Alchemy Bar Review (Taipei)

This past summer, I started out a bit late in a bar hop in which the bars seemed to become progressively better with each jump.  I joined about midpoint, meeting up with everyone else at a bar called Motown in Taipei (which also has its own bottling with the same name accordingly).  The staff and the place was nice, but a review for another occasion.

Anyways, after a few drinks, we decided to change locations to the one in mention – Alchemy.  Not quite sure where I was, being that we shared a taxi, we approached a door with two distinct names in white lights and a podium outside.


I was not sure what to expect on the inside, but when we stepped in, there was a beautiful young woman that met us another podium and asked a few questions.  Busy taking pictures, I let the other members of the party handle that.  (apparently we needed a reservation, but didn’t have one).  Once inside, I looked through the door to the left and saw a fully stocked bar arranged in a circular formation in the middle of the room.  Assuming this was our destination, I proceeded towards it, only to notice that everyone else kept walking straight.

Torn between correcting myself and continuing into this bar, I decided to continue to tail everyone else, entering into a very spacious room with several beer pong tables set up.  I wondered how we could have gone from one bar, passed up another, only to arrive at a place to play beer pong.

P1100505Standing in the doorway, pondering going back through the other door to order drinks and enjoy some hard alcohol while everyone else enjoyed beer, I noticed that once again, everyone had made a hard right through a seemingly hidden door.



This door lead to a narrow stair case, and once inside, I recognized the familiar buzz and the door lock behind me as if this were my former life frequenting a weed spot in North Philly.  I knew that we were either locked in, or this door had to be unlocked from our final destination.  Not certain what to expect, the staircase opened up to a door inside a third door that was completely hidden, a cave that housed a 1920s style speakeasy.

To my amazement, this bar was extremely nice and discrete, being honest, I don’t tend to give my personal opinion, but I must admit, it is one of the nicest bars I have ever been to.  The décor of the leather chairs, fireplace and mantel that are placed almost directly in front of the door, give it the feel of a gentleman’s den.  Immediately to the right of the door is the bar, whereas facing the door are a series of tables and chairs with windows behind them.


Turning right and walking towards the end of the bar, the establishment begins to open up, showcasing a piano and several isolated booths, perfect for private parties of 6- 8 people.  Eventually this path makes its way to the rear of the parlor, concluding at the bathroom.

To the left of the fireplace there is a door that leads to a slightly loft where people are able to overlook both the beer pong tables and the circular bar below.

This night, the place was almost fully packed (which explains the requirement for prescheduled reservations).  The atmosphere is dimly lit, resembling a speakeasy, with the music to match.  This place is definitely suitable to be considered a final destination for the evening, or a place where its possible to sit and talk for the duration of the evening without having to find another form of entertainment.

It was a bit difficult to determine if it was possible to randomly meet members of the opposite sex there as the arrangement of the chairs, tables and interactions between customers made it confusing as to who was with each other – although the bar did have a surplus of single women.   After remaining there until closing, and having to be asked to leave, all of us, had wished that we would have arrived at this bar first.


King Block Dean


Tokyo International Bar Show – The Transfer Student


I gazed upon her in pure lust – admiration for the body  that had come into my vision.  A standard of beauty I had not known, traditional, not polluted by a foreign cultural context, she maintained her own tradition, and this built her mystique, which in turn became a node of grotesque attraction.  I had a brief introduction, but had not known her history intimately, yet at this point in her life cycle, overlooked, she had already blossomed into a grown woman,  illustrious, radiating all of her glory.

Infatuated, I observed from a far, knowing that the calculated opportunity to make her acquaintance would present itself.  Recognizing the problem in this equation, I sat next to her in class, lateral isles similar to islands separated by a single ocean.

Discretely observing fractions of her interests, subtly interpreting the coded sign language of her geometric figure until my brailed improved,  we were drifting in sink, solving computations.  Tranquil waters, from the peaks of untouched snow capped mountains, seeping through the breast of valleys, over a body of rock, sediment and minerals that add character to her being, the base for her ascension.

