites in those three cities and can't wait to visit again. Maybe I'll talk about the ones in Thailand some other time.
Just yesterday, I visited my favorite one in my local city but they were closed for cleaning! I just came from dinner and even ordered take away to bring for the staff. I left the food with the bartender who was spraying something on a wall. Good thing the staff was present to be able to eat what I brought. I shall be back another time then!
This was written three rum drinks in. 🍹