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.
For more Kulangsu (Gulangyu) travel ideas, see the new Kulangsu Island Visitor’s Guide.