Now that Taipei has arrived as a top-ten-Asian-cities caliber destination, with a justifiable rep for hard partying, the ever increasing number of upscale lounges in Xinyi can’t really be called surprising. Of course, some clubs stand out: LUXY leads the way for up-all-night dance sessions. But some nights, what’s called for is a well-stocked bar, fascinating bartenders, skilled mixologists and bar food. Whether it’s an Irish pub you want, a live jazz venue, alfresco bar, or swanky spot where you can celebrity spot, we’ve got you covered.
Frequented by Taipei’s estimable glitterati, and increasing number of apparently dedicated socialites, Marquee is a lavish cocktail lounge and restaurant that’s also surprisingly spacious. Everything’s royal purple, with Victorian-inspired flourishes. Peckish? Hit the western menu. Pizzas, pastas and chicken wings are all available and tasty. The main draw at Marquee remains the long bar, which offers you some of the best (award-winning) bartenders in Taipei- to say nothing of the premium liquors.
Where: No. 16-1, Section 5, Xinyi Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei
That’s one word- no space. If atmospheric outdoor seating gets you going then InHouse has plenty to spare. Don’t worry about privacy, because the beautifully lit alfresco space is surprisingly exclusive. We’re talking about long gray couches framed by low-cut hedges, all in the shadow of Taipei 101. There’s a standing bar inside, and it’s usually packed. Expect quality techno pumping out of InHouse’s solid sound system on weekends, and decidedly chiller music on weekdays.
Where: No. 90, SongRen Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei
In the same building occupied by the aforementioned InHouse (that’s Neo19), you’re just a few floors away from the upscale Barcode, said to be one of the poshest bars in this hood, if not in Taipei. You heard us: come in your best threads. Both the balcony and indoor area host their own bars, and this is where you can always catch a celebrity or two in their VIP area: The Den- but good luck getting in. The London-trained bartenders know what they’re doing, mixing up unique champagne-based cocktails. And the kitchen isn’t far behind. Quality bites, like their popular pan-fried mushrooms and squid bacon rolls, are dependably tasty and dependably stylish (if you’re into that). Throw a pool table into the mix, along with stunning city views, and you’ve got yourself one swanky hotspot.
Where: 5F,No. 22, SongShou Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei
What we love most about Carnegie’s are not just their acclaimed steaks and recurring outdoor barbecues, but the fact that you can really let your hair down here. It’s these dependable, mellowed out vibes that make Carnegie’s one of the best western bars in the city. Don’t be surprised by the patrons dancing on the bar- it’s kind of a signature touch here. The Irish-pub ambiance and rock-n-roll décor is popular with the expatriate community, and if pubs came with resident DJs- that would look like Carnegie’s. They’ve got 350 shooters on the menu (really) so get busy.
Where: No. 100, Section 2, Ānhé Rd, Daan District, Taipei
Well-known for smooth jazz, but Brown Sugar’s rocking something like New Orleans theme. It’s the place to be for jazz heads, but on certain nights you can get down to some sultry salsa music as well. Their wine list is also impressive, and goes deeper than Taipei bars are obliged to. As for food, Brown Sugar’s menu is upscale Italian and commendably executed.
Where: No. 101, SōngrénRd, Xinyi District, Taipei
The Brass Monkey is an Antipodean-style sports bar that really does boast something for everyone. They’ve got great screens and sound, and are thusly packed for any major sporting event (you can check out the World Cup pics on their website), and that’s always a plus.
Brass Monkey is also your spot for fallback plans on New Year’s Eve, Halloween, Saint Patrick’s Day, etc. There are also Ladies Nights, remarkable even among Ladies Nights, and a Taipei institution for some time now. Great music, free drinks and cheap shots- everyone wins.
Other nights include Salsa Tuesdays and Pub Quizzes on Wednesdays. The rest of the week this is a great spot for some relaxed beers and conversation- even a meal.
Where: 1st Floor Vieshow Centre, 20 Songshou Rd Taipei, Taiwan 110
Playing Lounge Bar is widely considered the best spot in Taiwan for Shisha, Hookahs, Belly Dance and related accouterments. Food and cocktails are also primo. They’ve always got an events lineup, and that’s worth checking out on their website. Playing is definitely a spot where people looking for something different can come together and soak in the vibes.
Where: 1F., No.133-2, Sec. 1, Keelung Rd., Xinyi Dist, Taipei
Beer & Cheese hooks it up with over 80 imported craft beers. If you’re into beer, this is a must. Come see what everybody is talking about. The owners, Shawn and Tristan, are friendly and are happy to give suggestions for any palate. Right now Beer & Cheese is also pairing a curated selection of artisanal cheeses with their beers, so get in there.
Where: No. 169, Section 2, Jiànguó South Rd, Daan District, Taipei City