Category: Drinks & Cocktails

Thanks Nature Cafe – Sheep Cafe

Seoul has some really amazing and quirky things going on, and none quite so vividly different as the Thanks Nature Sheep Cafe. The coffee shop capital of the world, started off with the pedestrian cat and dog cafes but soon moved on to include other farm yard themed caffeine dispensaries. Being a Somerset girl I’m accustomed to spending time with barn yard animals, I was in the Young Farmers after all. Despite its farm yard theme, the Thanks Nature Cafe is actually located right in the middle of Hongdae, which is as far away from a sheep’s natural habitat as you can get. The cafe is really big, with a huge outside space, and tonnes of room inside. The pair of sheep Sam & Anna were absolutely adorable, roaming around in their lovely large pen. so if you aren’t quite so interested in the sheep, you can head inside.

The cafe offers all the drinks you would imagine (coffee, tea, juice, ade, frozen concoctions), plus waffles and bingsu. Despite the cafes unique selling point of having their own livestock, the prices on the menu are actually very reasonable and pretty similar to most of the other evil chain cafes in the area. As I visited late in the afternoon, I wasn’t really in the mood for a coffee so decided to get a Chocolate Frapuccino (6,000). This was really big and very refreshing, it was clearly made with a powdery mix, but the frappuccino was very thick and topped with the yummiest marshmallow creme and chocolate syrup.

It being a ridiculously hot and sunny day I also decided to cool down the Korean way with a Pyrex jug of bingsu. There really aren’t enough desserts in the world that are served in Pyrex jugs as far as I’m concerned. There are 7 different kinds of bingsu on the menu and I settled on the Cookies & Cream version (7,000). The bingsu comes in two sizes and I went for the medium one, the large was (9,000) but I found mine to be more than enough to satisfy my mammoth appetite. I adored how the bingsu almost looked like a sheep face, and this was actually one of the best ones I have had in a long time. Sweet enough without being too much so, it was very refreshing and I liked the texture from the crushed oreos. The waffles all looked pretty great too, if I go again I will certainly try one next time.

Once you have ordered your drinks or desserts (though no minimum spend is required) you can then go and play with the sheep until your heart is content. The cafe was quite quiet when I was there so I really didn’t have to wait long for my turn to take pictures or play. They were a little shy at first but soon perked up once I neared the food bucket, the staff will give you a small handful of feed so you can feed them yourself and once you have done that it is much easier to get picture. Be forewarned getting a sheep selfie is not so easy, but it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. If you are in Hongdae and grabbing a coffee anyway why not go see some sheep.

Thanks Nature Cafe is located at 486 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hongdae Station (line 2) and come out of exit 9. Walk straight then take a left at the main road. Keep walking straight towards the university, you will see the stairs to get to Thanks Nature Cafe, at the end of the arcade of shops. For more information you can call them on 02-335-7470, or check out their facebook page.

Ferry Roasters

If there is one thing that Seoul has no shortage of, it is coffee shops. Seoulites absolutely adore coffee and seem to spend an awful lot of time hanging out in their favourite cafes. So it is no surprise that the city is practically bursting with dozens of cute and quirky places to get a caffeine fix. And before I set off on my travels, I found the most charming one just next to my house that I couldn’t resist sharing with you.

The boat themed coffee shop is conveniently located opposite the fabulous Cre8 Cookies, making it the perfect place to grab a drink after picking up some baked goods, however the nautical theme is not the only specialty, they also serve the world’s most delightful donut topped coffees, yes donut topped coffee! You can have your donut and drink it too. The menu is quite small but I tried a couple of their specialty drinks along with a dozen of their marvelous mini donuts. I placed my order and went up to their fabulous roof top to enjoy the glorious weather that we were having. Though if you don’t like the sun, they have a more covered outdoor space on the main floor, or inside seating.

After about 20 minutes my order finally showed up, and thankfully it was worth the wait. The first thing I tried was the Salted Caramel Latte (6,900), I’m usually a vanilla latte kinda a girl, but the melted marshmallow topping on this coffee was too much to resist. I was at first concerned that the coffee would be too sweet for my liking however it was far saltier than sweet and mixed with the strong coffee it was actually quite tasty. The frothy melted mashmallows added a hint of sweetness and it was actually quite refreshing. So far so good.

