Barbara Adam discovers some medicinal delights in a converted warehouse in District 1, at ChinChin Bar. Photos by Angeli Castillo.
ChinChin Bar is the latest venture for Quan Bui Group founder Tran Danh, who now operates four Quan Bui Vietnamese restaurants.
It’s another of the city’s wonderful “hidden” bars. The short journey along a corridor and up a dimly-lit staircase transports you to a world that seems far far away from the bustle of the Bitexco shopping and office scene outside.
The atmospheric bar is one of five businesses sharing a converted colonial-era warehouse that has been, over time, a bank, a medicine shop and a fabric warehouse. In its latest incarnation, this part of the building has retained the original wooden ceiling and brick walls, features that are complemented by the colonial-style fittings and furnishings.
The medicine shop theme continues with giant jars of medicinal substances above the bar and dispensary-like wooden drawers underneath.
The menu also stays on-message, with medicially-named cocktails as well as a range of spirits, bubbles and wines, available by the glass or by the bottle.The food menu is brief, and will change regularly. At present there is a selection of sharing plates and bar snacks, including a cold cut plate (VND149,000), a cheese plate (VND149,000) and nachos with cheese (VND119,000). The focus here, though, is on the cocktails, and the AsiaLIFE team sampled an amazing array, all with different appeal.
The Smoky Potion (VND160,000) was a strong tobacco-flavoured elixir that would appeal to smokers (and former smokers), especially those who love scotch. It’s a blend of 12-year-old scotch, Islay whisky, tobacco syrup, red vermouth, cranberry juice and bitters. The drink is smoked, which adds a touch of mystery to the scotch.
Nuts Medication (VND180,000) was a creamy coconutty concoction of rum, coconut ice cream, Absynthe, green tea umesho, coconut syrup and bitters. The sweetness of the icecream is nicely balanced by the tannin of the tea.
Doctor Advise (VND160,000) is how the most delicious herbal medicine you could think of would taste. It contains shiso leaf-infused gin, mint, ginger, honey, lemon juice and Amaretto.
The most refreshing cocktails were the sangria-like Saigon Time (VND190,000) and the Lady Pink (VND180,000), a blend of gin, strawberry jam, creme de cassis, orange juice and prosecco. The second option, served in a champagne flute garnished with a rose petal, was light and bubbly but not too sweet. During happy hour from 5pm to 8pm every day, cocktails are 50% off, wine by the glass is 30% off and all bottles are discounted by 20%.
For those who barhop with an entourage, jugs of classic cocktails, such as cosmopolitan, pina colada and whisky sour, are available for VND890,000.