May 11, 2018
Didn’t expect to find craft cocktails in Hongdae? You’re not alone – like university districts the world over, Seoul’s Hongdae tends to the more budget-conscious, alcohol-heavy end of the drinking spectrum. Nestled in a basement below a Vans store, there’s no speakeasy malarkey to Robin’s Square – in fact, signage stands proud and disconcertingly loud over the tall doorway. Yet what’s inside is pretty darn special. Bottles of craft spirits from around the world line the impressive back bar; even straight drinks like whisky are seamlessly presented, with ice balls, cracked ice and a range of garnishes and mixers; and the cocktails hit that sweet spot between creativity and drinkability. (Think a Porma Dulce, with Grey Goose L’Orange and creamy mascarpone cheese, elaborate affairs garnished with delights such as smoked salmon and black olives, or the humble old school Cobbler reinvented with fine spirits and fresh fruit.) Owner Robin Oppa is one of the big names in Korea’s big smoke and, although the interior of this relative veteran is beginning to show its age, it’s a great place to hunker down with friends on a winter’s night and pick at leisure from the inventive and lovingly honed menu. You might even want to opt for a classic of two. Their Smoky Old-Fashioned comes with the Asian essential iceball alongside a decanter full of actual smoke, and there’s puns as well as goodness on offer in drinks like the Bread Peat (Brad Pitt, geddit?) with its tasty toast garnish and smoky finish.
Main photo credit: Robin’s Square official Facebook page