May 11, 2018
Named for Luc Besson’s 1988 cult classic tale of two freedivers and the big blue sea, the Big Blue markets itself as a – badoom tish! – dive bar. It isn’t, of course. Despite its location in the student mecca of Hongdae, this stylish wood and leather affair has the muted elegance found in the best Japanese all-seater bars and a firmly classical approach to both cocktails and spirits that you’ll recognise from your favourite Ginza nightspots. And, quelle surprise, Big Blue does indeed have a sister venue in the City of Glass. The focus here is firmly on the classics – martinis, gin & tonics, Rob Roys, or perhaps a daiquiri delicately flavoured with fresh peach – yet there’s a solid selection of wine and whisky should those float your boat. The bar snack menu is firmly classical, featuring favourites such as fine steak or fresh, juicy oysters. While there’s a smattering of seating around the room, the place to be is perched on one of the tall chairs at the bar, imbibing civilized drinks in a super-civilized atmosphere, unaffected by godawful house bands, pumping K-Pop or – shudder! – karaoke. The Big Blue describes itself as an “authentic bar”, and that’s really what it is: an intimate, almost neighbourhood space, where you can get a steady buzz on courtesy of excellent drinks and friendly bartenders in an environment free from soju-crazed salarymen or hard-partying students. We like.