Oul is a late-night venue where the cocktails nod to the past, present, and future of after-hours Seoul.
Korea’s millennials and Generation Z have been showing renewed interest in traditional spirits as of late, and Four Seasons Hotel Seoul is tapping into the current zeitgeist with the debut of a locally inspired mixology den. The space that formerly housed Boccalino Wine Bar has been remodeled into Oul, a 70-seat venue that’s slated to open its doors on March 23. Pronounced “owl” (to acknowledge its expected night-owl clientele), the bar’s name is derived from the English spelling of Seoul. Cultural references here abound: the five-shade decor was inspired by the traditional Korean color spectrum, while employee uniforms present a contemporary take on the hanbok outfit.
Naturally, the main draw is a three-part cocktail menu designed to express the city’s long-standing culture of liquor-making and fermentation. Each tipple was conceptualized and created by Keith Motsi, head bartender of the hotel’s acclaimed speakeasy bar, Charles H., alongside senior bartender Seungjeong Ike Ryu. At Oul, the pair will be introducing a mix of Korean specialties and seasonal sips that reflect the evolution of drinking culture in Seoul through the ages.
On the “Traditional” menu, patrons will find an alcoholic version of the classic hwachae fruit punch, while sikhye — a dessert drink made from fermented malt and rice — has been reimagined with craft soju, pumpkin cordial, refined milk, and chai tea. Meanwhile, the “Turn of the Century” range plays off drinks popularized during the pre-war Gyeongseong Era. For example, sujeonggwa cinnamon punch is spiced up with apple cider, crystallized fruits, roasted cinnamon cordial, aroma bitters, and barrel-aged soju. Oul also gives Korea’s popular poktanju (“bomb shot”) a modern twist with the addition of maple syrup and smoked cranberry.
A must-try from the “Today and Beyond” selection is the Kimchi Highball, which surprises with green chili soju, kimchi salt, and kimchi jus. Small-batch sodas from local producer On a Lark come in flavors such as ginger and rose, lemon and lavender, and omija (magnolia berry). As for craft beers, Oul has partnered with Busan’s Gorilla Brewing Company, considered the flagbearers of South Korean craft beer culture.
Complementing the drinks menu is chef Jae-Young Lee’s range of Korean “s-Oul food.” Made with only local ingredients, the bar bites include Italian arancini with aged kimchi styled as “kimchi bombs,” plus lamb jerky and fried seaweed dusted with chili powder. Street food–inspired plates range from lobster tteokbokki and squid bada ramyeon to Korean fried chicken with chili sauce and chipotle mayonnaise.
More information here.