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Pub review of Taipei's The Soup

pub review of The Soup

I'm a bit stumped about how to approach this bar review. On one hand, this was really a restaurant for most of the locals (I can't pronounce the Chinese name for the place, but I'm told that it would be translated as "The Soup" - but because I don't have an address or anything that tells me more about the place itself, I can't create a DrinkedIn pub listing or pub review for it.

So I'll continue in this blog to do what I can't do in a structured way. The nice thing about this place, is that I remembered (before I got sloshed) to take some pictures and make sure that someone got drinks bought by DrinkedIn (in this case, a couple sitting at a table got their drinks courtesy of DrinkedIn - he is from Estonia and she is from Australia - what their names were, I can't remember offhand... then again, I lied about taking pictures BEFORE I got sloshed). In fact, these pictures were after everyone had something to drink (I'm sure you can tell because of the sharpness of this picture below...):

In the back of The Soup was the bar (mostly for tourists) - they had a decent selection of whisky (ok, they had a single bottle of Glenmorangie Original and that was good enough for me - as well as a bottle of Glenn Grant as you'll see a friend of mine named Michael holding onto that bottle since the Glenmorangie was already empty by the time this picture was taken - actually, you can see the empty Glenmorangie in the back - most left-hand bottle). Well everyone had a great time.

Oh, back to the pub review. Oh yes, as you might suspect - this was not the most elegant, single-malt only, full of knowledgeable drinkers type of bar. In fact, the people serving the drinks didn't really know the difference between whisky and vodka other than the color. But this definitely was a fun place (mostly due to the people having drinks) and a perfect place to spread the gospel of DrinkedIn.

As I stated in an earlier article on bar reviews, different people will have different criteria for their reviews - some people wouldn't step into a place like this. However, I'm very flexible in that I appreciate fine liquor and still love to have a great time in spite of less then "top shelf" liquor (although I'm not sure I could tolerate "no liquor"... ;))

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Pub review of a great Taipei bar

This is about the bar review posted for Hell's Kitchen.


OK the description in the listing came from the taiwanfun.com website - I must give them a lot of credit...  it's accurate and then some. First of all, I felt like Alice in Wonderland stepping into another world. After walking the streets with hardly any spoken English and smells of "a unique cuisine" (I'm being nice here...), I immediately felt like I was in an Irish pub (ok, I was in an Irish pub - it's just that the shock was profound (or was this the drinks at the previous bar wearing off...)


Oh - did I mention that the vast variety of beers? I definitely need to write up a beer review (if I can remember what I actually drank, eh?) - I can't remember, but it was better than the Taiwan beer I had at dinner.

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Leaving Seoul for Taipei - in search for pubs in Taiwan

Well - given the jet lag and brief layover in Seoul (about 18 hours), I only had the opportunity to visit and give brief pub reviews for 3 bars in Seoul. I plan to make up for it in Taipei as I'll have about 3 days there to take a deeper look into the bars in Taiwan's capital.

Looking into taipeipubs.com, I do see many Western style bars with either a British or American flair. However, this time I will also keep a more open view of Taiwan's drinking culture and search for some specific drinks to review as well. For example, I do know that Japan makes some excellent single malts and I've yet to see if Taiwan offers a national drink (please comment if you do know of something specific).

taiwanfun.com does have a more exhaustive list of bars along AnHe Road in the SongShan district (must be Taipei's equivalent of Bourbon Street/French Quarter).

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Bars with a lot of Seoul!

I am just wrapping up some visits to some bars in Seoul, South Korea during a overnight transit connection to Taipei. I was put up by the airline in the Hyatt Regency Incheon and then started my quest to fit in a few pub reviews of these establishments in Seoul.

The first bar was in the hotel itself. OK, I didn't have to travel far, but it was convenient and looked intriguing. This was the Vy Bar inside the Hyatt. This bar review was written before the other two that I managed to visit (more in the city than the first). This was a bar for a younger crowd than I would have thought - considering that this Hyatt is filled mostly with airline crews in between flights. I would have expected a bunch of pilots and flight attendants - instead, it was definitely a younger crowd.

After dropping off my stuff in the hotel, I went to the Itaewon district and found a couple of interesting places to write bar reviews for... the first was the B One Lounge which first made me think I was in a trendy Manhattan club. Well, the hint of New York quickly faded to Seoul, but the "trendiness" definitely stuck.

A third pub review is of a pub called Scrooge Pub. This was the bar (finally) that I felt comfortable in. Keep in mind that while variety (especially of whisky) is definitely an important criteria, I would have to saw that a familiar, comfortable feeling played a big role in giving a more positive bar review for Scrooge.

