The guys from Salud have headed west to give Wudaokou’s students a taste of Nanluogu Xiang, but they’ve missed the mark in their Marketing 101 lesson: location, location, location. They’re now managing Red Oak Café, which is located on the second floor of an unfrequented strip mall far from the heart of the bar scene.
We had the place to ourselves throughout a pretty sad happy hour, but its subdued and unpretentious vibe offered a welcomed respite from its rowdy neighbors La Bamba and Propaganda. Instead of future engineers and doctors dancing shirtless on the bar, we had a cozy spot to cram for finals next to the fireplace and a Teddy bear collection.
The ten vats of house-infused Havana Club crowning the bar remind us that we are in a Salud. The sweet and zesty flavors spanning orange and clove, jujube, and pineapple paired amiably with the aged rum. All can be sampled in large shooter glasses that go for RMB 20 a shot, but big groups can order the full spectrum of rum, the One Meter of Happiness (RMB 180), for good measure.
Red Oak is attempting to draw an after-hours crowd by waking up the bar with an injection of downright philanthropic daily specials, but for now, it remains a place to get a cheap burger (RMB 38) before heading off to somewhere better attended.
This review first appeared in our March 2014 issue.
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