Taipei may not be at the top of the list of destinations for travelers seeking unique drinks, but the city boasts an impressive array of innovative cocktails and cocktail bars that cater to locals and tourists.
Here is our list of where to get some of the best cocktails in Taipei, but this list is not definitive as there are more establishments that cater to the city’s cocktail lovers as well as new ones opening up.
R&D Cocktail Lab
One of the first names people hear when discussing cocktails in Taipei is R&D–a French-Taiwanese fusion of craft cocktails that has grown from a small establishment into a larger space that attracts large crowds on the weekends.
The decor at R&D is reminiscent of a traditional Chinese medicine shop with a touch of modernity.
The bar infuses its own spirits to offer an even greater variety of cocktails. They even have a Sichuan pepper-infused vodka for spicy cocktails.
R&D Cocktail Lab doesn’t take reservations and is regularly crowded after 9 pm, but they do have a small standing bar for those waiting for a seat at the main bar or a table. Smaller groups may be asked to change tables during the evening to better manage the crowd.
Cocktails on tap are NT$350, with other drinks ranging from NT$350 to NT$450 each. there is also a 10% service fee added to the bill.
Address: No. 36, Jiaxing St. (map)
The real speakeasy in Taipei is Ounce–there is no sign indicating where the bar is as it’s hidden behind a secret door inside a cafe. Customers need to know where the door is and where the bell on the wall is to ring in. Even after ringing the bell, customers will need to wait, particularly if there’s a crowd already there.
The signature cocktail at Ounce is Third Day in Taipei, which is a blend of two heavily peated whiskies finished off with charred longan, the smoke from which is transferred to the glass. The process is fun to watch, but the drink is intended for those who enjoy very smoky whiskey. Much like R&D and Old 98, Ounce serves a wide variety of cocktails that use fresh fruit and herbs, with some cocktails being seasonal.
For customers who have to wait for a seat, the cafe serves beer. Much like R&D, Ounce gets crowded as the evening progresses, so it’s advised that imbibers arrive earlier to ensure a seat.
Address: No. 40, Lane 63, Section 2, Dunhua South Rd. (map)
Old 98 x Swagger
Let mixologist Wade prepare a cocktail for you at this small bar that is more popular with locals than with expats. There is no drink menu, so you’ll have to tell the bartender what you’d like. Depending on the season, there may be some special cocktails, such as fresh pumpkin-based drinks for Halloween. Wade likes to specialize in tea cocktails, if that is something you’d like to try.
If you’d prefer a beer, the bar has a few craft beers to choose from.
Because the bar is small, you may have to either wait to get a seat or return another time. It’s best to arrive before 9 pm to get a seat.
Address: No. 134, Section 2, Jinshan South Rd. (map)
The unassuming dive atmosphere attracts a quieter crowd to Prozac Balcony near Technology Building MRT Station looking for more than just a beer. This relatively small bar offers a selection of classic and unique cocktails on its menu (something that other cocktail bars lack). The style is closer to that of a dive bar, which many patrons may find more inviting.
While R&D and Ounce offer some light fare, Prozac Balcony has more filling dining options for anyone who wants to enjoy dinner with their drinks.
At NT$300-350 for a cocktail, Prozac Balcony is the most affordable bar in which to enjoy a cocktail in Taipei.
Address: No. 309, Section 2, Fuxing South Rd. (map)
M.O. (Mandarin Oriental)
The bar on the fifth floor of the Mandarin Oriental Taipei is inspired by 1920s Art Deco design. This is a classier bar and management asks that patrons dress appropriately. As it is in a five-star hotel, M.O. is more open than its competitors, with booths and tables as well as seats at the bar. It is less likely that customers would have to wait for a seat at this bar.
The bar has a cocktail menu that includes its signature drinks, but bartenders will also offer suggestions for craft cocktails that aren’t on the menu.
M.O. offers guests of the hotel a discount on all drinks, which makes the cocktails a bit more affordable. There are happy hour deals Sunday to Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm.
Address: No. 158 Dunhua North Rd. (map)