This indoor-outdoor café-bar in Jing’s childhood neighborhood had been around for more than eight years when we first stumbled across it. The shaded hipster garden is a work of outsider art. Hanging lanterns, spinning pinwheels, bric-a-brac, and eclectic music give the place a French-Corner-of-Kulangsu feel. Drinks are expensive, but there’s a full range of designer whiskies and Goose Island IPA. There’s cool vintage jewelry and home-made souvenirs at reasonable prices at the shop in the garden, where the young geniuses who run the establishment also live.
One of the most gracious properties on the island, overlooking gardens and the sea beyond, houses the Miryam, which is advertised as “boutique” but feels more like a grand dame clinging to the cliffs of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
The Continental feel extends to the furnishing of the clean, airy, well-lit rooms, some with claw-foot tubs. Ask for a room with a sea view—the generous private balconies and their bucolic vistas are worth the upcharge.
Prices are above average for Kulangsu but reasonable given the views upscale feel. The restaurant’s availability and hours are unpredictable, so don’t plan around meals here. The staff runs a tight ship and can be curt to non-hotel guests (not allowing them to enter the upper balconies, lobbies, and other public areas of the hotel) , but the rewards of being a guest are considerable.
In New York, it was Milk & Honey. In Houston, it was Anvil. On Kulangsu, the next-generation cocktail culture has been shaped by a genuine, hard-working man named Gino, an island native who (in addition to being a star attacker for a semi-pro soccer team) has raised the local mixology bar forever.
Gino is about as serious about his drinks as anyone on the planet, but the decor in his dim speakeasy-style haunt is playful, too–especially the upstairs, whose darts, bric-a-brac furniture, and wainscoting give the place the look of a 1970s rec room repurposed by Brooklyn hipsters.
Thankfully, Gino’s no hipster–he’s a Kulangsu native, which is pretty much the opposite–but he does speak some English, and more importantly, he’s fluent in the international language of alcohol: just name your base spirit and leave the rest to the artist. Tricked-out cocktails aren’t cheap, but the labor and material costs are extraordinary, whether it’s dry ice, smoking wood shrubs, obscure spirits practically unavailable in China, or a Ramos Gin Fizz that needs to be shaken for a full five minutes.
Gino’s thoughtful and futuristic glassings and glass-platings are as unpredictable as his late-night hours. Come ready to be surprised, whether it’s by a perfectly spherical ice cube the size of a baseball or a steaming bowl of pork-bone broth just when you need it most.