Article By Mike Leaner
1F, Greenland Central Plaza Building 8
(029) 8102 6118
6:00pm – 2:00am
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 100-150RMB
PROS: Great drinks; more atmosphere in this bar than there is over Antarctica; good service; great music; Pac-Man mosaic behind the bar
CONS: Going to Jinye Road can be a haul for many; bar snacks only but that’s, like, totally fine
AKazakh woman once told me something that has stuck with me ever since: “Compliments are lies.” A bit hyperbolic, sure, but it’s something always in the back of my mind when I review things. In the review game, people find you more credible if you criticize; when you compliment a place, people can find you credible as well—but only if they agree with you. Thus, the biggest risk you can take as a critic is to like something. So, that being said: God help me, I really, really like Vinylhouse. Let me take you through my thought process, so that you can check the mental calculus I did to arrive at the conclusion that I liked Vinylhouse.
So, usually I go on these reviews to shiny new bars with disinterested staff and perfectly fine offerings that do nothing to elevate them above “average,” unless you count their above-average prices. They’ll have names like “Jazz Bar” and then not actually have any jazz (not to be confused with the currently open Meeting Jazz, which is a good bar and most definitely will shoot a big load of jazz all over your face). I will agonize over pretty words to write the article with, and then never go back again.
I will be going back to Vinylhouse, for damn sure. Putting it through the aforementioned formula, Vinylhouse’s staff are attentive and friendly. The drink menu is whiskey-heavy, but there are a lot of delicious cocktails available as well. They make a great drink, if my whiskey sour and Moscow Mule are any indication, and the drinks come out quickly. Here’s the kicker though: there is vinyl at Vinylhouse. DJs-in-residence spin nightly, and not just overblown house music; the night I visited, the DJ was playing a mega mix of old school hip-hop, funk and afrobeat (and it was not ear-bleedingly loud!). Next to the DJ booth is, I kid you not, a cabinet of vinyl records for sale. I won’t tell you what was there, because I don’t want you swooping in and sniping my cool vinyl record finds before I get my money right, but there are some really great and surprising records in their stock—if you’re a collector there’s definitely something to round out your collection with. On top of that, they’re eager to make a splash in the Xi’an scene; with innovative party ideas like a “silent disco” (everyone wears headphones and gets the DJs’ sets pumped directly into their headsets), they just might. Prices aren’t exactly cheap, but I would happily pay those prices just to be able to hang out there.
Here’s the verdict: Vinylhouse is great. It has just about everything I want in a hangout, and then some. Every new bar in this town thinks they’ve successfully reinvented the wheel, but Vinylhouse is actually doing something a little different, and succeeding at it, which is so refreshing. Location might be a deal-breaker for some, and I get that, but Vinylhouse is a destination, not an also-ran. My rejoinder to that complaint would be that you quit being a shabby laowai that’s always trolling around the same-old South Gate dives like you’re the coolest foreigner in town (I am the coolest foreigner in town, and don’t you forget it) and go to a bar that’s actually cool. If you don’t agree, then stay at Park Qin. More Vinylhouse for me.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org