Back in days of yore, a scribe named Winopete kept Taipei’s bar-goers up-to-date with a terse, witty newsletter – pretty much the opposite of what I write. He recently relocated to Shanghai where he’s doing the same for those unfortunate to live in a city without rock ‘n roll (low blow!). Here are snippets from his most recent newsletter. To join his mailing list, send a message to email@example.com with, “I Love Wine Spritzers” in the subject line. He’ll be giving every second person to sign up a bottle of his favorite wine – Eaglehawk – and a kiss on both cheeks (offer yet to be confirmed).
“The looming monolith that has appeared right on the doorstep of O’Malleys is a German beer house by the sombre name of Castle October (39 Taojiang Road). It was originally a government building and took more than 6 months of renovations and building to become Castle ‘O’. Financed by rich Koreans and managed by Kim (a Norwegian, ex-head chef at Sashas), this place looks like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts or something out of ‘Black Adder’. There’s a beautiful, sprawling garden behind the main structure, with the brewery located at the back. The ground floor is rather small with a tiny bar and a few tables and rooms, but upstairs are restaurant rooms and a great balcony on the 2nd level, with huge drinking halls and high ceilings on the 3rd level. There’s so much wood around, it’s an absolute beaver’s delight. Walls are adorned with a wide mix of art- Salvador Dali and Picasso prints put in an appearance, yet there’s also a display of German scripophily and more mundane ‘beer deco’ to please the testologists. Winopete’s keen eye even spied a nice piece in the kitchen, but we won’t dwell on that now, other than thinking that she should have been serving the suds, not peeling the spuds…
“O’MALLEYS MAKES ANNUAL COMEBACK
“This Irish nag may be long in the tooth, but she’s certainly not ready for the glue factory just yet. O’Malleys blitzed the competition in the St Patrick’s Day business stakes, with a stunning 35% increase in revenue compared to ‘green beer day’ last year. On the afternoon of the 17th, Themepub Group generalissimo ‘TA’ told this sozzled scribe that they had ordered 120 kegs of Guinness and were expecting 2000 people through the doors that night. Apparently, they had to order even more Guinness mid-evening. Total RMB into the till on St Paddy’s day this year was a whopping RMBxxx,xxx (no, that was one figure they did not divulge), but various sources estimate that it was close to 400K. Not too shabby! O’Malleys has always been the most popular place in Shanghai for shamrock revelers on St Patrick’s Day, with the Blarney Stone also doing very well on 17/3, as is to be expected. On ya’, lads!
“FREE SOUL BAR
“Free Soul (1221 Change Le Rd, about 100m west of Wulumuqi Rd) appeared on the Shanghai pub scene a year ago in Fahuazhen Rd, then 2 months ago re-located to Chang Le Rd, a much more user-friendly location for those of us who frequent the Hengshan/Dongping bar zone. On first appearance, Free Soul seems better suited to a Julu Rd or Maoming Rd location, but in fact, although this is a no-frills, el cheapo bar, it is thankfully clear of bar girl ‘buy me drink’ pressure, which means I decided it warranted further investigation. Being a dive bar, decore was minimal, with a rust-bucket red coat of paint, dribs and drabs of forgettable wall decorations, a bowl of seven fish on the bar and a small neon display of yellow tequila glasses and pink margarita glasses. The two friendly lasses behind the bar go by the names of Camilla and Sky. At the bar, there’s space for about 8 stools, with a few tables and a foosball table in the front room and a pool table and more seating out the back. To use the ablutions facility, one must go through the shower; perhaps handy for certain circumstances…