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[Review] The Unicorn Pub: cocktails with a Vietnamese twist

A drinking hole known for its quirky concoctions

Niobe Shaw

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The Unicorn Pub’s ramshackle, fairytale appearance from the outside is a joy, though its somewhat out-of-the-way location can make it easy to miss. Set behind Yen Phu, in an area that is not quite Old Quarter and not quite Truc Bach, it is not an obvious spot for an acclaimed cocktail bar, but it is worth the trip. Whether you are after a stop-off on your bar crawl, a pre-dinner drink or a chilled evening of unique cocktails, you need to check out the Unicorn.

The Unicorn has an extensive range of booze

Hanoi’s bars often offer the same shortlist of cocktails. Disguised with obscure names, they are often poor versions of widely recognized standards. However, the Unicorn is not afraid to go off-piste, with a vast range of everything from classic originals to their own eclectic concoctions. Designed by award-winning mixologist Pham Tien Tiep, the Unicorn has risen to fame thanks to beverages such as its locally-inspired pho cocktail (180,000 VND).

Ah, the pho cocktail. Not just a drink, but a spectacle. The staff will invite you to pull up a seat near the bar so that you can watch a master at work. Flames engulf the alcohol as it trickles from cup to cup whilst customers marvel at the performance. And the best part? This isn’t just a name to pull in the tourists: it is genuinely a delicious drink, complete, of course, with chilies and limes to add your own flavor.

Comfortable chairs abound in the Unicorn Pub

If you have had enough pho, there’s still plenty to choose from, with several other cocktails here created with a nod to Vietnamese culture and landscape: On the Mountain is a personal favorite, whilst the Canh Ca (165,000 VND) uses tomato and pickled mustard, two ingredients used in canh dua, a traditional Vietnamese dish.

Unusual cocktails are a hallmark here

Each cocktail listed comes with a short explainer as, we are told, “every cocktail has a story.” The bar has a casual but fun atmosphere, ambient lighting, walls decked with paintings, and comfy seating. Every Tuesday and Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., the bar hosts quality live music including jazz, blues and classic rock. Alternatively, take advantage of the two-for-one happy hour every evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

The Unicorn has a loyal base of customers, both local and expat, with a fair few young tourists tempted in too. The funky bar is split into three smaller areas slightly varied in decor, providing plenty of space around each table despite the overall size.  A hip destination for a Friday night drink, or the perfect space for a hump-day hangout, the Unicorn Pub has real charm.

2a Hàng Than, Ba Dinh
+84 98 121 07 52
facebook.com/unicornhanoi

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