Ogam Tapas bar is an independent Korean bar based in Islington, London. Founded in 2019, this small bar quickly made a name for selling high-quality Korean rice wine and experimental cocktails with a Korean twist. Now it is the go-to stop for many city workers and expats.
We interviewed founder Taeyeol Kim to learn more about how Ogam Tapas Bar came about and how it’s like operating a business in London.
Where did the idea for Ogam Tapas Bar come from?
The idea for Ogam came from Korean traditions. I wanted to recreate the atmosphere and make the customers feel like they were visiting Korea.
So that’s why we are selling traditional Korean spirits and making our own Korean rice wine, Makgeolli.
The interior of the bar is to mimic traditional stone walls and the palace of Korea. We hope that customers feel cosy and comfortable when they come to enjoy our bar.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive and keep yourself busy?
Typically, I will go to the rice wine brewery to make high-quality Makgeolli that everyone can enjoy and is easy to access.
I also experiment with creating new cocktails as well as new food items. This is because Ogam also serves Korean food, and I am also a bar consultant for other London bars.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
I like learning about crafting furniture. I designed the entire bar interior by myself, so this is a personal habit that makes me feel more productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep going with your life. You will eventually be successful and achieve your goal, so just live your busy life and keep going as you do.
What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend being a bartender. Bartending is the only job where you can communicate with various people, and hear their personal stories while making cocktails for them. Working as a bartender, I strongly feel the emotions of joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure from my customers.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The one strategy that has helped grow our business is human resources. During the time we manage Ogam Tapas Bar, I have had so many good employees. They try their best to grow our bar.
Also, it is lucky that we met numerous kind customers. All the times we enjoyed the food and drank together are unforgettable memories.
What's one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?
One trend in the F&B industry that excites me is the alcohol business. The flavour of cocktails is different depending on who makes them. I am excited by this as I can bring some of my cocktail-making techniques to London.
What is the best £20 you recently spent? What and why?
The best £20 I spent recently is on kebabs. When the bar is finished, we eat kebabs altogether and thank our staff for their hard work and effort. By eating together, we get more united and form as one.
What is your favourite quote?
I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.
What are some of your favourite places to eat at?
Sollip, 8 Melior Street, SE1 3QP, London.
What's the best thing to order from Ogam Tapas Bar?
We have a lot of amazing cocktails as well as our Korean fried chicken. We are proud of the flavour of our fried chicken. Also, leegangju is a Korean traditional spirit that we import by ourselves and is an extremely clear spirit. Please visit our bar and enjoy the Korean vibe!
Are there any exciting plans coming from Ogam Tapas Bar soon?
We are planning to launch Makgeolli day every Sunday and Monday. You can enjoy unlimited Makgeolli for only £25.
OGAM TAPAS BAR