All You Can (Or Responsibly Should) Drink Cocktails
Oh shit, it’s bul geum!! Fire Friday is the weekly holiday where everyone’s off work and tryna turn up for the weekend, and at Hamburo, we’re all about it. To facilitate your debauchery, we’re featuring a drinking spot each week to fit into one of the rounds of your night. Or, you could just grab some green bottles at a convenience store and get slammed in an alley. That’s on you fam.
During the day, the Gundae [건대] area is best known for the Common Ground shopping center, Chinese restaurants, and Gunguk University, which gives the neighborhood its name. At night, it’s an infamous hub for hunting and room pochas [룸포차], with a main street crowded with clubs, hunting pochas, and hotels. You get what goes on here. Honestly, it can be fun as shit.
But it probably goes without saying that, to make these otherwise miserable spots enjoyable, a certain amount of alcohol needs to be consumed. And that isn’t even considering that the way most of these places work is by telling a server who looks good, getting matched up, and making awkward conversation before either heading to round two or, you know, not. No matter what you plan to do in Gundae at night, it’s probably not going to be fun if you’re sober. I’m just being honest.
Of course, the standard answer here would be soju. And while all of the clubs, lounges, and hofs sell it along with western liquor, it’s obviously more expensive than it should be. There are a couple of cheap sul jibs [술집], and you could always hit a convenience store, or… you could have unlimited shitty cocktails for 15k.
A lot of things about B Lab [비랩] are kind of crappy. It’s a second floor spot with cheap café décor, flooded by pastel colored neon lights and draped with Christmas decorations and disco balls. The anju [안주] is pretty much limited to variations on tortilla chips. The music is usually less than great. They even style the name as Blab, which, if you can’t read the Korean version, would probably make you think it’s called blab, which is a really shitty name.
You may have glossed over that last paragraph because of a cliffhanger I put at the end of the one before it. Yes, it’s true; this place’s whole thing is that you pay 15,000 won when you sit down, and then you get a menu with “free” cocktails. The list is extensive, to say the least. The straight up cocktail section has 32 options, and that doesn’t include the milk options or specialty cocktails. You could have four different flavors of mojitos, any standard well drink, or even one of each of their 3 makgeolli [막걸리] cocktails. You could have it all, and the price is going to be the same – about as much as a craft cocktail at a bougier type of place.
One of the environment-based redeeming factors I have to give it is they have a lot of games. You can play darts, arcade games, or table board games while you drink, which is pretty cute. Naturally, the farther you make your way through the cocktail list, the more fun these cocktails get.
Binge drinking isn’t really a good thing, and legally we probably can’t (and totally don’t) condone it. But the reality is that, in order to do Gundae right, you kinda need a pregame. Unlimited drinks – and tons of varieties – can make that a great part of the night itself. If you’re trying to make moves and mix liquors, hit up B Lab. And be safe out there y’all.
Let us know what you think about this spot or what we said about it. For another article like this, check out last week’s Fire Friday feature about an underground hip hop bar.
Photo credits: @hojeong4686, @dnjafkd1996