The rise of premium whiskey brands and unique speakeasies are giving Taipei’s cocktail scene a sizzling boost.
As more expats flock the streets of Taipei, there’s been a huge transformation in the city’s cocktail scene in recent years. Focus on districts like Xinyi and Da’an, you’ll find yourself entering mysterious doors that lead to high quality mixology, along with easygoing and friendly people ready to mingle. For whiskey fans, try to ask for Kavalan or Omar brands from the menu. If fruitier tastes are up your alley, then opt for cocktails featuring local produce including: dragon fruit, guava, or waxed apples. From rooftop bars, microbreweries to cocktail lounges, Taipei has risen to be a fun place for your social life while expanding your taste buds.
Frank – best rooftop bar
Xinyi District. No. 12 Songshou Road, 10th floor inside ATT 4 FUN building
Frank is a one of the hottest bars in Taipei at the moment. Sitting on the top two floors of ATT 4 FUN building, Frank features a savvy cocktail menu with various sitting areas that might feel like a small club, though balcony seats seem ideal for romantic couples. The top floor has swings, and contemporary decor that changes periodically. Frank is a great choice from 9pm and on, perfect for cocktails with a spectacular view of the city’s famous skyscraper: Taipei 101.
R&D – best speakeasy
Da’ann District. No. 36 Jiaxing Street
R&D is one magical hidden gem, tucked inside an obscure dark alley. If you can find the door, the entrance leads to a long wooden bar resembling an ancient Chinese apothecary. Cocktails reflect upon Taiwan’s ingredients and produce: jade watermelon, lychee, mango, guava, wax apples…and many more. Even the classics have a Taiwanese spin: Sour Plum White Negroni (with Gin and French liqueur Suze and a homemade sour plum liqueur made from Central Taiwanese sour plums,) and Green Tea Martini (gin, homemade jasmine green tea liqueur, and lillet, topped with a grapefruit peel twist.)
OUNCE – best guest mixologist appearances
Da’an District. No. 309, Section 4, Xinyi Road
One of my personal favorites is OUNCE situated behind a sliding door on a major boulevard. It always serves up the city’s best cocktails in an intimate ambiance. If you love a speakeasy vibe and the ease of striking up a conversation with bartenders regarding mixology, then OUNCE is made for you. Forget about the menu, try a cocktail created on the fly, the bartender is probably in town for a temporary stay to showcase his/her craft. Guaranteed deliciousness.
Woo Bar at W Hotel – best day drinking
Xinyi District. No. 10, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road
W Hotel is internationally known for great lounge bars, the one in Taipei is certainly not an exempt. If you want to have a drink by the pool (even if you’re not dipping in it,) Woo Bar is a fabulous choice for an afternoon sip. The music is chill, there’s also a stylish interior space. Woo’s cocktail menu features classic options as well as regional fruits fully ripe in the season. Dragon fruit cocktails, passion fruit, and lychee come to play during summertime. If you’re not feeling the cocktail vibe, Woo Bar also carries an outstanding international wine list.
CÉ LA VI Taipei – swanky experience
Xinyi District. Songzhi Road on top floor of Breeze Nanshan building
Located on the top floor of the Breeze Nanshan building, CÉ LA VI is a sleek experience with a gleaming view of the city. The crowd is very expat-friendly, so you’ll hear English floating around. Forget about catching Taipei’s tranquil sunset, the bar only starts making cocktails at 9pm. If you’re a fan of CÉ LA VI’s global brand and have loved visiting the ones in Singapore or other cities, then the one in Taipei won’t disappoint.
Saffron 46 – fab presentation
Xinyi District. No 17 Songzhi Road, 46th floor inside Breeze Nanshan building
Also in the same building as CÉ LA VI is Saffron 46 – an upscale Indian restaurant featuring a cocktail menu unlike any other you’ll see in Taipei. Opt for a color – red, brown, blue – depending on your taste preference: sweet, sour, or bitter. When your drink arrives, make sure to have the cameras out. Each cocktail is presented on a small platter, where the server will explain each ingredient as he/she continues to brush each glass with uniquely concocted syrup matching the color of the cocktail you chose. Note: Saffron is mainly a restaurant, but you can enjoy a cocktail at the bar if you opt to lunch or dine somewhere else.
MOD Public – best whiskey bar
Da’an District. No. 40, Alley 4, Lane 345, Section 4, Ren’ai Road
MOD is moody, it’s also legit. If whiskey is your soft spot, then you’ve come to the right place. MOD’s whiskey collection behind the bar is impressive, global and rare. The interior is oaky, the bar is woody. This dark and stylish hotspot is quiet and subdued, hence you know it’s an expert’s favorite. If you’re hungry, make sure to order a platter of luwei – a night market dish spotlighting local ingredients (seaweed, tofu, chicken wings, eggs, ramen) marinated and braised in soy sauce and Chinese herbs for hours.
啜飲室 Landmark – best draft beers
Xinyi District. No. 68, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road
Tucked in between two department stores, Landmark stars fifteen craft beers on tap. Backed by TaiHu brewing – a giant microbrewery powerhouse in Taiwan – Landmark’s beers are mostly locally brewed although there are also some craft beers from other countries. Look out for the small canning machines packaging draft beers in 500ml cans that you order as freshly poured to-go beers. Since it’s located on a pedestrian street, only outdoor seatings are available, making Landmark the perfect spot to satiate your thirst from a day of shopping.
Draft Land – best cocktails on tap
Da’an District. No 2, Lane 248, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road
Famous for its 18 taps that inject carbon dioxide or nitrogen into alcohol, Draft Land is another standing bar brewing true to the phrase, “great things come in small packages.” Most wine bars allow you to test and taste the wine, so do pubs with beers. But ever wonder why cocktails bars don’t offer the same service? Luckily, Draft Land allows guests to taste cocktails before committing to it, which is rare and helpful since the menu changes every season. The minimalist decor gives its small space a sophisticated ambiance, no wonder it’s been included in Asia’s 50 Best Bars.
Bar Mood – tea-infused cocktails
Da’an District. No. 53, Lane 160, Section 1, Dunhua South Road
Book in advance because Bar Mood is incredibly popular. Guided by the man behind Taiwan’s cocktail bar scene, Nick Wu created this swanky bar to exude Asia’s best with an American attitude. You can find unique Taiwanese and Japanese whiskeys mixed in cocktails, as well as numerous ingredients that pay homage to Taiwanese roots. Definitely try Mood’s tea-infused cocktails featuring locally grown oolong, pu’er, and jasmine.
Cochon – best natural wine bar
Songshan District. No. 20, Lane 165, Dunhua North Road
Despite that Taiwanese haven’t caught on with the rising natural wine scene like much of the Western countries, Cochon is a progressive establishment. The wine bar / restaurant is the beloved child of an owner who is impressively knowledgable about Europe’s natural wine industry. Cochon highlights a wide range of natural wines mainly from France. Anything from Bourgogne to the Rhône Valley will take your palate straight to the French countryside. You can order by glass or bottle, each sip goes down smoothly alongside a tapas-style menu prepared in an open kitchen. Such a delightful gem, the service is just as impeccable as you can imagine.