Cities have two faces, one for the day and one for the night. But to travel in the night time in a strange city is not always the first choice for the first-time travellers. Luckily, Taipei is one of the safest places on earth where one actually goes out for supper at 2am in the morning alone. There are some pick-pockets in the crowded places, but that is the top risk travellers certainly don’t have to worry about going back to the hotels/hostels safely (taxis and uber work late as well!).
To explore Taipei in the nighttime is easy as most shopping area run until 10pm, and even after that there are night markets for a snack or bubble milk tea late into nights. However, if you like a drink or two, you are especially in the right place! Ever since the law lifted the restriction on brewing alcohol back in the 1990s, the industry blooms with numerous craft beer breweries, award-winning cocktail mixologists, and all vibes of bars! Taipei’s nightlife now has become even more abundant with speakeasy scattered across the city. They are fun, they provide delicious cocktails, but finding them is a challenge! Fear not though, as we are about to bring to you a guide for speakeasy -- and how to get in!
Located on a street delightfully decorated with bars, Le Kief lies behind a tailor store. Inspired by the movie “Kingsmen,” this speakeasy disguises itself as a suit store. Cooperating with STYDER, a customized suit tailor brand, one can actually purchase the shirts, ties, shoes, and suits in the store. To get to the drinking section, walk to the end of the store, pick up the antique phone and dial 09, and the hidden door will slide open on your left hand side, leading you into the bar. Once passed the tunnel from the glamorous tailor store, one will find themselves standing in a dimly lighted, run-down style space. To imitate the speakeasy in the 20s, the walls are bare and the bar is behind a wooden pallet. I personally love their cocktails match with foods. “Between the sheets” mixes Apple Brandy with Rum, and topped with cinnamon and a piece of freshly baked bacon. Take a sip then a bite of the bacon, the smokey taste adding up with the thick brandy flavour could satisfy all hunger!
Mozi is possibly my personal favourite one, as they don’t only provide wonderful and creative cocktails, but also amazing foods! From the outside this is a normal operating salon, but you only have to bravely walk past all stylists and their customers, and lightly push the bookshelf by the stairs, and you’ll be welcomed in by the speakeasy. (Feel free to ask the stylists otherwise they might be acting normal!) I adore their tea based cocktails, and oftentimes there are fresh seasonal fruit to add some local touch, but if you want to something different to start the night with, try “Tea from Grandpa,” which was based on the Earl Grey infused Gin and added with lime juice. Don’t miss out on their Mushroom with Matsusaka pork, and if you are in the mood for some local delicacies, try the Mozi Luwei, which contains bean curds, intestines, and pork blood cakes braised in soy sauce. Enjoy your adventure!
Ounce is a bar hidden behind a bar, and our suggestion is to take a beer from the outside bar, sit by the roadside and enjoy some night breeze before you press the button on the wall, push through to enter the cocktail part of your night. Ounce is one of the earliest speakeasy in Taipei, and many local’s favourite with its classical flavours and cozy space. The cocktail style in Ounce is simple, strong, and dry, if you are still pondering over the menu, try their Daiquiri. If you are lucky enough, you might meet one of their guest mixologists -- they invite award-winning mixologists from around the world.
Chengdu 94 is the sister bar to the famous (among locals) Hanko 60. While Hanko 60 is decorated into an old-style movie theater with movie-theme cocktails, Chengdu 94 features a Mahjong School and their cocktails (including the utensils) are extremely creative! Press down on the big Mahjong card light and you’ll see the stairs leading you to the second floor. Here is decorated as a Mahjong School, so of course there are always 4 chairs surrounding a table! If you like something innovative, try “Concubine’s bathtime （貴妃出浴）”, your “glass” will come with a barbie doll, topped with her bubble bath foam. This is a vodka cocktail with lichi and persimmon liqueur, and the foam is a grape flavour soda!
Comparing to the others, Once is quieter especially on weekday nights, which can be a bless on the hustle and bustle Ximen area. This is also one speakeasy that doesn’t come with any special gadgets. Simply walk to the end of the cafe, and you’ll find a narrow stairs to the basement. In this attached basement, there is a seperate bar, some comfortable sofa space, and a pair of great stereo! Even more than that, Once has an amazing collection of gin, so try any of their gin and tonic, and pick a special gin to your choice!