My second coffee, yes I was all alone and couldn’t decide what to get so thought I’d treat myself to two instead, was the Tube Latte (6,500). This is the delightful little Homer Simpson donut topped coffee. You can have this served hot or cold, and in this weather over ice seemed very logical. This one was not at all sweet, I’m guessing that’s why there is a donut on top. It was incredibly precious and the coffee was strong, but I need my latte a touch sweeter than this so would ask for some vanilla syrup next time. It was also on the small side, so I’m glad I had two.

It being a weekend and all, I figured I would treat myself to a dozen their adorable mini donuts. There are two different flavours, cinnamon sugar, and basil parmesan. I decided to try both and got a half order of each (7,500). Donuts are a rare find in this city, at least outside of the big chains. These were made there and then on the spot, which accounted for my 20 minute wait. I loved having a mix of sweet and savoury, it is the best of both worlds. The cinnamon sugar were soft and fluffy in the middle while the savoury basil parmesan were addictively good and probably my favourites of the day, whoever thought of putting parmesan in a donut is a genius!

Overall I thought this pace was fab and I will probably come again to hang out on the roof top and grab some donuts. It is not the cheapest coffee in the neighbourhood but if you are looking for something a bit different or a cute place to meet friends than this is it.

Ferry Roasters is located at 225-22 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass, go through and exit using the stairs on the left hand side. Follow this road around passing the church and Paris Baguette, walk up the hill towards the Hyatt. After you pass the Happy Store keep an eye out for an alleyway on the right hand side and you will see Ferry Roasters on your left, just past Cre8 Cookies. For more information you can call them on 02-6015-2022. They are open Tuesday – Sunday 12:30pm -9pm.

JL Dessert Bar – Cherry Blossom Pop Up

Last weekend was I was invited to a very special event at JL Dessert bar, a place I have been meaning to try for ages. The event was in honour of the majesty that is Cherry Blossom season. In Korea, nothing says Spring like a walk along the river, and fighting your way through crowds of other eager beavers trying to get the perfect selfie with the elusive cherry blossoms before they wither away and die. Since I don’t do so well with crowds I figured this seasonal dessert pop up was much more my bag.

JL Dessert bar, is located near Gangnam District Office station and is unsurprisingly a bar that specializes in cocktails, wine and desserts. What a novel idea, for many people dessert is the best part of the meal so why not skip ahead straight to the good stuff? It’s also ideal for those on a first date who don’t want to risk sitting through an entire meal. Our event was a one day special promotion for cherry blossom season which cost 45,000 for 2 people. this included three desserts and wine pairings, plus a few special spring goodies.

Our first dish to try was the Cherry blossom special, which was a sweet mix of cherry blossom, strawberry, blueberry, lemon and white chocolate. First of all I adored the personal plating, I love anything with my name on it. The star attraction of the dish was the white chocolate orb, that when broken into revealed a sweet and creamy mousse which reminded me of candy floss. Paired with the fruit and broken shards of meringue it was a real melange of tastes and textures. It was rather impressive. The wine paired with this one was a Blueroth Riesling, a sweet and dessert wine which really enhanced the dessert.

Our second dish was the adorable Petit Gateaux, this was probably my favourite of the desserts. Again a soft exterior but with a biscuity crunch at the bottom and lovely layer of strawberry jam, this was so scrummy, I was a tad upset to be sharing it. This one was paired with a German Brut, I think we all know how much I enjoy a glass of bubbly so this was ideal for me, and it was nice to have something to take the edge off the sweetness of the dish.

Lastly we ate the stunningly beautiful Cherry Blossom macarons. These were pressed with a dried cherry blossom which was such a lovely touch.  Again I wish there had been more, I could have eaten them all afternoon long. These we paired with the Vampire, Merlot rose, which i think might have been my favourite of the three wines, although it might have been because I was a little bit tipsy by that point.

Overall we had a fabulous afternoon, I felt very grown up going for dessert and wine tasting. They are planning to host similar pop ups in the future which  shall certainly keep abreast of, but for the time being they also have an a la carte menu where most of the desserts cost 15,000, or a set menu of 4 courses for 40,000 which I’m sure you could share between two. All the desserts also come with recommended cocktail pairings too.