As a youth, she attempted to mimic the Scottish standard of beauty….although she remained unappreciated at home, her essence, and core spirit produced an unparalleled concoction that, when engulfed, became intoxicating to the world.  From the time she came into my sight, I could foresee that year after year, she was approaching her pinnacle – an underdog that won the race, now on her high horse with an infant’s bubble waiting to burst.

P1060468It would be merely a matter of cycles before she would be cast among the others as an old face, once extremely attractive merely because she was the newest face in the crowd, later conformed and withered by her suitors.  Perhaps I could contribute to her longevity, distilling aqua vitae with her reputation – tales and fables that could be carried from generation to generation in different walks of society.

P1060326Pioneers recognized her beauty and potential, becoming 49ers they rushed to exploit and excavate her plausibility.  A gold rush for some, locker room bragging rights for others.  All ultimately a theatrical stage for her introduction to the world.  They had no intent to comprehend, just pushed to the next grade.

Temporary experiences sustained with silk embroidery, delicate, easily torn, frayed and sown.  Nor did they fully treasure the contributions made by her ancestors, resistance and struggles strong enough to compress carbon and create authentic diamonds – in the rough, fashioned to be worn as jewelry amongst royalty.

Graduating, 4 years later, I stepped forward to exhibit myself at the talent show, not as a show, but rather as an act of love.  The books, the travels, the drinks, the food, the citizens have all given me insight, but yet I must humble myself and know that I will never be able to discern her full range of spirits.

King Block Dean










R&D Lounge Bar



According to the GPS we were there, but I had to circle the block three times just to make sure.  The first time to find the location, the second time to find the location.  The third time to locate parking (still hadn’t found the location before I determined the exact spot of this discrete place, but I had seen a door that had some strange marking on it). I felt as if this were a game of hide-and-go-get-it (this generation may never know the games young boys and girls once played outside).


P1040777I parked the car around the corner in a random basement parking lot and cut through a small pathway just outside and reached the street where the bar should be located.  I saw people smoking on the street, so I knew I was in the vicinity, and I approached the door that was barely visible from the car, intricately designed with the logo of the bar.  A friend of mine questioned how I could spot that from the street – intuition.


Environment / Atmosphere –

We walked into the bar, where we were asked to wait by the door, and place our order – as usual, not having reservations, I thought that they might be trying to seat (stand us) at the door.  There was a large wooden wedge protruding from the wall, where people were congregated at the entrance with their drinks.


Upon entering the venue, the bar is located immediately to the right, and a display case with several big circular transparent glass vases partitions the room into 1/2s (splitting the room, essentially from the middle of the bar forward).  The area of the room which is easily seen has standard size tables that can seat 2-4 people and can also be arranged to seat more if need be.



On the opposite side of the partition there are also chairs that accommodate two to four people, in addition to barstool style high rise seats.  There is a small room on that side of the venue as well (couldn’t figure out what purpose it served).


On the wall opposite the bar is a small pagoda – a traditionally styled roof, wooden beams, which appears to be silently making its presence known, notably the best feature of this establishment (however it appears that due to the fact that it accommodates multiple people, my assumption is that someone must make reservations prior to using it).

We were seated by our server Ann, an attractive young woman with a good ability to speak English.  However, being that the bar was crowded and there must have been some mix up with the seating, were promptly asked to give up our seats for a larger party.  Being that I like to talk shit, I asked Ann, “if I do this favor for you, what will you do for me?” and she took me up on the challenge, offering me and my friend some shots.  Magic words, we promptly moved, (although I didn’t expect this to be true).



