It's Your Cup of Tea: A US66 Cocktail

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It's Your Cup of Tea: A US66 Cocktail

After a day's work full of stress, traffic and the currently bad weather in Seoul, you need a drink. Whether it's a slow Tuesday evening or a happening Friday night, you deserve a good round of drinks, however short, to help you wind down and get away from it all. But most of the time that you want to chill out at the bar, you end up with one of those diluted alcoholic beverages which leaves you completely unsatisfied and more frustrated than when you walked in. You certainly don't want to pay a humongous bill that will empty your wallet for the rest of the month either. So where can you go to have a nice drink at the right price in an atmosphere where you and your friends can relax?

US66 (also known as Route 66 after the massive highway that stretches from Chicago to L.A.) in the Hongdae area (near Hongik University) has exactly the right ingredients for a good time. This ihWestern-styleln bar first opened in 1995 during Korea's economic high time, and the 1950s retro interior is part of a decoration fad popular at that period. The concept was to recreate an atmosphere reminiscent of America™s Midwest by incorporating motifs and ™50s memorabilia commonly found in flea markets, such as popular beverage emblems, movie posters and old license plates. Many a trendy bar in Korea disappeared after the economic fall of the late 90s, but this one survived and is still going strong.

The thing that catches your eye on entering the bar is the choice layout. Spacious yet homey, this two-floor bar is so unlike most of the surrounding estab- lishments in that you can actually walk around without jarring your head on the doorway or ceiling, and not bump into some unnecessary clutter. Although it's the biggest bar in the area, don™t be sur- prised at having a hard time getting a seat on weekends - during peak hours this place is packed.

Walking into US66, you're wel- comed by a thundering greeting in Korean ioEoseo oseyo!lg (Come on in!) from the bartender nearest the door. That™s the house bartender Lee Chul- won, who has been making fabulous drinks ever since US66 opened. He is now joined by two more staff members: Park Jang-beum and Kim Ji-hye, both trained by him. One of the things bartenders at US66 do right is to make sure customers feel at home. You can hear Mr. Lee's greeting over infectious tunes ranging from Queen and Nirvana to Dr. Dre and Lou Bega. The other thing they do right is make the best Long Island Ice Tea in town.

A Long Island Ice Tea is an extremely strong concoction containing several shots of spirits. The so-called ieLong Tealn served at US66 is made from vodka, gin, rum, Triple Sec, Sweet and Sour mix and cola, topped with a slice of lemon. Elsewhere in Seoul, the major ingredients of a Long Island are ice cubes, lemon juice and cola. Here at US66, your eyes will widen (or perhaps wince) in appreciation of the bartender's generosity. The tall, fat 14-ounce tum- bler is filled almost to the rim with 8 ounces of combined alcohol.

Long-time patrons of US66 get special treatment as their ihLong Teaslg come with a splash of sweet and mellow Amaretto (non-regulars can always ask nicely for this, though). If you™re planning to jumpstart the evening with one or two of these, be sure to stock up on Alka Seltzer at home for your guaranteed hangover.

Other popular drinks include a flaming cocktail called the Australia. Made from Peach Tree, Triple Sec, Bacardi rum, Drambuie and Cointreau, the cocktail tastes like a smooth cognac. Female customers™ favorites include the June Bug (a mixture of melon and banana liqueur, Malibu, Sweet and Sour mix and pineapple juice) and the Strawberry (made from strawberry liqueur cream, lime juice, Sweet and Sour mix, pineapple and cranberry juice). While their girlfriends prefer the sweet and delicious varieties, guys kick back with the strong stuff, like a Black Russian (vod- ka and Kahlua) or the TMF. A TMF is a super-intoxicating alcoholic experience and an upgraded version of the Long Island Ice Tea complete with an added shot of Jim Beam.

All this for how much? Regular cocktails go for 6,000 ($5) to 7,000 won, and special ones, including flaming cocktails, are 10,000 won. US66 is located near Geukdong Bangsongguk (Far East Broadcasting Co., Korea) and is open weekdays from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m. For more information, call 02-324-5388~9 (in Korean only).

by Ines Cho

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