Taipei’s most immaculate bar

Luo Hsia-an, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — KOR isn’t pretentious. To be pretentious, it would have to write checks that it couldn’t cash, like aiming for a grand interior but getting an ostentatious one, or boasting about fine drinks and serving Johnnie Walker Blue. (Well, KOR does serve that, but I can get over it.) To be clear, KOR promises a classy setting, big sound and good drinking, and it cashes each check handily, something that’s pretty rare around these parts. The club, in Taipei’s East District, opened last year. It’s the brainchild of theLOOP, the local nightlife group responsible for the OMNI club in Da’an, among others. There are some stark differences between the two. It seems like the folk behind KOR are putting a stronger influence on the food-and-drink side of things. It’s also a better place for socializing; whereas OMNI has retained Luxy’s dimly lit style, KOR has noticeably brighter lights (look at the photo on the right — I’ve been in darker McDonald’s) and higher ceilings. That’s not to say the music isn’t a draw, because it is. The club has a custom-made, chrome-finished sound system from VOID Acoustics (the same guys who did OMNI’s), with 30 speakers spaced around the interior. That might not mean much, but you can tell as you enter that they spent some money on the system — it is loud, bassy and crisp with rarely any blaring. Another way KOR differs from OMNI is in music choice. One of the most common criticisms of the latter is about it overplaying EMD, and KOR seems to agree, opting instead for more old-school music. Usually you’ll hear a healthy mix of soul, new jazz, funk, hip-hop, rap and trap.

And now on to the good stuff.

Cocktails Angus Zou, the genius behind the drinks at Alchemy, helped KOR craft its cocktails. In fact he apparently invested in it, so you know the mixology is solid. Let’s take a look at two of the cocktails on the menu. First, the Kentucky Spring. The base is Kentucky whiskey infused with osmanthus, and to this is added salted plum syrup. You can taste the effect of each ingredient, if not each ingredient itself. There’s a quite bold, complex flavor overall, highlighted with floral and fruity accents. They really do taste like spring.