From here it's on to Taiwan!

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Upcoming Bar Reviews - The Far East

Lots of bars and pubs in the US, UK and now in Brazil... but we don't (yet) have any bar reviews from the far east... that is... until an upcoming trip I'll be making real soon.

My plans are to visit Seoul and Taipei. While the Far East did not have a reputation of good liquor in the past (perhaps some Japanese Saki or Tsing Tao beer), I have heard good things about the past few years and the quality and selection  of single malts that these bars have to offer. Many new pubs are popping up that would make any Westerner feel at home but with a flair and character not found in your typical British pub.

Stay tuned for some upcoming bar listings/reviews from some unusual places... it might just be worth a road trip.

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Bar Reviews (part 2)

Last week I started a series on Bar Reviews. This week, I want to write a bit on a specific bar from way back in the past. This was a community bar known as The Boot (near Tulane University - this was a place I frequented during my college days).

The place was right across the street from our fraternity house and basically open around the clock. We could strut over in bare feet, enjoy a cheap beer, play some pinball and then head back in time for classes (what a way to study!) More than anything else, everyone knew everyone and it was a place we all could call our "home bar" - cheap, greasy food, plenty of cheap beer, good friends and enjoyable memories. Happy Hour meant 2-1 drinks and twice as many drinks was something not to be missed.

OK - my standards have changed as I grew older. My tastes are more refined and if I walked into The Boot again today without the nostalgic memories of the past, I would certainly turn my nose up at the place and never wander in again.

However, that being said... my bar review of The Boot during my college years would have been based on a different set of criteria and certainly not any less valid. Sure, the stench of beer on the floor and glass of the pinball machines is not a turn-on today, but the fact that we all thought of it as home certainly gave it a top rating in our minds. Good whiskey? Nah... "good" at that time was Jack Daniels and coke... but it always came with an extra serving of fun.

Writing bar reviews does not have to be done from with an "attitude" or some sense of snobbishness. The bar review is as much a way for someone to communicate an experience as it is to recommend to an unknown reader. As long as my review clearly states why this bar was always a "good time" - it's as valid of a bar review as those reviewing bars with an upscale scotch selection of single malts and fine leather furniture.

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What makes a good bar review?

Bar reviews can be a tricky thing. People want their share their opinions - this is just how people are... everyone has a blog and everyone has something to say (I'm no exception).

So... your favorite watering hole needs a review? You don't like the current reviews on the bar? Perhaps the bumbling idiot who wrote the previous bar review had no clue what you really like in a bar? Well, fear not... now is the time to write your own review.

Personally - there are many factors you need to consider when writing a bar review:

  1. Who will be reading the review (your audience)
  2. What is your message in your bar review... that is, are you trying to encourage the reader to visit this bar or are you writing a review about your own experience and how memorable it was?
  3. Quantitative factors - you will be asked to rate the bar according to some criteria - perhaps a combination of
    1. variety
    2. cost
    3. cleanliness
    4. atmosphere
    5. noise
    6. fun
    7. location
  4. What other message are you trying to give? A good bar review will give the reader some expectation of what he or she will experience when visiting the bar. By encouraging (or discouraging), a reader of your review will form a preconceived opinion - this might not be what you wanted to say - maybe you just wanted to say your piece (maybe blow off some steam) and let the readers form their own opinion.
  5. Be fair. Maybe you want to "get back" at a bar owner because of a bad experience. Readers often can tell when a reviewer has an agenda... your bar review will count much more if it is fair. If you have something negative to say, be clear and precise in why you had a bad experience.
  6. Be encouraging - you now had your own say... encourage others to share their opinions too.

There are hundreds of thousands of bars out there (DrinkedIn already has over 100,000 listings) - as much as we would like to, we just can't visit every one out there... we need to rely on well written bar reviews for some insight into someone's next evening out...

So... what are you waiting for? Find your favorite bar and write up your own bar review!

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Time out from bar reviews - more differences between men and women

OK - it's time to take a break from bar reviews and take another look at the differences between men and women - in particular what goes through each other's mind when asked simple questions:

(many thanks to Goldstar Beer - a fine Israeli brew - for their pictures below):

1. What goes through your mind when someone says "Let's go for a drink..."?

2. What happens when you need to pee?

3. What happens when you meet the opposite sex?

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Fact: Drinking increases your salary


·     male nondrinkers earn  12.8 percent less than drinkers,

·     female nondrinkers earn 25.5 percent less  than drinkers.[5]

·     The highest premia went to those professionals who have approximately 75 drinks/month[6].


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Good bourbon is not corn juice!

