Reception Bar owner Katie Rue brings her Korean American background to her Orchard Street soju bar, where she experiments with Korean ingredients and spirits to tell a story on what it means to be Asian American. What started as a family-style, multi-course dinner series at Rue’s apartment turned into a community-based bar that hopes to recreate some of the interpersonal connections between patrons that were so central to the dinner series. “When people start to drink a little, they loosen up, and they start opening up,” Rue said. “So even having our bar at the center of our indoor space, and giving it a curved shape, encourages people to talk to each other and to the bartender to understand the story behind the drinks they are experiencing.”
The cocktails are made of Korean spirits such as soju and makgeolli, which is a milky, slightly fizzy Korean rice wine, and incorporate fresh traditionally Asian ingredients like chrysanthemum and osmanthus. I particularly like the Cereal Milk and Melon Dew drinks, which are both makgeolli-based and reminiscent of my childhood. The Cereal Milk is made with walnut milk, rice orgeat, jujube honey, and chocolate walnut bitters and reminds me of the milk leftover from a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, whereas the Delon dew keeps it simple with honeydew and honey and tastes like a crossover between a Melona bar and a cucumber agua fresca.