Where to Drink in South Korea: 15 Best Bars in Seoul

Geonbae! 15 Best Bars to Check Out in Seoul, South Korea

Pick your poison from the best of Seoul’s bar scene.

In a city that prides itself on being a metropolitan superpower, it’s no surprise that Seoul’s bar scene is thriving. Seoulites have a reputation for playing just as hard as they work, which means that there isn’t any shortage of bars to down a drink or three after a long day at the office. We’ve compiled a list of the top 15 bars in Seoul; each with its own unique character and charm. Take your pick.

1. Kompakt Record Bar, Apgujeong

As the name implies, this bar only spins vinyl — you won’t find anything digital here. It plays host to a diverse, creative crowd, with soul, funk, and downtempo hip-hop tunes on tap from resident DJs. There’s a warm ambience to this intimate space, exuding a distinctly retro aesthetic that you likely won’t find anywhere else.

2. Hidden Cellar, Itaewon

This subterranean hide-out in Haebangchon boasts a colossal selection of beers, wines, and spirits to cater to discerning palates. Their food menu is constantly changing, but you can be assured that the fare is top-notch. Although popular with expats, you won’t be jostling with the crowds here — it’s a spacious haunt with amenities like a pool table and a stage for live performances, too.

3. Vinyl ‘Street Bar,’ Hongdae

Vinyl’s gimmick is serving eye-catching drinks in IV bags, most of which won’t run you too much (depending on your poison of choice). More a cafe than a hardcore bar, the postmodern decor is mesmerising, and the Ziploc drinks mean that you can wander the buzzing streets of Hongdae if you’re in search of a different vibe.

4. Maloney’s Pub & Grill, Itaewon

Maloney’s is an Irish establishment in the heart of the Itaewon district, serving scrumptious pub fare like burgers, sandwiches, and soups for those colder days. Wash down your meal with any one of the eight beers on tap, or ask about their daily drinks specials should you find yourself there during the week. From the timeless Guinness stout to the upstart Korean craft beer called  The Southie, you won’t be disappointed with the selection here.

5. L’impasse 81, Donggyo-dong

This cozy French bar is best known for its tantalising charcuterie selection, with items like boudins and merguez making an appearance, as well as other rare French delicacies like pâtés and rillettes available, too. You’re here to enjoy the drinks, so ask the waiters to recommend a wine or cocktail to accompany your cured meats as you relish continental flavours in the heart of South Korea.

Also read: When In France: Paris For First-Time Travellers

6. Blacklist (블랙리스트), Itaewon

Serving a largely expat crowd, Blacklist ranks highly for speedy service and drinks selection. Take your pick from the impeccable bourbon and whiskey list, or be a bit more adventurous and let the barman concoct a house cocktail for you. The vibe here is unpretentious and down-to-earth; it’s an absolute must-visit if you’re planning on spending a night out in Itaewon.

7. German House / 독일주택, Daehangno

If it’s a quiet evening you’re after, look no further than German House, also known as Dokil Jutaek (독일주택). This reserved hideaway is an anomaly in the loud student neighbourhood of Daehangno, as most patrons come here to enjoy the solitude of drinking alone. You won’t be disappointed by the tipple, as numerous imported beers and wines make the list here — from the Triple Karmeliet to the Lindemans Pecheresse. It’s great on sunny days, too, with a courtyard area where you can relax or get some work done.

8. Cheeky Kiwi Bar, Sinchon

As the name suggests, this New Zealand-themed bar is focused on serving up fare from the Land of The Long White Cloud. Sample some rare New Zealand wines, or snack on some hearty grub while you watch the Kiwis competing for sporting glory on the big screen TV.

9. Seendosi, Euljiro

Seendosi is the quintessential Korean creative space — an open platform for artists to share their work an intimate, experimental area. This bar and studio is the brainchild of photographer Lee Yoon Ho and artist Lee Byung Jae, with their creative influence apparent throughout. You’ll have to mission up four flights of stairs to get here, but it’s well worth the trek as the former warehouse has been transformed into a sensory experience, replete with rooftop views looking over Seoul.

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10. WooBar, Gwangjin-gu

Opulence is the name of the game at WooBar, an established chain bar with venues at hotels Asia. This particular WooBar is located at W Seoul Walkerhill in the Gwangjin-gu district, a fair distance from the buzz of the bustling city. At the very least, you ought to visit here for the scintillating views of the city, the plush interior decor, and the 18-metre bar — South Korea’s longest, by some margin. Then there’s the drinks selection which is almost as prolific as the venue itself. You can find 40 variants of vodka and a laundry list of wines and cocktails, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

11. Mikkeller Bar Seoul, Sinsa-dong

You might be familiar with Mikkeller as the Danish microbrewery responsible for the ‘gypsy-brewing’ phenomenon — that is, operating without a fixed brewing location but instead collaborating with other breweries to produce a range of craft beers. Their Seoul outlet is managed by Sunghoo Yang and Heeyoon Kim, two craft beer enthusiasts who fuse Korean elements with a European flavour to create an aesthetic that is at once endearing yet contemporary. Thirty different Mikkeller brews are available here, as well as variants from local brewers around the country.

12. The Griffin Bar, Dongdaemun

There’s a reason why The Griffin Bar is one of Seoul’s most popular rooftop bars. From the 11th floor of the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square, you’ve got sweeping views of the city’s most famous landmarks — a visual treat, especially during the warmer spring and summer months. Be sure to sample some of the local libations, such as the Dongdaemun Sling, or the Hanging Miracle. Alternatively, take your pick from one of the 200 wines on offer, or sip on a single-malt if that’s your thing.

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13. Once In A Blue Moon, Cheongdam-dong

More than just a jazz bar, Once In A Blue Moon is an institution for many Seoulites. It consists of three storeys and caters to a wide clientele, all of whom come to enjoy the daily live jazz performances. Order from the extensive drinks list, pull up a seat, and get your jazz fix at this enduring establishment.

14. Flower Gin, Itaewon

Gin aficionados will love this spot; it’s a small bar that pairs botanicals of different kinds with good ol’ hard liquor. Imagine that — flowers and drinks. All of the drinks sold here are gin variations infused with Hendrick’s Gin. You won’t go wrong with the classic G&T, or perhaps try the gin and ginger if you want a slightly different taste experience.

15. Jean Frigo, Gwanghyeong-dong

Hidden behind metallic doors and nestled between a series of fruit sellers is Jean Frigo, a bar with a tranquil, relaxing aesthetic — the perfect place to unwind after a long day. Oodles of natural light flood in, illuminating a space which is largely raw, exposed concrete. One thing’s for sure: This unassuming little spot is truly one of the best ways to while away the time when you’re in Dongdaemun.

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With this comprehensive list of Seoul’s best bars, you won’t have any issues finding a spot where you can kick back and let your hair down. Do you have any favourite watering holes that you’d like to share with us? Let us know!

Also read: 28 Fun Things to Do in Seoul on Your Very First Visit

About Author

Stuart Hendricks
Stuart Hendricks

Being a street photographer and travel writer, Stuart is always searching for the perfect shot that tells a story. He's got his heart set on adventuring around Asia using South Korea as his base and creates content to help aspiring photographers document their own travels through the continent.