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Bar of the Week: Joo Bar Puts A Spin on the Traditional Makgeolli

Experience the many faces of Korea’s most famous beverage at this hidden gem off Beach Road.

What: Joo Bar
Where: 5 Tan Quee Lan Street
Opening hours: 5:30pm to 12am
Tel: 8138-1628

Located on one of the streets in Bugis’ many bustling roads is a little Korean bar you’re very likely to miss if you’re not actively looking for it — and still might even if you are. It’s not that Joo Bar is nondescript. It’s just that one doesn’t expect to find a proper bar on a stretch that also houses bridal boutiques, Chinese restaurants and a hair salon. But fans of makgeolli, Korea’s oldest alcoholic beverage, know exactly where to go to get their fix.

  • Busan Breeze, a makgeolli cocktail

If your palate is no longer excited by traditional spirits, or if your liver simply needs a break, Joo Bar has some light and refreshing alternatives, primarily in the form of the famously sweet and cloudy drink. The menu offers a wide range of makgeolli-based drinks, from organic house brews to fruity cocktails, and it’ll be all too easy to knock them back thanks to its 6 to 8 per cent ABV. You will need to order the Wonju (an unadulterated version of its signature Joo Brew) to actually taste any alcohol. It’s all about levity here.

Which means Joo Bar is not a place for business. The bubbly playlist of painfully catchy K-pop chart toppers encourages banter, not barter. There is an equally extensive selection of Korean drinking snacks and mains which are meant to accompany the many, many glasses you will invariably go through in your quest to sample every intriguing item on the menu. Joo Bar may not end up being your go-to hangout, but it’s a good palate cleanser between your regular nights out with the boys.

Best bits: Finally, a drink-forward Korean establishment.

Check out our previous Bars of the Week: Bob’s Bar | SPECIAL – #NegroniWeekThe Westin’s Lobby Lounge | Bar-roque GrillSmoke & Mirrors | Umi + Vino | Sum Yi Tai