My friend (a U.S. citizen that studied in China with me that currently resides in Korea), ordered a standard Gin & Tonic.  I, myself as is customary, went to ask for the signature cocktail from the head bar tender (not knowing what it is or who it is from), and was told that everyone makes the same drinks.  What the fuck is that?  I couldn’t understand this concept, so I had to explain what I meant by it in detail.  I was basically told that the has its own set of drinks and that these are the signature cocktails – but that the bar itself has its own cocktails.

Slightly perplexed, I told Ann that this was the first time I had heard of something like this, and there were so many different sets that I wouldn’t know where to begin, nor could my wallet afford to taste all of the variations.  I asked her to make the selections for me, she brought back the shots – I asked for her “line” and Facebook – instantaneously a new friend.

IMG_3171[1]The first drink she brought back was a slight miss, although, i must admit for its style, it was rather good, however, for my pallet, I didn’t particularly care for it, but you know me, I drunk it anyways.  I told her that it was a slight miss for me and why, the next two drinks that came were right on point.  Having noticed that my friend kept ordering the same Gin & Tonic, she asked if he wanted to try their infused version.  Being that he is the straight up type of person, of course he questioned it, but gave it the green light.


We met another group of foreigners while were there, they were a work team from the U.S. that had been assigned to work in Taiwan for about 10 days, thus they were visiting, similar to my friend.  It seems that the nature of this bar is a pit-stop before hitting a final or next destination for the night. But, being that my friend and I hadn’t seen each other in several years, we opted to remain there the rest of the night.  This isn’t necessarily the type of place one should go to meet look for new women, however it is possible to talk to new people if you’re bold enough to approach them.  I would definitely recommend this place for friends that wish to meet up over a drink or even a place where couples can go for a date in a laid back environment.

King Block Dean (El.Sin.Say)

Yamazaki Distillery – Social Engineering

Without the proper hierarchy intact, we were lawless, unguided spirits with heart and courage unmatched.  No restrictions on a shogun with the exception of the honor of samurai guidelines, left to our own free will under a puppet leadership, a dangerous concoction.

We knew the life and this was it.  Born into a preexisting feudal system known as life, although thought to be free, we didn’t realize that we were caged and physically isolated on an island, topped off by a glass ceiling.  I thought that this was it, everywhere was the same, all neighborhoods were the same, all childhoods were equal – same thing, various places, only difference was the location.

Although the cage was not ours, we fought outsiders to preserve our enclave’s image and way of life.  With an erection of battle ships at our borders, combined with governmental resources being handed down in minuscule amounts, sacrificial offerings atop of ziggurats geared towards appeasing.  Polytheistic survival strategies for the scraps that were donated to us from deities in the natural world.

Praying – perverted vocal hymns, misdirected meditation with the absence of action, or perhaps the implementation of the passive action of praying, the drums were stripped, the rhythm stopped and paralysis set itself upon the movement.    The fists were strong, yet all efforts to preserve land that was stolen were sabotaged – gentrification was inevitable – trick or treaties.

Some went against the grain, trying to enhance their physical abilities, attempting beautification in the fashion of a peacock, flaunting, attraction, deception, and aspirations to fly through the jungles untouched.  Resistance from both sides of the fence, against those that expanded their mental capabilities, skepticism of intent.  SWOT assessment, permitted to assimilate into the mainstream, becoming part of the herd, abandoning the ideology of infiltration, but never fully accepted by the aggressors.

Isolated where the gutters collect what they can from the dirt, the curb, the corner.  The corner of the city named in its native tongue “the angels” where outsiders perceive a positive connotation, overlooking the fact that light bearer also maintained this title.  Therefore, there must be preference…preference for some to receive disparate treatment.

We were sick, yet never diagnosed – a mutation was injected into our genealogy that were designed to  be vaccines, preventing our uncivil ways from once again manifesting themselves.  Hellen Keller was fortunate, she had Anne Sullivan, however we have no voice to be heard, no sympathizers, nor eyes to behold the systematic illnesses that were forced upon us.

