I had a few free hours in Yantai last Thursday night so I did a walkabout on Chaoyang Street which is a) close to the hotel, b) close to the waterfront, c) in the old part of the city, and d) home to the most bars. Indeed I did find a few decent places to grab a drink.
Druid’s: This is an Irish bar with an Austrian owner named Mike. I liked the long snaking bar (made of three thick pieces of beech, he says), the sloped ceiling that leaves the more than a century old beams exposed, the pool table and dartboard, and the draft Guinness, Kilkenny, and Strongbow. Add a friendly staff, a cubby hole with a selection of books, and decent toilets, and this is a solid spot that rivals the Irish bars in Beijing. I had a pint of Guinness (RMB60).
Captain Musical Bar: This place is across the street and has an elaborate mural on its outside wall (see photo below). It made me think of pirates. Anyway, I found it fairly full but given I was in a contemplative mood I moved on to…
Havana: Apparently Druids owner Mike opened this space in 2001, then sold it and left Yantai, before returning several years ago. Anyway, the place is now owned by Daniel, who said he has been manning the bar for four years. This has a kind of local bar feel and I had a Tiger beer (RMB20) while getting the lowdown on Yantai from Daniel and his trustworthy assistant Rita.
Eleven: Daniel told me this place is considered to have some of the city’s best cocktails and even walked me there since it is hard to find for newcomers. Eleven is run by Kent, named after his girlfriend, and has a half-dozen seats at the bar — slightly bigger than the former Tryst in Beijing. Kent told me he has worked in several Shanghai bars. He did a decent job on my Alfonso Special, though he had not heard of the drink, and on the Perfect Manhattan he recommended, and I was tempted to order a Dark and Stormy as he had Gosling’s rum. He said the Mojito is among his better drinks but he didn’t have all of the ingredients on this night. He also showed me some of his books and explained he is a fan of Ferran Adria of Spain’s El Bulli restaurant. The two drinks came to RMB60.
I had also hoped to visit a place called Alibaba, based on a recommendation from @riceagain on Twitter, but it turned out to be too far away. In any case, I enjoyed my short visit to Yantai and hope to be back again. I’ll be posting about some of the vineyards I visited on sibling blog Grape Wall of China.