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)