The result – unable to trust those closest to us in proximity, therefore subsequently unable to trust those from afar in which in a place where we were constructed.  Respect, earned through tribulation.  Tribulation determined by hardship, hardship determined by economic status.  A unique bond for love, grounded  love through respect.  Never forget that we were genetically engineered to be superior before modern stem cell and DNA experiments, our current existence is testament to their success.




IG – King Block Dean












































































Safe Bubbles & Malt


Located in Hong Kong, this bar can easily be overlooked from a Taxi’s window, however, if one happens to be walking up the street, the entrance is extremely noticeable.  The large iconic “bank vault” style lock, signals that one has arrived at the safe.


The exterior décor is extremely suitable for this location, given the fact that its interior houses hundred of thousands of dollars worth of liquid gold (literally).  The expressions at this establishment range from simple Japanese and Scottish aged statements (discontinued 10 years) on up to the extremely rare and well sought expressions that are typically only found at auctions (closed distilleries).

Although it is a very small location, it has made excellent use of the space available, minimalistic Asian style bar, with presentation and technology at its core.  The evenings that I went, the atmosphere is extremely dimly lit.  As one enters, immediately in front of the door is the bar that gives way to high ceilings, with the mixologist’s ingredients being attained by modality of a ladder (similar to how books are archived in a library or bookstore).

At the bar, there iPads available that maintain an inventory of every drink in this establishment.  Although I have experienced this at several restaurants with their wine menus, i must admit that this is the first time encountering this at a bar.  One could potentially spend at least 30 minutes or an hour entertained by the depth of the offerings, with the staff being able to expand and compliment any further explanations that maybe required.


To the left of the entrance, encased in series of sliding glass doors are the “safes” or the vaults that contains over 600 expressions of extremely whisky.   Being the main showcase and attraction for this bar, the bottles produce an ancient attraction more so paralleling a museum than a bar, with the well-educated staff being its curators.


In comparison to Taiwan, the prices here are extremely expensive (but this strain could also easily be attributed to my humble income), however on this island, set afloat by hedging and futures, one might find the “offering vs price” perfectly acceptable.


King Block Dean 


Miyagikyo Distillery – Domestic Violence


Reared in a house of excessive alcohol consumption that eventually turned to cocaine, prompted from depression and lack of confidence derived from a world that was destined to have us in servitude.  Opposition to the aggressors – defenders of the kingdom in Chess, melanin encoded in genes , extra terrestrials, solar powered by the sun, yet blinded – living in the dark – carbon, neutrons and protons God’s number that has been perverted.


Gazing at the stars, Milky way dreams deferred, finding inspiration for artistic work in the lowliest of places, intently listening to the street: ghettos, bars, captivated by the stories of gangsters and prostitutes, gravitational pull, eventually being transported to a new galaxy through a portal similar to a star losing its energy and eventual luster in a black hole.

The astronaut that ventured well beyond the countryside, and in avertedly brought the darkness home to where he rests.  An alien that became a functional chameleon, unrecognizable to the residents of his castle after ascending from the lair where the bottom dwellers feel confident.


A liquid that metamorphosed  Mr. Hyde into the Dr. – spirits that caused the household to become petrified, scattering at night, only to reconvene during his height of his hibernation.  Outbursts that were short sighted:  foaming of the mouth, protruding veins, sewage drain scented, the howl of the beast, the destruction of matter, irrational jibberish….Generational, long lasting implications in the offspring:  isolation, loss of confidence, bed wetting, internalized anger, thoughts of suicide….symptoms of mental abuse.


Self preservation led to premature ejecting from the nest, becoming his own explorer, venturing as far as the national border would carry him.  After years of circumventing and evading confrontation, he was on his own accord in the wilderness.  Physically removed, transporting transmitted demons that have mutated within his own being – S. Weaver.


Tolerance was built, however prolonged exposure to highly rectified spirits allowed these spirits to manifest themselves.  In the dream realm, suppression of past events and experiences would become reflective reality, and I was forced to confront them.  Intrinsic explorations that led to revelations, unrecognized internal bleeding from the heart – a black hole with no surgeon.



