soju sunrise

Mix & Malt

bars, restaurants | February 17, 2017 | By

I recently realized that to my genuine surprise I’d never written about one of my favourite places in the city, and certainly my favourite place to get a cocktail, the mighty Mix&Malt. Anyone who follows my Instagram knows that I spend far too much time and money there, but for those who don’t and are somehow still out of the loop, here are my top five reasons to hop a bus, subway or taxi up to Hyehwa.

[Note: No money, free food or other inducement was asked for or received in return for this post. Soju Sunrise accepts freebies only very occasionally and will always explicitly state if this is the case.]

1: The drinks

The bartenders at M&M, led by Ike (above) and Paul, know their stuff. There’s an extensive cocktail menu, presented on iPads with photos and descriptions for your easy perusal, but they’ll make anything you want from the well-stocked bar and their cocktails come garnished with fresh herbs, smouldering cinnamon sticks, even gold leaf… you name it.

The dark rum mojito (above) is the best mojito in Korea. Rock-solid consistent, never too sweet or too watery, bursting with flavour and colour.

The Moscow Mule is a wonderful refreshing drink for summer and a warming one for winter. I don’t know if God exists, but if she does, she wants you to drink this cocktail.

Over winter, you can try their eggnog or a fabulous (but strong!) tiramisu (“Tir-RUM-misu”) cocktail – Italy doesn’t know what it’s missing. They also have this great strawberry brûlée (above) – part cocktail, part dessert, all good.

Apart from the extensive cocktail list, there is a very good selection of malt whiskies and other spirits. Prices for a single malt start at around 10,000 a glass but climb steeply depending on the size of your wallet and your desire for older, rarer, deeper malts. You can eat and drink here without spending a fortune, of course, but be warned: an evening out here can easily get very expensive.

2: The food

Some go to M&M for the booze, but arguably more go for the food. The offerings prepared by “Kitchen ninja” Lois are mostly from the classic American comfort food range; Mac’n’cheese, lasagna, meatball subs, shrimp cocktails and so on.

I have too many photos of food to upload them all here, so a couple of my fave representative dishes will have to suffice. The Mac’n’Chilli (above) is a miracle of a dish – macaroni and chilli topped with a bubbling carapace of cheese and served with sour cream on the side.

Probably the crowning glory of the food menu is the 24-hour sous vide steak. M&M isn’t the only place using a sous vide cooker to prepare food, but this is definitely one of the best value deals in the city. For 25,000 KRW you get a huge steak, mashed potatoes, beans and gravy. If you haven’t tried sous-vide steak, be prepared for a very different flavour and consistency to the more regular sorts of grilled or pan-fried steak that you may be used to. This is worth travelling the city for.

Not all the food is blow-your-pants-off amazing, but it is consistently very good – apart from the above, the fish and chips, mozzarella poutine and meatball pasta are all worth your hard-earned. Even the salads here are good.

Oh, and the buffalo wings, made the proper way and very addictive. Don’t leave without trying these.

Finally, don’t omit to try the new roast beef sandwich (18,000, though final price still TBD) which is stacked full of perfectly cooked beef and served up with a salty French dip. Glorious.

3: The surroundings

Another trick that Mix&Malt pulls off well is being an appealing venue in winter and summer alike. During the sunny months, the patio is thrown open and it’s a lovely open air space for a drink in the evening. While we wait for warmer temperatures, there’s a roaring fire to warm yourself up by – in fact, I think there might be two fires.

This is a great place for a date (or so I’m told…), but if you really don’t want to talk to the person you’re with, there’s also shuffleboard, a Playstation, board games and a card table, and normally a superhero movie playing on the big screens, both upstairs and down. It’s not intimidatingly fancy, it’s not downmarket and casual… it’s somewhere in the sweet spot between the two.

4: The hospitality

The owner / host, Wendell, will always make sure you are well taken care of, and it’s a warm, friendly atmosphere. Service is cheerful and, unlike many places in Korea, they are happy to customize your food or drink order if there’s certain ingredients you prefer to avoid. Avoid the reprobates at the bar, though, especially the large man with a beard talking shite in the corner – that’s probably me.

5: The dogs

If none of this impresses you, try heading round on a Sunday and you may be lucky enough to meet Wendell’s two gorgeous dogs, Louie and Peanut. If you miss them, don’t worry – he’ll be happy to show you their photos.

All this sounds like an infomercial, I know, but it’s the result of many dozens of hours, and many hundreds of thousands of won, which I’ll never see again… but it was all in a great cause. Mix & Malt is a place that gets everything pretty much bang on right, and I’m glad it exists. A solid favourite.

  • Category: American / Cocktail bar
  • Price: $$$$
  • Must try:  Sous vide steak (25,000 won)
  • Subway: Hyewha Station (혜화역) exit 4
  • Directions: Mix & Malt is a five minute walk from Hyehwa subway exit 4. Come out of the subway and walk along the pedestrianised shopping street, and just after the CGV cinema you’ll come to a road crossing with a Starbucks on the other side of the road. M&M is in the little lane to the right of, and behind, the Starbucks. Look for the mural of Marilyn. The 143 bus from Noksapyeong also takes you directly to Hyewha station (and back from outside Starbucks), or you can ask a cab to take you to 성균관대 사거리 (Sungkyunkwan University sagori).
  • Hours: Open from 5pm on weekdays (including Mondays) and all day weekends from about midday until the small hours. Also, the kitchen is open pretty late (midnight or so) so it’s not a bad place to grab a late bite.

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