Of all the Gin Joints: JiuGuan

Admittedly, most of the bars I often visit are selected for their Western vibe, so when I was told about a suave new Chinese style cocktail bar near DG Mall, I arranged to visit with some locals to get their take on the place. The fact that the bar’s name “JiuGuan” has taken the “Dong” from Dongguan and replaced it with the character for “alcohol,” sets the stage for a place clearly aiming to be the coolest around.

A combination of modern and vintage styles is observed upon entry as neon lights complement traditional wood lattices adorning the ceiling. Even the drink menus look like something from the end of the Qing Dynasty some 100 years ago. Fortunately, the menus do feature English translations inside, albeit quite literal and a little obscure in places, but conveniently, the cheery young waiter who served me spoke fluent English and was happy to help.

I was surprised by the selection and deliberated for a while with my Chinese colleagues on the options. The one lady I was with works in a custom-made Chinese qipao dress shop, so I asked her to help me choose a cocktail that she thought best represented traditional Chinese culture. The two we chose were “Black Pearl” and “Longevity Road at Dusk.” I have had some fancy cocktails in my time, but the sheer elaborate nature of the way these drinks were presented was truly next level. True to its name the Black Pearl was served in an ornate hexagonal glass jewelry box complete with pearls inside. It also had an interesting silver stirrer which doubled as a straw, something I had never seen before. The Longevity Road was garnished with crushed Osmanthus petals and served delicately in a traditional Chinese teacup, displayed with a concertina fan. Both were gin-based with elements of peach and coffee present.

The tastes were quite bizarre and if I had to use one word to describe them it would be “funky.” They were enjoyable, but more of a pleasant novelty than something one would repeatedly drink. We ended the night with more mainstream choices and had a quick chat with the owner. She mentioned that the place had been open since the end of last year and that their main objective was to bring a touch of flair that other cocktail bars in the area don’t have.

This hangout felt to me like one of those groovy little spots one would find in Hong Kong or Shanghai and well worth visiting if you feel like something a bit classier than the status quo. Bottoms up!

Address: No. 45, Tian Jiao Yu Feng, Dongcheng