Article By Mike Leaner
I’ve always been one for dive bars. I love cheap drinks and the pinball-esque madness of meeting and greeting other patrons as each successive drink dulls their inhibitions. If I had to guess, I would say that puts me in the majority of Xi’an expats; I know what I like, and I know how cheaply I can get it, so anywhere that could be considered a bit pricey has to make a case for the extra RMB it wants to take from me.
Take Five, a new place just around the corner from Zhuque Gate, more than makes its case from the moment you walk in. Simply put, there’s just no place like it in the city. It evokes the bygone Gilded Age, with a solid bar manned by a well dressed bartender and a backroom full of leather furniture and a (fake but always roaring) fireplace. If you’re sick of feeling like an English teacher and would rather feel like you’ve been dropped into a classy backroom from Boardwalk Empire, this is the place to go. Even with the abundance of old school glamour, all the liquor bottles stacked up behind the bar are proof positive that you can still get your drink on.
That drink will likely be in the form of a cocktail, as Take Five’s drink list is among the most expansive in the city. Normally I would start with an Old Fashioned and then work my way around the menu, but with the dozens of drinks on offer I was spoiled for choice—so spoiled, in fact, that I literally couldn’t pick. I eventually accepted defeat and asked for a recommendation, which came in the form of the gin-based Singapore Sling.
Most cocktails are around 50-60RMB a glass, which felt worth the money but it was disappointing all the same because it limited how much experimenting I was willing to do. Even so, I wouldn’t have made a dent. I could go back every day for a different cocktail and probably not make it to the back cover of the menu for at least a month. If variety is the spice of life, this place is spicy as can be.
Sticker shock may keep penny pinchers away, but I wouldn’t say that Take Five is a place you’re going to go to for a full-on, five-or-six-drinks-at-least rager. This is the anti-dive. This is a place to, as the name implies, take a break, melt into one of their armchairs, have a slow, pensive drink, and pretend that you’re the high-class captain of industry you wish you could be, if only until that sad moment when you reach the bottom of your glass.
Add：No.18,Tai Yang Miao Men Street 太阳庙门街道18号
Open Hours：7:00pm – 3:00am