JL Dessert Bar is located at 14, Seolleung-ro 120-Gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gangnam-Guchon Station (line 7) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight and turn right the first chance you get. Walk straight for three blocks and then go left. You should see JL Dessert Bar just ahead of you on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-543-6140, or check out their facebook page. They are open from 12pm-11pm everyday.

Cranberry Moscow Mule

It being Monday and all, the last thing you probably want to read right now is a cocktail recipe, especially if you are still suffering from your shenanigans at the weekend. However I have been inundated with requests for this recipe after serving it at my Christmas party on Saturday to room full of thirsty revellers. I figured that if i was going to go to the effort of writing it all out, I may as well make a post out of it, just in case any of you out there are in desperate need of an easy and festive cocktail recipe. (more…)

Omyrose at Seoul Dining

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Last week I was invited to an event to promote a new range of Korean liquors called Omyrose, which are made by J.K Lee with  omija berries grown right here in Korea. Now I think we all know how much I enjoy a drink, and the prospect of trying something new was very enticing to me. The event was held at Seoul Dining, a new restaurant in the Dongguk university area. The slick and sleek restaurant has only been open for a month but it exuded a warm and welcoming high end atmosphere.

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We started out the night with a glass of the Korean Omyrose sparkling wine. The sparkling wine has a rather lovely pink hue to it that really reminded me of a kir royal cocktail. The wine itself was a touch sweet with a slightly bitter finish but I rather enjoyed it, and quaffed quite a few glasses to say the least. The sparkling wine was paired with raw cooked scallops with apple and sesame oil, in a mussel sauce, which was light and delicate taste of the sea. It was a nice contrast against the heady flavour of the wine.

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Our next drink was The Omyrose rosé (try saying that after a few too many). Again  the wine was slightly sweet from the berries but it had a very buttery finish. I’ve never been into dry wines so I was quite enamored with his one too. The rosé was paired with several dishes but for the most memorable being  a pumpkin and potato soup, cauliflower quinoa, and squid ceviche, The warm and comforting soup was so silky it felt like a pair of loving arms wrapping itself around your heart. While the squid ceviche provided a refreshing kick and some extra texture. It was the ideal autumnal dish.

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After a couple of other of courses including grey mullet, and confit chicken leg, it was time to move on to the stronger liquors. First was the oaky finish omija liquor. It was strong and we were given a glass of ice to pour it over. This to me tasted like the love child of a tequila and a scotch, probably due to the oak flavour from the barrel. This one was a bit too intense for me, though I’m rarely into drinking straight liquor.  I’d love to see what it tasted like in a cocktail though.

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The liquor was served with my favourite dish of the meal, char-grilled Iberico pork pluma, with onion and anchovy pesto. Just one bite of the tender grilled pork was enough to make me fall in love with this dish. The meat just oozed flavour. When talking with the Chef Eric, he told me he first started making this dish in Portugal when working in a restaurant there, and it is now his signature dish. I can see why as it was absolutely delicious.

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After the incredible pork we finished with a shot of the white liquor, a clear version of the one we enjoyed before and the most expensive of the bunch, though it does come in a rather beautiful bottle. This one was served straight up in a shot glass, but again I just found it too strong to enjoy neat. Along with the liquor we served espresso and a deconstructed tiramisu which was a very enjoyable way to end the meal.

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Overall I was really impressed by the Omyrose wines, and its great to see a new high end brand of Korean liquors, as they make especially good gifts. For anyone interested in Omyrose it is available in Shinsaegae and other large department stores and costs between 50,000 – 360,000 per bottle. I also really enjoyed the set dinner prepared by Seoul Dining. I took a look at their menu before I left and found that the 7 course dinner cost 77,000 and thought it to be very reasonably. It featured an excellent mix of Korean ingredients presented in the style of modern western cooking. It would be the perfect location for any special occasion.

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Seoul Dining is located at 272, Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Dongguk University Station (line 3) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight for about 100 meters, you will see the Welcome City building ahead of you on the right hand side. Walk up the stairs and you will see the Seoul Dining restaurant on your right. For more information or to make a reservation you can call them on 010-3586-8061. They are open from Tuesday – Saturday for lunch and dinner.

