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Many years ago, before the start of time, a bar called Q Bar was opened in the basement of the Opera House.

Except for a short period around the millennium, it operated for 20 years and became one of the go-to nightlife spots in Saigon. Then in 2012 the premises were ‘repurposed’ and Q Bar closed down.

 

But contrary to popular belief, Q Bar never disappeared. It just moved. 1,000km.

The year before, the owners had opened a sister watering hole in the centre of Hoi An. And with the people behind the scenes searching for new premises — not too hard, dare we say it — the mantle was taken up by Q Bar Hoi An. Until now.

 

The latest incarnation of Q Bar returned to this city on New Year’s Eve. Not only is it fuelling party-goers in Thao Dien with a long sought-after outlet for their night-time creativity, but it also provides a link with the past. Only a handful of bars have survived the Saigon-spiced, pressure cooker changes of time. Think Apo, O’Brien’s, Blue Gecko and Ice Blue. Q Bar is one of them.

 

Did You Say Location?

 

What makes the latest materialisation of Q Bar so clever is its location. Situated on a back road in Thao Dien opposite French restaurant La Villa, it’s just off the main drag. Walking-wise that means a two-minute reroute from nearby Xuan Thuy. If you’re driving or travelling by Uber (sorry, Grab), the difference is trivial. But it’s enough to give this bar a sense of standing apart from the crowd. And that it certainly does.

 

Arrive and the first stand-out feature is the entrance. A grey concrete wall with cacti at its base and a grey, vault-like door sporting simply the letter ‘Q’. If going inside means entering a Gringotts-style hidden world of treasure-filled chambers, goblins and dragons, then think again. That was Q Bar in the Opera House. Well, kind of. The latest version involves a smoking terrace out front, a main, high-ceilinged room by the bar, and a balcony area up above.

 

Doused in grey and with table tops and a bar surface wrought out of white marble, colour here is provided by features like the bar area itself, which is lit up by a huge lightbox, and the deep blue sofa seating on the right-hand side. Beyond that, from the scrunched-tissue chandelier above through to the Quasar Khanh-designed chairs, everything is grey, silver and black. Except that is for the dash of neon purple lighting up the stairwell to the balcony area above.

 

Drink Up, Johnny

Naturally any bar worth its name should be serving up decent drinks, and here, unless you go for a premium spirit, all the cocktails cost VND180,000. A selection of martinis heads up the drinks list with passion fruit, lychee, chocolate and even a French version of the classic cocktail available to quench your thirst. Also on the drinks list is a selection of mojitos, the likes of Long Island iced tea, negroni and Manhattan. The Q Bar special cocktails include the chilli tequila sour, the high tea G&T and the galangal-infused Q’tini.

The full range of spirits are available, from house pours (VND150,000) through to premium whiskys like the Macallan 18-year (VND500,000). Heineken and Tiger cost VND70,000 a go, and the wine list is deliberately well-priced, with bottles of white and rosé starting at VND700,000.

 

Saigon is a hedonistic city, one whose residents constantly seek out pleasure. I’ve been lucky (or unlucky) enough to spend a few nights burning late-night candles at Q Bar. And I can tell you, if you ever want to indulge and unwind in a classy atmosphere with excellent drinks, this is the place to go.

 

Q Bar is located at 9A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, HCMC.


 

Photos by nam nguyen

 

Nick Ross

Chief editor and co-founder of Word Vietnam, Nick Ross was born in the humble city of London before moving to the less humble climes of Vietnam. His wanderings have taken him to definitely not enough corners of the globe, but being a constant optimist, he still has hopes.

Website: twitter.com/nickrossvietnam

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