Having not had yet a single decent drink for three weeks since I have been in Taipei, Taiwan, I was thrilled to be invited to try some cocktails and food at EAST END BAR, located in the beautiful HOTEL PROVERBS Taipei.
And they are not just any cocktails – they have been created by world class cocktail master Hidetsugu Ueno’s, who has won countless international mixology competitions.
The hotel itself is located in Eastern Taipei, at Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station, a great area for (fashion) shopping, among other things. From the station, it’s a few minutes easy walk (except that day, which was about 50 degree Celcius with the humidex, making it the hottest day ever recorded in September in Taipei. Ever.).
Before sitting down and getting to our serious business (cocktails, that is), we were given a tour of the hotel. I was happy to discover renowned designer Ray Chen’s universe; a mix of modern and classic elements, old and new, with lot’s of raw materials and a touch of vintage (like the crystal chandelier in every room).
Think wood, coper, marble and leather, with a touch of warm color.
This 42 rooms boutique hotel opened only 2 years ago. Every room (all suites) is different, offering customers a new space at every visit. Each room has its own design and uniqueness, and some will definitely surprise you – like the one opening on the bath tub. Be ready for the unexpected!
It’s worth mentioning to the coper mirrored wall on the rooms’ floor. The finger prints on it, and there are many, are left there intentionally. The purpose of this? Having a space that constantly evolves, that is alive, where every guest leaves a little mark of their passage. Bold, to say the least!
Having been told that we were gonna sample some « bar food », I was not expecting what came to the table; refined, perfect-to-share plates of great food. We started with the house charcuterie plate, an easy pleaser. The dried duck slices, as well as the wagyu beef slices were our favorite.
We also tried the milk fish, a local traditional fish in Taiwan and it was quite a treat, we loved it.
Next plate to arrive : the grilled octopus. Perfectly cooked and tender, full of flavors; this was my favorite. Octopus doesn’t get any better then this! Given the fact it was fished not far away, the freshness certainly plays an important role. The fried capers that came with it were a perfect addition of saltiness, texture and flavor.
The portobello mixed mushrooms served with a 63 degree egg was another great dish. The mushrooms were delicious and salty, and combined with the creaminess of the 63 degree egg, it was pure culinary joy!
The last plate we shared of that day was the Seafood Paella. It’s a great sampling of fish and seafood flavors, as well as Spanish sausage. The rice is great too. A fabulous plate and quite a nice portion.
Now – let’s talk cocktail! Knowing that EAST END BAR is the only bar in the world partnered with legendary Japanese mixologist Hidetsugu Ueno, expect the best and only the best. Cocktails are created by Ueno and other master mixologists and prepared with a real and obvious savoir-faire.
We tried the East End, a sweet and delicate cocktail with a little sourness to it. It smelled so good, like a little draft of a delicious and sweet perfume.
The second one was simply amazing; an Old Fashioned, with a Taiwanese twist! I never tasted an old fashion that was so perfectly balanced, so easy to drink.
Even if Whiskey if not your thing, I bet this version of this classic would make you fall in love.
As far as cocktail quality goes, what Ueno considered the crucial element is the ice cubes. The quality of the water used is very important, as it influences the ice cubes, and thus also influences the flavor of the drink. The shape of the ice cub will also influence how it melts and therefore, is very important as well.
For this drink, the ice cub used (yes, ONE ice cube, precision is the key here!) had a diamond cut. We were impressed!
For our last drink, Vic, the bar tender on duty, suggested his favorite cocktail, made with Scotch and beet juice, among other things.
Beet does not grow in Taiwan, therefore, it is a very exotic ingredient to add to a drink here. It’s also pretty bold, I would say. Even if beet juice is pretty common for me, I usually drink it in a smoothie, not an alcoholic fancy cocktail!
Looking at Vic preparing our drink was quite entertaining. Obviously, technique matters and he is in perfect control of his art.
That drink was absolutely and surprisingly delicious; refreshing, sweet and beautifully balanced.
We had a great time at the EAST END BAR and I am looking forward to my next visit. The place is very popular and get packs during the weekend nights. With it outdoor terrasse, it’s a fabulous place to spend a Friday night among a fashionable and urban crowd – no doubt!
EAST END BAR
Sun – Thurs: 14:00 pm – 1:00 am
Fri – Sat: 14:00 pm – 2:00 am
Reservations: +886 903 531 851
HOTEL PROVERBS Taipei
No. 56, Section 1, Da’an Road
Da’an District, Taipei
+886 2 2711 1118