Joint ventures, business proposals, arranged marriages, learn and leave – a process repeated and transplanted from coast to coast to country to country that assisted in the evolutionary process.  Prior to the magnetic junction of polar cells – cold attraction, hot lubricated friction and sparks… a big bang producing universal life.



Self restraint within the psyche altered the genealogy, creating an antibody in the system that has overridden the primitive urges – mind over matter.  However, being exposed to elements of various geographic locations, pollen, dust and living organisms have become a trigger for violent allergic reactions.



An igloo of ice, encasing a warm heart with menstrual blood bringing homoeostasis well below 96 degrees.  The room temperature varies with mood swings, the elevation of a child whose legs swing to and fro, adrenaline at the highest points, and fear at the lowest.  The lowest are points in new galaxies through portals similar to a star losing its energy and eventual luster in a black hole.



Returning to the essence of energy for the purpose of detoxification similar to a plant converting rays through the processing photosynthesis converting fumes to breathable gas.  Maturation, attempting to return to my rectified universal format, a composite of star dust – 6 neutrons, 6 protons and 6 electrons.














King Block Dean































































Whisky Live – Manila – The Art of Whisky

P1150525String theory, a harp that evokes emotion within the known senses.  A lyre that connects all creatures that have ever existed, vibrations and solids between the gaps in life.  Views beheld, melodic noises, distinct ingestion, pleasurable aromas, the medium of varied surfaces – Sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, expressed in a unique multitude only to be pacified as preference, however, in its implicit essence, should be more accurately labeled – singularity, encompassing, unifying, one – A.R.T. (All Rendered  Together).

Two plates, strong willed with opposing forces, came together and formed a plain for existence: paint with oil, Kammerdian soil and water, bronze against stone – canvasses, sculptures, decorative ornaments.


Destructive, eruptive forces, created a hostile environment that, with extended time, would become a peaceful utopia, one of the most coveted natural resources sought, another medium for creative expression – the land.

The young artisan farmer, passively mentally defeated from quarreling with Mother Earth, left his seed on an isolated tectonic plate of fertile land in the Pacific Ocean.  Scene imagined by an artist, mountains cupped by the hands of a sculptor, a blacksmith melding metallic minerals that give way to precious stones, providing protection for his growth.

The island provides all of the essential elements, contrasts and tribulations , and necessary for survival, however, the feminine and scornful personality of nature, must be balanced by the harsh, masculine nature of time to generate a timeless masterpiece.




The Gardner, a harvester which only returns every season to benchmark his seeds growth – Mother Nature – Father Time….birth, death and the resurrection of the field.

P1150352Sometimes he would disappear beneath the earth, whole harvest seasons passing without a word, at other times he would feel the warm blanket of the son on a weekly basis.  Always watching from a distance, admiring the growth of the seed’s trunk, leave, limbs and petal – blossoming into maturity.  As the farmer had grown older, the time had come to make a decision:  tend to two gardens himself or uproot the developing sapling and replant it in a field with the farmer’s other seeds – Relocate home – Stay in the Region

On the horizon, a new type of soil was being imported, the canvas of the landscape would surely change.  Turned, tilled, fertile, and comprised of  minerals and nutrients necessary for growth, it would surely usher in the natural progression of the seasons that accompany growth of a field, an industry – later mastered and viewed as a form of art.

An opportunity for Father Time to get his artisan tools, and implement skills in a new industry that would allow him to extend his presence beyond this region of the universe, and the confounds of Mother Earth, ultimately becoming a fable handed down from generation to generation by those that initially made the land fertile – unimaginable potential.

Mental and physical preparations for a subsequent lunar cycle which is forecasted to provide an abundance of nutritious fertile land that will lead to exponential growth for a liquid deprived civilization.


