China Daily reports that Louisiana-themed The Big Easy will be chai’d on Sunday. Chaoyang Park authorities voided the bar’s 13-year lease, signed in 1998, in order to make space for a “peace plaza,” although they didn’t reveal whether this will be a government or commercial venture, states the newspaper. The creative layout, spirited music and Bloody Marys of The Big Easy will be missed. / Before losing its trio of capable bartenders earlier this year, Midnight packed in partiers and pumped out 50-kuai cocktails. Now, a signboard out front advertises 10-kuai drinks, including — and some might prefer this one with two paramedics, stomach pump and stretcher – Gin and Coke. / Browns, bursting at the seams last Saturday night, smartly anchored an ice-filled claw-footed bathtub of bottled beer just inside the door and thus siphoned off some of the thirsty patrons teeming at the bar. (Suggestion: Sell bottled water from the tub, too.) / Berber N, home of tasty kebabs before construction forced its closure on Sanlitun North earlier this year, has reopened across from Tongli Studios. Never have skewered chicken butts been more savory. / The last time I saw words such as “closed for maintenance work,” they were plastered on the door at First Cafe, which shortly thereafter pounded into coaster-size bits. That is, until Tuesday — and I hope it is coincidence — when I spotted them in neat longhand beside the entrance to Mojito, a fairly new place that has Beijing’s only draft Weihenstephaner. (Could a beer have a better name for the China market? The first half sounds delightfully Mandarin and the second evokes the Deutschland.) / Contrary to popular belief, Beijing does have table hockey, courtesy of W Sports Bar, where it is buried amid the ping pong table, dartboard, big-screen TV, pool table, art, grand piano, foosball table, etc. Is there anywhere else in town where you might simultaneously hear “Who’s serve?”, “bull’s eye!”, “I’ll have two beers, please”, “eight ball, corner pocket” and “this is simply too Dadaist for my taste,” all while someone chops out Mozart and a Formula 1 race shows? / Deep in Sanlitun South, a new bar is opening on the second floor of the building that Beer Mania calls home. With W Sports Bar, Q Bar and Yes Club nearby, a new party zone seems to be forming. / Speaking of Q Bar: one crane, four hours, and a dozen people. That’s about what it took to get a five-meter tree and some stone flower beds atop this bar’s increasingly green sixth-floor deck a few weeks ago. Fortunately, should the day come, it will only take a few seconds to get them back down. / With its latest Chicago blues act having returned stateside, Icehouse, the bar part of RBL, now features a mix of local and foreign talent in the form of the Rhythm Dogs (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). Meanwhile, the employee turnstile spins on as Chef Dan Segal, who joined RBL this year after working at the former Louisiana restaurant in the Hilton, has left for Hong Kong. / Stone Boat continues with its funky live music line-up. The next three Fridays feature Enfants Terribles (electro-jazz, August 11), Muwen (traditional instruments, August 18) and Hanggai (“Mongol roots,” August 25), while Panjir Trio plays Saturdays all month. / Speaking of which, shortly after announcing the readers’ choices for its recent bar and club awards, that’s Beijing (TBJ) published its “editor’s picks.” Top spot of the year honors went to Stone Boat (good ambience and music, though the drinks and service are spotty), with honorable mentions to Area (was it on the ballot?) and Club Football (known primarily for its soccer pitches) [Ed. The bar was in fact Redball]. Nothing against those places, but I don’t think collectively they had the impact of Browns. It exploded onto the bar scene this year, is busy beyond belief, appeals to most every age group, nationality and profession, influences and attracts as customers other bar owners and employees, offers decent food and a good draft beer selection, and, last but not least, won the readers’ vote. Love it or hate it, the place has made a mark. By the way, TBJ deserves kudos for organizing these awards. Cynics claim the magazine uses them to placate sponsors, but since each of the 20 categories has one winner and seven losers, more clients are likely to be upset than pleased. (And if you don’t believe it, then a band of TBJ staffers will roll up their gargantuan 250-page magazines and knock you about like a pinata. Or, maybe not.) / Fromage fans must be quick on the return key trigger when they get Beijing Cheese Society invites. Next week’s California-themed event at Palais sold out in a few hours. / Correction: Last issue, I wrote that 5:19 Bar and Grill was starting a darts league. In fact, it is one of the hosts of the Beijing International Darts League, which welcomes new teams and venues (email Chris “Elvis” Milward at firstname.lastname@example.org).
(From Beijing Boyce XXII, first emailed on August 12, 2006)