Taipei is known for the abundance of street food, but definitely don’t sleep on the cocktails! When I visited during the winter holidays, I had difficulty securing the in-demand fine dining reservations, so I satisfied my “fancy” dining quota with craft cocktail bars.
I’m not exaggerating when I say these places made some of the best cocktails I’ve had, period. I was especially fond of the tea cocktails at Indulge Experimental Bistro, but all three spots featured below had excellent mastery of ingredients, creativity, balance, as well as wonderful service.
Indulge Experimental Bistro
Indulge Experimental Bistro by Aki Wang has an impressively diverse cocktail menu, and the menu itself was also beautiful to peruse through. They are still featuring the 10th anniversary menu (2009-2019), which is a tribute to Taiwan through five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. In addition to the new element-inspired cocktails, Indulge also brought back two top cocktails from each of the prior years.
I was also excited to try the food menu, but most of the options I wanted were sold out by our 9pm reservation. They did have a simpler late night menu available as well. The food we did get to try was fine, albeit forgettable. I was absolutely blown away by the cocktails here though. From the fragrant oolong and stone fruit notes of Metal No. 1, to the intensely woodsy perfume of Metal No. 2, the range here was incredible.
ROOM By Le Kief x Mume (ROOMUME)
ROOM by Le Kief is an intimate room where guests sit along the sides, with an unobstructed view of a center station which serves as a stage. Founder Seven Yi has created an immersive and delightful experience, pairing cocktails and food with performance. I unintentionally booked my reservation for the first day of their Mume collaboration. What a pleasant surprise! The format was a five-course set cocktail and food pairing, and there were only three parties total during our seating.
Other than a weaker first course, I loved the tasting menu – both the food and cocktails were excellent individually and harmonious when paired together. Do note that the food here is meant to be on the smaller side and not a complete dinner.
Bar Mood was the most lively of the three bars featured here. I enjoyed sitting at the bar and being able to admire the skilled mixologists, who were trained to make many different and complex drinks simultaneously. We are talking multi-tasking six different craft cocktails, from memory and seemingly effortlessly, while also being to able to make small talk with my friend and I.
Founder Nick Wu’s large menu is meticulously detailed and highlights one ingredient per cocktail. A brief summary of each highlighted ingredient accompanies each menu page, with a focus on local Chinese/Taiwanese significance. Tasting notes and illustrations of the drink vessel were also incredibly helpful.
In addition to the well-balanced cocktails, the food menu was quite a treat. I only sampled a couple but very much enjoyed the elevated spin on comfort food dishes.
Thanks in part to the popularity of the World’s 50 Best lists, many of Taipei’s lauded cocktail bars are booked out in advance. I highly recommend planning ahead and getting familiar with each bar’s booking process and reservation release times. For all three bars mentioned, I booked in advance online via inline.app. ROOM by Le Kief also required a deposit of NT$2000.