King Block Dean




Backyard Jr. (Backyard XinYi)


My second encounter: I had been here before briefly by myself at the conclusion of watching My Little Pony (out with the family), so I wasn’t able to spend a long time in this location.  However, this time, it was the destination of a friend of mine which I had the honor of driving around for the night – founder of Whisky Live Manila – Johnssen.

The name, inherited as a sequel to the time honored bar Backyard, that was established by one of Taiwan’s (and the region’s) top drink expert – Steven Lin.  Knowing that I would take interest, she “allowed” me to go upstairs briefly to check it out, I stayed there a mere 30 – 35 minutes, therefore this review might not be giving it complete justice.



We arrived just before the mall was set to close and he was perplexed at the idea that the  bar would stay open later than the mall.  Coming up the escalator to the third floor (my first time, the mall was closed, but I was able to take the elevator up), we easily found the location of the bar at the end of the mall, and I was slightly impressed that it could manage to consume this much space, (not because of the amount of space, but rather, because I know that the opposite end of the mall is occupied by Cartier, Prada, Rolex and stores of this nature – therefore the rent must be expensive to sustain).


Approaching this establishment from the outside, there is a large panorama window with a deep tint, that spans the entrance side of the wall with a series of Mortlarch pot stills located on the interior.  The tint on the window, combined with the lights in the interior of the mall, provide a perfect discrete nature for the occupants inside.


This place conceals over 2,000 various expressions of spirits from around the world, that could be adds to the atmosphere, but could also be slightly overwhelming for a novice.


The staff is extremely knowledgeable and professional, conducting themselves and customers with the most respect, speaking both Chinese and English.  This place is definitely, tailored to a specific crowd; those adults aspiring to taste various styles of whisky, those that gathered to enjoy a slightly luxurious social spot, or those merely stepping out for a date with the underling theme hinting towards upscale exclusivity.

Stepping inside, there is a wall of alcohol enclosed in gated cabinets to the left. and the bar is located directly opposite = of the entrance, spanning 3/4 the length of the room.  Behind the bar there is a large window, concealed by hundreds (if not thousands) of bottles of alcohol.  In front of the wood grained bar, there are the standard bar stools (where customers are able to sit and be educated about the bar’s offerings).

Just past the entrance, immediately to the right, there is a series of leather couches and tables, extremely suitable for long captivating conversations with an atmosphere that ushers in comfort, making it very easy for hours to go unnoticed.  In the middle of the room there is a support beam that is decorated with photographs and a wooden art installation.


Although the ceiling is decorated with anywhere from 50 – 100 hanging light bulbs, these used to give the effect of the room being lit by stars in the nighttime sky, as opposed to illuminating the room like a photography shoot.  On the wall which is all the way to the right, there is a large flat screen television, with aptly placed mural underneath.


To be honest, if you are entertained by the television while at this location, I fear that you selected the wrong place to solicit.  I don’t imagine that they would actually show sports or any television series on the TV – although, if one were willing to pay the money, I am certain that this entire might be rented out for a specific occasion, and the TV could then potentially be used as a screen for a slide show or something of that nature.

Over all, the environment has a nice earthy feel, the combination of wood, and glass accented by the dim lights, with a private outdoors balcony, helps create a distinct atmosphere that has stands alone with its own personality in this domestic market.

An additional offering in this bar includes the private Mortlach tasting room camouflaged behind a functional curtain, large enough to fit 10 – 15 people easily, but yet secluded enough to feel like someone has escaped to a den in a newly renovated antique estate, complete with a replicated fireplace, worn, leather couches, matching arm chairs and a table centered in the room.


Johnssen, finding it curious that the place would be bustling for a Tuesday, late night, decided that we should proceed to our next destination (for this bar was merely a pit-stop in the first of a series that we would attempt to enjoy that evening).  Great conversation, solidifying a newly established friendship.  Taipei -> Manila connection


King Block Dean (El-Sin-Say)