WinK Kitchen & Taphouse

A few weeks ago I was invited back to WinK  to come and try their new menu. It had been some time since my last visit so I was curious to see what was new.  The Gyodae pub has been open for over a year and a half now and they have recently hired a new chef who has revamped their menu. While they are still serving their popular classic dishes, he has also added his own personal flair and flavour to the menu.

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One of the new dishes is the Spicy Pork Belly Sandwich (9,500). I love a slab of juicy pork between my lips so really couldn’t resist giving this a try. Housed in a long soft roll was a a melt in the mouth piece of pork belly that was soft as butter. This is very important when putting it in a sandwich as you don’t want to get through the bread and have trouble biting through the meat. The Thai glaze smothering the meat is advertised as spicy and it certainly hits that note. Inside the sandwich were pickled radish and carrots, cucumber, and cilantro which provided a sour and refreshing crunch to cut through the spice. If the sauce was slightly less spicy this would be a an absolute knock out for me.

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Since it first opened, WinK has always been popular for its burger selection.  All the burgers are on the hearty side and very filling and I ordered the biggest of the bunch The Mega Burger (14,000), which kind of made me feel like I was at the Peach Pitt in Beverly Hills 90210. This burger has everything but the kitchen sink on it but it really works. Housed inside the buttered bun is a 150g whole beef patty, pulled pork, several kinds of cheese, egg, avocado, lettuce onions, tomato, and mayo. Burger purists may not agree but I loved the combination of flavours, and any bite that included that oozy egg yolk was a winner for me.

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Also on the menu are plenty of topped fries, and our favourite was the Loaded Fries (8,900). Although nothing groundbreaking in culinary terms, the fries topped with cheese, bacon and sour cream were quite hard to resist, and we didn’t leave many on the plate.

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As with any good pub, the drinks remain cheap and cheerful. They have a variety of Platinum ales on tap and plenty of mixed cocktails all ranging from 5,000 – 9,000 won. The lemon drop was probably my favourite whereas my companions enjoyed the mocha stout. If you live south of the river and are looking for a good time, it is certainly worth stopping by.

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WinK is located at 2F, 1576-6, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Seoul National University of Education (lines 2 & 3). Come out of exit 14 and walk straight, WinK is about 100 meters down the street on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-6053-3429 or check out their facebook page.

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Kahlo & Diego

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We all know I’m a big old lush, especially once the summer kicks in. I don’t think there has been a day this week where I haven’t enjoyed a refreshing alcoholic beverage on my terrace at cocktail hour. But as much as I enjoy drinking at home, it is also fun to go out now and again. Last week I met with my bar tender and very good friend Ray Sway Oh, star of the Yancha Life. It being a Friday night and all he suggested going for a drink after dinner, and I knew just the place. (more…)

The Hand & Apple

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If you are a craft beer lover in Korea, then you are more than likely familiar with Hand & Malt. However it is not just beer that the company is making, they have just expanded their operation and are now making Korea’s first ciders! Being a west country girl, I grew up on the stuff, and when I first moved to Korea 8 years ago I was very disappointed to find that it had barely even been heard of. Luckily for me, over the years the big brands finally paid notice and the city is now awash with all sorts of bottled and canned varieties. (more…)

Featured Event – Gorilla Brewing Launch Event

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Now everyone knows I like a cocktail in my mouth, but once in a while I like to enjoy a refreshing beer, especially once the weather really starts to heat up. Conveniently enough, Gorilla Brewing Company have just opened Korea’s latest Expat craft brewery in Busan. Now if you are anything like me and think that is an awfully long way to travel for a beer, then you are in luck, because Gorilla will be launching their beers in Seoul at The Wolfhound this Saturday. (more…)

Seoul Shake Off

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Last night I popped down the hill and went to the Seoul Shake Off held at Club House in Gyeongridan. Hosted by one of my favourite restaurants The Beastro, Snapple, and Alcohol company Pernod Ricard. The two day event features 6 of Seoul’s best cocktail bars competing against each other. Tickets are 50,000 on the door and will get you 1 Beastro welcome cocktail and the 3 signature cocktails of the participating bars. (more…)