Article By Mike Leaner
The Whiskey Library and Modern Cocktail.
153 1992 5262
8:00pm – 2:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 170RMB
PROS: Great drinks and atmosphere
CONS: Location will be tricky for some
Maybe it’s just because I’m American and we’ve done everything in our power to glamorize and deify the Roaring Twenties, but I can’t deny the appeal of a speakeasy-style bar. They’re like that friend you have that, when asked what to do on any given night, will smirk knowingly and say “I know a place.” Xi’an has had a couple such bars, but I don’t think any of them have been quite as good as Cirque.
If you were to just show up, sight unseen, you’d find only what looks like a small, untended TCM store. Move the bookcase, however, and suddenly you’re in a nice, swanky bar. Huge booths line the walls and smaller cocktail tables fill the space in between. On a slow night, it’s a great place to hide in and have a drink; on party nights they can really turn it up to eleven, their head bartender working feverishly to pump up the atmosphere and energy (or convince you to drink out of a meters-long bamboo liquor chute).
But besides his personal charms, how do the head bartender’s offerings fare? Pretty well, actually. You’ll be able to enjoy uncomplicated drinks, you know, those standards you order when you’ve got nothing else on your mind, but the cocktail menu has to be tried. Classic drinks are updated with a couple new twists, like the smoked cinnamon Old Fashioned, and there are more adventurous drinks like baijiu cocktails. Whatever you end up getting, it will be tasty and impeccably presented (one drink we tried came in what was basically a tiny fishbowl). If you’re feeling a bit peckish, they have a late-night restaurant nearby that can provide tasty, devilishly bad bar snacks.
Just celebrating its first anniversary, Cirque Bar has done a good job of hiding its charms down in Qujiang. Now, it’s time for the rest of you to discover this hidden gem.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org