Article By Mike Leaner
No.66 Cien Road, Qujiang New District.
153 8900 9331
8:00pm – Midnight
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 50RMB
PROS: Cold beer, good snacks, excellent and helpful staff, comfortable atmosphere
As I closed in on 21 Days, I starting thinking that the owners must have named the bar after how long it would take a person to get there. Full disclosure, this was a particularly “me” problem, as I live in the west of the city equally far from three subway stations, one of which I had to get to because I needed to go all the way to Chanba District on Metro Line 3 (Guangtaimen Station, specifically), then walk four blocks (during which the sidewalk ended—twice). It was the kind of expedition that Wu Cheng’en used to write about, except eastward instead of westward. When I finally arrived, it wasn’t hard to pick out 21 Days from the humdrum residential businesses that surround it, with its bright neon sign and a big white façade riddled with holes (the holes are intentional, an aesthetic choice). By this point, I was so intensely curious about what was inside that I burst through the doors and found…a bottle shop.
The pros and cons of bottle shops have been litigated over and over again in the pages of this magazine, so we’ll gloss straight over that and talk about what this bar does right, or at least differently. Firstly, when compared to all of the other bottle shops I’ve been to over the years, this one is clearly the product of a greater effort to make a nice bar. The décor is eclectic and clean, with a tight barroom on the first floor and a lounge area, complete with sofas, on the second floor. The second floor, as a side note, would make a great place to watch sports—something of a moot point now that the World Cup has ended, but it was kind of fun to see a stage of the Tour De France while I was there. The other big innovation here is a more self-service-oriented experience. Each table has a QR code on it that will bring you to an e le me-style ordering page, on which you can pay for your beer or order any of the many snacks and dishes they’re offering. This will be a challenge if you aren’t as versed in the Chinese names of beers as I am, but the attentive staff are sure to lend a hand. Lastly, I was served complimentary cucumber spears with a soy sauce and wasabi dipping sauce, which I absolutely adore.
If Chanba is your stomping ground, 21 Days will undoubtedly be a godsend, as it’s easily the best neighborhood bar I’ve seen in my time in Xi’an. But, as with every brick-and-mortar business, it’s all about location, location, location. And honestly speaking, as charming and streamlined and well-staffed as this place is, it’s likely not worth the Journey to the Northeast just to end up at yet another bottle shop.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at