Sometimes I feel that bourbon is the Rodney Dangerfield of whiskey. Scotch drinker (and I'm one of them) sometimes turn their noses up at the thought of tasting "corn juice"

A good single barrel bourbon can match many of the single malt scotches in terms of flavor and richness. I believe that much of bourbon's "bad rep" comes from college kids mixing cheap bourbon with coke and drinking until they get sick. Well... they could have done the same with cheap scotch, so I'm not letting that get in the way...

For example, let's take an excellent single barrel bourbon - Elijah Craig 18 year old is a fine example of what makes bourbon an excellent drink. Well worth the money, a simple taste will convince even the most exclusive scotch drinkers that a bourbon can also be enjoyable.

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The Ace Hotel Lobby Bar

It seems that all the hot bars are now in hotels or call themselves hotels or inns (see earlier posts). Maybe it’s a good thing to have beds in such proximity to drunkenness (or maybe not, insert your most awful one-night stand story here). Well, now we can add the Ace bar/hotel to the list, which was previously an SRO (a homeless housing program) in the old Breslin hotel and now home to the hot restaurant with the same name (more on that to come). Beers are tad pricey at $7-8. But the rooms are pretty inexpensive (for NYC) starting at $170. So finally, a hip hotel hip middle class people can afford -a noble cause no doubt, almost as noble as housing for the homeless. As for the bar, rather being the typical trendy uptight hotel bar trying really hard to seem laid-back, this one is the real thing, the crowd and staff are actually relaxed. Plus, there is free wifi for “guests”, a nice alternative to Starfucks.

read more at my bar blog:


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1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila, Floor

I'm fascinated by the increase in tequila consumption and the ever expanding market. The past several years has shown a change in tequila drinking culture. Years before the association was for me either isolated, lonely, hardened men drinking away life's sorrows or a cheap, high-proof liquor whose taste could be covered if you put enough fruit and sugar in it, blended with some ice and froze the brain of the consumer so they couldn't think how awful the thing actually was. Now however, consumption is not so much drinking as tasting and indeed a  more of a refined social past time than the years before. The imbibing of is something much like the tastings of the wine connoisseur.

Admittedly, my tequila experience is nil. Prior to this recent foray into the tequila culture, my experience has been limited to losing a game of bar dice and being forced to take a shot of something akin to rubbing alcohol or drinking massive frozen drinks that gave me the aforementioned brain freeze along with a toothache from its cloying sweetness. Needless to say, a friend of mine (quite the aficionado) has for ages been carrying on now about how good a proper tequila is. I can’t say that I readily jumped on the band wagon. My stomach even as I began to write started to do a flip-flop at the mere thought of the noxious stuff. Pavlovian response to what I guess is a learned response from all the unsuitable tequila based drinks before. Said friend has even gone so far as to suggest I join her for a tequila tasting. She said the name of the place is Mayahuel. I heard that and my stomach didn’t flop, it dropped. All I could think of is “Beware of Maya”. Maya is the Hindu goddess of Illusion. Yes, I know different cultures, Hindu goddess, Mexican liquor, but the idea was palnted and I would not let illusion get in the way of reason and logic, logic being stay away. Further, I began to think this lady must have drank the worm and she was hallucinating . Honestly, tequila tasting? Okay, I can do a quick shot as long as I have salt lime, and a chaser. Quick and dirty. Still feel the  burn. This friend is one of my gourmand friends. One who supposedly has a refined palette. The suggestion certainly didn't sound fun, it soudned massochistic.  The “facts” as I knew them made me more then a bit dubious about her rhetoric. Nevertheless, there was something about her raving Perhaps what she said was that of a mad woman, but  she managaed to picque my interest and I’ve decided to venture into the uncharted Tequila terrain.

As a dilettante this foray is a bit scary. The little experience I do have (hangover flashbacks) makes me want to run screaming far, far away and curl up into a fetal position w/ my bottle, my lovely tried and true bottle of vodka. However, I realize that the facts as I know them are subjective and I should give tequila another go from a more objective standpoint. In order to do this, I knew I needed to learn some information about tequila.

I’ve stated  that in the past tequila and I don’t agree, the old adage is 1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila floor… I’m more 1 tequila, floor. It’s over for me, I’m done but those with a stronger consitution than I can last a bit longer. After doing a bit of research I came up w/what I felt were 4 major fundamental bits that prove useful to anyone wanting to "taste" and appreciate tequila in its true, pure form. The amount of 4seemed reasonable I thought this was a useful analogy in giving you, the reader, an overview without endlessly drawing out my own rhetoric, boring you  and by the 4th paragraph, casuing you to  fall asleep , out of the chair and on the floor.

