The Libertine


One of the things that never really occurred to me leaving America was how difficult it would be to get a decent cocktail. Sure, I knew my bourbon selection would probably be limited to overpriced Jack and Jim and I'd have to adjust my standards, drinking habits and expected price point for alcohol, but the other week Dan ordered a Scotch and soda from a pretty average bar, with English speaking staff, and got what we think was a Scotch and tonic. Scotch and tonic is maybe the worst drink known to mankind. I'd rather drink something made with Malibu. Yes, I said it, I would rather drink something made with alcoholic suntan lotion, than ever have to try a Scotch and tonic again. In Istanbul, at our fancy hotel rooftop bar, where we were charged TWENTY FOUR DOLLARS to have our drinks made with Bulleit, they SHOOK the life out of Dan's Manhattan and I'm not even sure my Old Fashioned had alcohol in it. They both primarily tasted like melted, dirty ice. I've had two Scotch Old Fashioneds since getting here and one was fine and one was just awful. I'm not opposed to a Scotch Old Fashioned, my favorite drink in the world might be The Campfire at Amor y Amargo (it's not actually on the menu, but go ask for one, you'll thank me later) but you can't just throw a lemon peel and a dash of bitters in a Scotch and soda and go charging somebody $18 like it's an actual Old Fashioned.

You cannot imagine how excited I was when I walked into The Libertine and saw that their drink menu had an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, a Whiskey Sour (with an egg white!) and a Boulevardier. If you had to ask me my top four cocktails, these would be them. They also have the widest and most reasonably priced selection of Bourbon I've seen in Seoul. They charged me one dollar, ONE DOLLAR, extra for having my Old Fashioned made with Buillet instead of the well whiskey (Jim Beam Black). I think Dan got charged a whopping two dollars extra for his Manhattan made with Rittenhouse. Look at that beautiful thing! Just one large globe of ice, a twist of the proper fruit, and actually the proper shade of amber instead of the color of the world's saddest, most watered down, ice tea. The service here is not quick but your cocktail is created with care and I have never seen anyone shake a Manhattan.

This is the Whiskey Sour. You can tell by that thick layer of foam on top that it's made the best way, with an egg white. I realize that egg white cocktails are a little gross sounding to most people but, in America, bars are usually using pasteurized whites so your risk of food borne illness is minimal. I have no idea what they do here. I do know that egg whites usually add a creaminess and body to Whiskey Sours that makes them absolutely heavenly and that this cocktail was no exception. (This is where to get my favorite egg white Whiskey Sour in New York)

For food at The Libertine, I recommend the burger. It's a little pricey but is always perfectly medium rare and juicy. We've found the other dinner food and brunch food fine but underwhelming for the price point. If you do go for brunch, they make a solid, classic Bloody Mary.

The Libertine is definitely the place to go when you've had one of those days where you really just need a burger and some Bourbon. (Other people have those days, right?)

It's address is 141-8 Itaewon-dong. I usually take the 405 bus but you can also get there easily by taking the metro to Itaewon Station. Walk South from Itaewon-ro and it will be on your left just before the street turns entirely into antique shops.

My favorite places for a burger and bourbon in New York are The Wren  (the small plates are also fantastic AND I've gotten an industry discount) or, if you're feeling fancy, Prime Meats.