<This post is an extended version of part of my article that appeared in April’s Seoul Magazine>
The nicest things come as surprises. I would have never discovered Sweet Jane if it weren’t for my slightly neurotic designer friend, who seems to have become a some sort of bar expert of the city’s North -West region. We had dinner and soju, which we followed by visiting a highly recommended bar in the area. The bar was fine, had a satisfactory whiskey selection and an enthusiastic bartender, which is always a big plus in my book. It did however target itself more toward affluent couples on a date, despite our great desires for love and money and world domination, neither my friend nor I fitted. So after a drink or two, we left, feeling, to put it mildly, unsatisfied. The friend reasonably pointed out that ending the evening on such a note would be a pity, and suggested checking a place he once visited near Sangsu Station, which is a mecca for chill, hipster and cool. So if that bar didn’t work out, there would be something else to set our mind to. And so we strolled into Sweet Jane only because it was near indie-music mecca Jebi Dabang. We expected a scruffy bar with beer, soju and maybe some overpriced bitter wine, and old smelly bartender that remembered the war (doesn’t matter which one). We were in for a surprise.
One of the surprises included reasonably priced Japanese whiskey. Yes!!
What we got was an amazing selection of whiskeys in an old-fashioned bar that looks like it ran away from the silent movies in the 1930s. The interior is impeccable, in it’s retro and posh style, with simple, personal touches, like postcards and pictures. Also, any bar that has a projector and runs old movies on the ceiling is getting my vote of confidence. What won us over and made us stay ‘til daybreak was the owner, lovely Jane, who is the quintessence of charm and hospitality and the reason why we advocate that more women should be bar managers. Gosh, Jane herself looks like a movie star, and it’s not only her looks but her manners and demeanour that make you think you are being hosted by the Sangsu’s Audrey Hepburn. One look at the menu, and you know Jane is all about whiskey. For the highly adventurous, I recommend venturing down the whiskey set offer, where you get 4 glasses of interestingly matched single malts for a very attractive price. And don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations, for Jane and her staff are bound to suggest beverages that will delight you like early Christmas.
So here’s my recommended course of action for a weekend night: grab a good dinner in one of the meat venues around Hapjeong and Sangsu. Go to Jebidabang for a chill, indie concert and an aperitif. And then go across the street to Sweet Jane and chill out like it’s 1960 and you are Don Draper, being posh.
If you don’t go visit Sweet Jane, you are a total wuss. There I said it. Deal with it.
2F, 334-15 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu