These are the nights to enjoy a drink on a rooftop, deck or patio, and my favorite spots remain Pavillion and Stone Boat Cafe, with other good options being Drum and Bell, Frank’s Place and Q Bar. Remember, our lungs filter pollution from this city’s air and a strong collective outside drinking effort might allow us to spot a star or two some evening. (Note: Pavillion offers the added flashback value of hearing Wham!, Huey Lewis, The Vapors and Jackson Browne within an hour.) / John Bull Pub, run by legendary bar proprietor Frank Siegel, is saying toodleloo London and hello Houston as it transforms into a Texas BBQ joint (see “We Got Email” / Zing by Doodoo, an esteemed member of the Bad Bar Name Hall of Fame, is also changing identities and will reemerge as Thai restaurant Serve the People, which is hardly a better name given that it evokes cannibalism. / 49 kuai for a pint of Carlsberg at Face. Ouch! / The Bookworm celebrated its one-year anniversary yesterday. With tasty food, interesting lectures, live music, plenty of books for sale or loan, and an extensive beverage menu, this place has been a runaway success. Not surprisingly, its incredible popularity can make it tough for wireless seekers to get a seat, and that can mean occasional forays to Le Petit Gourmand or SPR Coffee. / Browns now serves “jungle juice” during Wednesday ladies’ nights, which means people may soon be swinging from the rafters as well as dancing on the bar. Speaking of Browns, the foam party two weekends ago saw bubbles upon bubbles for most of the night, but they had burst by Sunday brunch. The place was virtually empty, yet it took over 20 minutes to get a simple breakfast and the COFFEE MACHINE WAS BROKEN! “If this had been my first visit to Browns, I would never go back,” said a downright bitter and caffeine-withdrawn M-Dawg. / Nearby, The Loft has renamed itself Hot Loft. I have no punch line to do justice to this marketing brilliance. / Reader K.S. aka Killer Schoolmarm has spoken to the owner of recently chai’d The Big Easy and says the Louisiana-style hotspot will again grace our city, retaining the spirit of its original interior, but with a new outside look (more to come on this). / M-Dawg and I visited Q Bar two Saturdays ago and waited not only 15 minutes to order, but also 30 minutes in vain for our drinks. With parched throats, we went to Phil’s Pub and soon had Gin Tonics at one-third the cost. It seems to me that Q Bar is best when providing quality cocktails in a tranquil environment, which suggests a need to focus on speeding up drink delivery rather than on, say, hiring a DJ to play house music. Translation: I want my dry martini and John Lee Hooker! Fortunately, the drinks were coming fast and slightly furious during a visit earlier this week. / Speaking of which, Trevor and Kenn from Alternate Paradigm will slip into aprons and host an end-of-summer BBQ on Q Bar’s rooftop (September 23, 2 PM-late). Twenty-five kuai gets you a cheeseburger, two hot dogs, grilled veggies or six wings, all of which come with a baked potato. / Skipping back to Phil’s, I visited several times recently and rediscovered the joys of cheap but decent cocktails, 30-kuai Erdinger, and a friendly neighborhood pub atmosphere. Moreover, after a long stint in Qingdao , owner Phil is back and teamed up with Sally. My only recommendation for this place: vaporize the PlayStation console, or at least anyone using it. / The new branch of Raj held a party last Saturday night with the expected buffet of Indian food and traditional dancing. The rooftop is ideal for enjoying a few brew (from 15 kuai for Qingdao to 25 kuai for Kingfisher) or some wine (though those puny glasses have to go), before heading to nearby Bed or Drum and Bell. / The Stone Boat has upgraded its wine and cocktail menu over the past year and credit goes to Amy and Jonathan. The Martini and Mojito are better, though the latter is still light on alcohol, and it is nice to enjoy wine in a proper glass in such a relaxing spot.
(From Beijing Boyce XXIV, first emailed on September 21, 2006)