Article By Brian Cotter
No.1, Nan Guang Ji Jie, Beilin District
( 碑林区南广济街1号 )
The range of bars in Xi’an has come a long way in the three or so years I’ve been here. Gone (thankfully) are the days when the options were limited to “that Belgian place”, “the bar under the hostel”, “the street with the loud bars”, or one or two (admittedly good) music venues. The last couple of years have seen an explosion in “beer shop bars”, some welcome rooftop additions and even Xi’an’s first brewery pub. But Xi’an has still, for me at least, been lacking in eclectic niche options. Which is why I was especially happy to come across what I can only describe as a “whiskey, cocktails, and blues” bar.
Located right downtown, just beside the massive Hong Kong restaurant inside Zhu Que Gate, is J and You. The bar is owned by a very friendly, English-speaking Weinan native by the name of J. Having worked and invented countless cocktails in Beijing for 10 years, J decided to take his talents back to his home province. He opened J and You two months ago with a view to “offer something different” to Xi’an.
First off, the drinks. Our own personal highlights were the “Pink Ice Cream””, the “Terracotta Warrior”, the “Old Fashioned, the “Citrus Cucumber Mule”; in fact just about every cocktail we sampled were the best we’ve had in Xi’an (and beyond). There’s plenty of Single Malts, there’s Japanese whiskeys, there’s Macallan 12 and 18 years, there’s Glenfiddich 12 and 18 years…I could go on.
As well as the quality of the alcohol, there’s the music. Unlike the vast majority of bars and coffee shops in Xi’an that play things safe with dull Western or Chinese acoustic music, in J and You they prefer a dose of the Blues. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Howling Wolf among others all get regular airings. But J also likes a bit of Lounge and Jazz and also holds regular Latin and Raggae nights to keep things mixed.
Drinks and music aside, possibly the thing that I most enjoy about the place is the ambience and the service. The bar just feels “classy” when you enter. More than that, the staff are attentive. They don their waistcoats, they check in on you but not intrusively so. And they definitely know how to mix a drink.
J and You is not the cheapest place in Xi’an, and a drink is probably going to cost you around 40-50 RMB. But for the music, the ambience, the staff, and of course the quality of the drinks, you really have to come here for at least a couple before you amble off elsewhere for the night.