1 Tequila: Blue Agave... The varieties of tequila have nothing to do with what tequila is made of. All types stem (pardon the pun) from the Blue Agave plant grown indigenous to Mexico and found in high-altitude, mountainous area northwest of Guadalajara called Jalisco… The name is derived from a town in the region, aptly named Tequila. The Blue Agave is a species called a succulent, growing long stems instead of leaves. These leaves retain large amounts of water thereby allowing it thrive in arid areas. The liquid that becomes what we know as tequila comes from the sap in the heart of the Blue Agave plant.

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Importance of drinking wine, beer, whiskey and other alcoholic drinks

To paraphrase W.C.. Fields, 
I don't drink water, because fish shit in it..

To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine... and those who don't. 
As Ben Franklin said:
In wine there is wisdom, 
in beer there is freedom, 
in water there is bacteria. 
In a number of carefully controlled trials,
 scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria   found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.
 we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting..

Water = Poop, 
 Wine  = Health.
Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of crap!

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information:
I'm doing it as a public service!

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Whisky Tasting at Norma Jean

I started with Royal Lochnagar, this is the base of Johnny Walker black and blue label. A relatively closed nose. Planed wood, light toffee, boat varnish. Linseed oil behind, even putty, and later a lychee-like acidity. With water the acidity comes up (acid drops), and the nose sweetens. Still a pleasant fresh woodiness or leatheriness, the varnish now supported by artists turpentine. Warm sand. After a while, coffee dregs with brown sugar. Not an obvious nose, however. (ok, I copied all this off a site that "knows" what it's talking about, but I liked it so much I can't type straight ...)

Next I went with a Whisky that is aged in Israel by the Israel Whisky Society. This was a surprisingly good cask strength whisky (59.8%), really pale non chill filtered. Definitely get a bottle if you can come by one - I had a bottle from cask no. 5, bottle 91 out of a total of 236.

After these the Speyside Singleton went down easily (but then anything would by now). This is a smooth, easy going whisky, less complex than the other two, but very drinkable.

Joining me this evening at Norma Jean's is DrinkedIn's CBO (Haim), but he's drinking this corn juice called Elijah Craig - he's enjoying it - each to their own.

Not sure what I'll have next, but I'll update later (might be late tomorrow morning ...)

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Why DrinkedIn will save the world...

LinkedIn is a perfect example of a high-stress website. There are people on LinkedIn who's entire existence is accumulating contacts (friends, connections, followers, etc). I saw one who claimed that he has > 15,000 contacts. Really - does anyone really know that many people? It's hard enough to know oneself and even have good relationships with a handful of people. Being simply acquainted with a couple of hundred people is really difficult... >15,000? Give me a break...

On the other hand, DrinkedIn (https://drinkedin.net) is all about stress relief. It's about kicking back and saying "the hell with all this networking..." - not that DrinkedIn doesn't have networking features - but the point is not finding the next job or business deal - it's all about finding a good beer or discussing why you like Highland region Scotch over Islay malts (as per my own opinion).

Think of DrinkedIn as LinkedIn's Happy Hour...

So... save the world... invite all your friends to DrinkedIn - not for business dealings, not for job advancement or any other stress related activity. Just for fun and enjoying life.

Haim Barad
CBO of DrinkedIn.net ("Cheif Bartending Officer")

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Go Saints!!!

On the eve of the NFC Championship game, you can see that the city is gearing up for some big-ass bonfire once the Saints are victorious and heading to the Super Bowl.

There's gonna be some drinking on Bourbon St. tonight!!!


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Had a new scotch today - Bruichladdich (pronounced brook laddie)

Don't you just love it when you get to try a new scotch and it's really good. Hasn't happen to me for a while, but after getting my first dram of bruichladdich (14 year old french oak cask non chill filtered 46%)  I can definitely recommend it and will be looking out for it next time I'm in duty free (time to find an excuse for a business trip methinks ...)

I just checked out their website and they've webcams all over the distillery, they've even got the times up as to what happens when. neat - like how I drink my scotch ...


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Research confirms that drinking gives you the same benefits yoga does !!!

Many thanks to a friend who sent me this interesting research.


Position that brings the sensation of peace and calm.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

This position calms the brain and heals tired legs.


Position stimulates the midirift area and the spinal comumn.


Excellent for back pain and insomnia.


Excellent for the shoulder area, thorax, legs, and arms.


Great exercise to stimulate the lumbar area, legs, and arms.

Ananda Balasana

This position is great for massaging the hip area.


This position, for ankles and back muscles.


Tones the body, and builds flexibility and helps get rid of 'stress'. So, let's start drinking ...........( i.e. if not already begun!)

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