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We own the night

We own the night

Visiting Guangzhou for the first time, I had no idea what to expect of the Chinese nightlife. I was told Hennessy has a foothold in the country but I wanted to see it with my own eyes. To really dive down into the heart of the Chinese night, I needed a local’s help, and preferably someone aware of the new trends. This is when Kelvin Wood comes into play. Kelvin is a bartender and award-winning cocktail master. He grew up in Guangzhou and knows the city like the back of his hand. “I will make you see Guangzhou”, he said the night we met. “Just follow me.”

Part One starts at 10pm and takes place in Zhujiang Party Pier, a location blending the charm of the Peal River with modern architecture (it’s actually built next to an old brewery). Zhujiang Party Pier offers a mix of everything: from Italian restaurants to German pubs and shisha bars. But except from the view on the Pearl River, it didn’t seem very authentic to me. I gave Kelvin a perplexed look. He smiled back and called a taxi: “I was keeping the best part for later but let’s skip a few episodes and go straight to the point.”

Part Two occurs around midnight. It takes place in “Song’s bar”, located in Xingsheng Road, a fairly new venue that opened in the last five years. I was charmed by Song’s bar at first sight. Tucked away from the main street, it can’t be found unless you know it. And it’s mainly frequented by locals. Kelvin introduced me to his friend and bartender Saxo who makes delicious Hennessy cocktails that cheered up our evening. “Guangzhou is a place that has a lot to offer”, Saxo told me. “While bars in Shanghai close at 2am, here we party till morning. Guangzhou is becoming the place to be to have fun in China. If you don’t believe me, you should try our clubs!”

Part Three kicks off just after 2am and takes place at “Face”, a high-standard nightclub in Yuexiu area and definitely the meeting place of Hennessy lovers, judging from the VSOP and XO on every table. Chinese have a unique way to drink cognac. They take it in shots and accompany their drink with fresh fruits and water. A new experience for me! Kelvin’s friends later joined our table. Around 4 am, our stomachs started to gurgle so we moved to a restaurant for an early morning feast. “It’s the after-party kind of place Chinese like to end up”, explained Kelvin. “And it’s where you find the best Cantonese food!”
Back to my hotel and flipping through the images of this night cruising in Guangzhou, I fell asleep with the conviction that Hennessy definitely owns the night in China!