The Light & Salt concept that’s sprawled itself all over the sixth floor of the old YWCA building is definitely gunning for that young market segment that sees itself as discerning and hip and likes to chat about typography. Their Library Distillery certainly has a cool factor to it. The bar touts itself as a speakeasy, and on regular nights you will need to call ahead to get the day’s password to gain access to the world behind the sliding one-way mirror.
Inside, the decor is all buttery leather and geometric touches, and the “bar” is a block of black granite with a roulette wheel set in. The layout is a little awkward as it means that the bartender is either positioned far away from customers or has to come out from behind the bar and mix his drinks next to you. The wheel is a useful distraction on slow nights, though, as you can play roulette while chatting with the bar staff--and we hear that if you actually guess the right number you win a special prize. At the opposite end of the room is The Wondullful Archive. It's a blocked off section that's meant to provide bespoke printing services at some point, but right now it's just a cool-looking room with vintage printing machines in it.
The bar's young manager Rick Starr came to China via New York just a few months ago, and he brings a sparkling energy to the place. He took one look at our companion and prescribed the Bull in a China Shop (¥105) that had Coca Cola and cherries in. It was uncanny: Cherry Coke is one of our partner’s favorite things. He also happens to not be a cocktail drinker but really enjoyed this one. We asked for a whisky drink and were given the William Tell (¥105), a delicious apple cocktail that tasted like autumn without playing off of clichéd cider or nutmeg flavors. The drinks that we did try tended to have very similar flavor profiles, but there wasn't really a drinks menu when we dropped by and Starr was just throwing things together for us. It'll be interesting to see how the personality of the place defines itself over time.
OUR RATING: 4/5
Where: 6/F, 133 Yuanmingyuan Lu (near Beijing Dong Lu) 圆明园路133号6楼(近北京东路)
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