Vault + 82
May 11, 2018
From the name, the discreet door, and the narrow staircase descending into the grimy depths of a less-than-photogrenic alleyway, you could be forgiven imagining Vault +82 as a bunker prepared in readiness for Kim Jong-un’s latest piece of crazy. Far from it. While technically a speakeasy – there’s little by way of signage — the towering space expands over two whole floors. A galleried mezzanine offers relaxing black leather sofas; cool leather armchairs line the low bar; and impressive ranks of bottles, including well over 100 whiskies, stretch up so high that staff need to climb to reach them. The concept here is a firmly retro vision of masculinity: there’s a waistcoated shoeshine man and valet service, Chaplin films play against the exposed brickwork, while the tinkle of jazz piano should transport you right back to the 1920s golden age of fun. The manly menu tends firmly to the carnivorous – steak tartare, carpaccio, sausages and burgers – with only the occasional salad as a nod to Vitamin C. Vault +82 opened in early 2013, in the forefront of the new wave of Seoul speakeasies, and, as with other bars of its vintage, the emphasis is firmly on whisky – single malt Scotch in particular. Not only is Scotch mercifully replacing soju among more switched-on Seoulites, it has been a staple of high-end corporate entertainment for a while: don’t be surprised to see business being done here early evening, and deals celebrated later into the night. You can, however, trust the expert, formally-clad bartenders to take you on a journey from highlands to islands and beyond – but keep an eye on prices when you stand your round. The most expensive bottle here will cost you over $1500.