Three Girls, A Bride, & A Speakeasy in Taipei

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The youngest of the Pitchin Bitches is getting hitched at the end of the year, so when we were planning our trip to Taipei, having a hen’s night for her there was a top priority on our list.

We considered doing a girl talk session with inexpensive facials, hiring a stripper at a stripper bar, or chilling out at a pub like the time we hung out at Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong 蘭桂坊.

Eventually, the bride-to-be decided she wanted to drink a little alcohol, relax and have a little girl talk. With the help of Google, the soon-to-be-Mrs picked out a speakeasy called Alchemy.

Looking for the speakeasy was not as easy as we thought it would be. Directions on the website said that it’s near Taipei 101 across the road from the World Trade Center. And upon further investigation we we told that Alchemy was situated above Marquee, just opposite Taipei 101 and nearby Taipei City Hall MRT exit 2. So that’s what we did.

IMG_3349Those instructions weren’t exactly incorrect, but despite having the directions to Alchemy on hand, we still got a little lost because the restaurant Marquee was so obscure! There were no obvious signs to indicate where Marquee was. Thank the heavens for GPS!

We walked from exit 2 to exit 3 then realised that the little dot was moving away from the pin so we doubled back and tried to look out for Marquee.

We had a reservation for 9pm and because we were told they would only hold our reservation for 15mins, the clock was ticking. And fast. I decided to save time by walking into 1Bite2Go, a café & deli and the only business in the vicinity still open to ask where Marquee was. Turns out, Marquee is right next to 1Bite2Go!

So in the future, for anyone intending to go to Alchemy, it’s closer to exit 3 and when you get above ground with the road to your left, make a U-turn and walk straight ahead towards 1Bite2Go. The inconspicuous door to Marquee is on the same level as 1Bite2Go and right smack between that deli and Sparkle Hotel. Let the staff in Marquee that you have a reservation at Alchemy and they’ll show you to the stairs that will lead up to the speakeasy.

I was blown away by Alchemy. It was quite dark inside, but once your eyes get used to the low light, you will see that the speakeasy’s décor is inspired by the 1920s Prohibition-era with sleek leather armchairs, red brick walls, and a fireplace complete with a glowing fake fire.

There is a 2 drink minimum per person, but the drinks were really interesting so the only problem I had was a tough time choosing. We also got to enjoy a 2-piece live band at Alchemy as well. And because it was a week day, the speakeasy was practically empty. We made a reservation for 9-11pm but actually stayed until the place closed for the day! Perfect for our little girl-talk session.

And now a breakdown of the drinks we had that day. This part I had a little help from my Pitchin Bitches as the details of the night are a little fuzzy to me. I had 3 strong drinks, so I have a good excuse.

Round 1:

  • Pamy – Hurricane Smash (Havana Blanco, Tropical Fruit Puree, Pineapple Syrup, Lemon Juice, Myer’s)
  • Shuping – Gimlet (Gordon’s Gin, Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice)
  • Chewie – White Lady (Gin, Cointreau, Lemon Juice)
  • Monica – Milk Punch (Hennessy Vsop, Dark Rum, Milk, Caramel)

The Milk Punch had both a hot and cold option. I totally wanted to get the hot Milk Punch but was told that only the cold one was available. The difference? The hot one was stronger than the cold one. Dang! I’ll try it next time!

The Milk Punch came in a mug that made me feel like I was gulping down ice chocolate instead of alcohol. But still, it was a mighty good drink.

Round 2:

  • Pamy – Summer Breeze (Bourbon, Bitters, Ginger Ale, Lemon Juice)
  • Chewie – Chrysanthemum Fizz (Tanqueray No. 10 Gin, Chrysanthemum Syrup, Grapefruit Juice)
  • Monica – Toffee Manhattan (Premium Bourbon, Martini Rosso, Bitters, Toffee Syrup)

Not sure if Chewie had the Chrysanthemum Fizz or the Ramos Gin Fizz (Gin, Orange Blossom Water, Egg White, Milk, Sweet, Sour, Soda Water). Although, I have a nagging suspicion that it was the former. Anyone know for sure?

Anyway, my Toffee Manhattan was really quite strong but that’s why I liked it. I’ve had cocktails that were real disappointments before. But this drink was very smooth. The toffee was not overpowering or overly sweet. And the subtle taste of toffee hits you only after the alcohol goes down your oesophagus.

Round 3:

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The Heart of Aztec. Strangely, this cup reminds me of Harry Potter.

  • Chewie – A shot of whisky, on the rocks
  • Monica –  Heart of Aztec (Don Julio Reposado, Honey, Cacao Liqueur, Lime Juice)

This was the last cocktail I had that night.

And for my last cocktail I was torn between getting the Bank of Mafia or the Heart of Aztec. I don’t know how the former tastes but I know I liked Heart of Aztec least of the 3 cocktails I tried. On closer inspection of the ingredients for the Bank of Mafia, which is Templeton, Caramel, Sweet Vermouth, and Bitters, I think I might have enjoyed that more than the Heart of Aztec. Oh well, all the more reason to go back to Taipei and Alchemy to try that drink.

IMG_2961We weren’t ready to leave, so we ordered a bottle of white wine to share while we continued to play 20 questions with the bride-to-be. Although it was just simply 4 girls sitting at a watering hole drinking, chatting, and laughing together, it was a night to remember.

One of the things I loved about Alchemy and Taipei, even after we finished our wine, none of the staff told us to get lost. They closed at 2.30am, and while I absolutely cannot remember what time we stayed there till, none of the staff chased us out of the speakeasy until way after closing time. We felt so bad for holding everyone back.

When we finally got out of the speakeasy, we realised that it was raining like cats and dogs. Finally! We could put our raincoats and umbrellas to good use. And then I went and hurt myself with my faulty umbrella. But even though that happened, this hen’s night was a definitely an unforgettable event.

Here’s a shot of the cocktail menu, which 2 drinks would you have picked if you visited Alchemy?

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Address: 2F, 16-1 Xinyi Rd, Sec 5, Taipei City (台北市信義路五段16-1號2樓)
Telephone: 0953-585-759
Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays from 9pm to 2.30am

Remember to make a reservation 1-2 days in advance as walk-ins are not accepted and seating is limited to about 50 people. If you go on a Wednesday and Thursday, you’ll also get to enjoy live jazz and blues.

What do you think?
Have you visited a speakeasy before? Is there a speakeasy in your country that we absolutely must visit? What about a speakeasy do you like? Is this how you would celebrate your hen’s night? Why or why not?

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