Hanko 60

We were halfway through our second round of drinks when Albert, bless his heart, asked where they showed the movies and I realized the entire premise of the speakeasy had been lost on him.

I’d assumed the Tripadvisor stickers by the door, or my announcement from a couple hours prior that we were checking out a new bar, would be indication enough, but Albert, being Albert, had taken the facade masquerading as a ticketing booth at face value. To be fair, there was an upstairs area, cordoned off when we visited, where a film could conceivably be shown. And just down the block was a street famous for its battery of cinemas.

Incidentally, too, life of late had seemed like a movie, monumental characters thrust suddenly into view and pulled out of it just as abruptly. For ten months I had watched an improbable screenplay of plot twists and clichés unfold: liaisons, double lives, all the maudlin trappings of a romantic drama. Its unwitting protagonist? Myself.

I saw La La Land last week and was reminded of how often life imitates art, or how we choose to frame it so that it does. We may not prance through life in song-and-dance routines, but we can reconstruct it in our imaginations as something penned by Sondheim.

It was Tuesday night, well after work, when Albert asked me where the movies were shown. He sat beside me, munching on the popcorn his drink came with and watching me bicker with our other friend. We were the only ones in the bar. If I had to answer him now, I would say that the movie was there, right in front of him, where it always would be, the little dramas of life clicking away on an infinite reel.

Located just beyond the main tourist drags in Ximending, Hanko 60 is one of the most recent speakeasies to appear in Taipei. The design, from the ticketing-booth entrance to the retro neon sign above the bar, makes reference to Hanko 60’s proximity to a street of cinemas that came to prominence in the 1930’s and 40’s. Drinks—such as “Mango Sago Pomelo,” scooped from a miniature bathtub, or “Dream of the Red Chamber,” served in a tea set—are high on theatrics, but the quality makes the gimmicks forgivable.

No. 60, Section 2, Hankou St,, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Mon-Thu: 20:00-02:00, Fri-Sat: 20:00-03:00, Sun: 20:00-02:00
02 2381 0808
Around 800 TWD per person

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