As I twitched about Wal-Mart in a fluorescent light-induced daze about six weeks ago, an SMS from E. Salt, one of Taipei’s premier party people, snapped me out of it. She was in Beijing and up for a drink – note to self: there is no such a thing as “a” drink with ES – so I hightailed it out of the hypermarket and headed on my first pub-crawl in heavens knows how long. Such moments force one to think quickly and here’s where I took a visiting pal who likes a decent drink and some fun on a school night:
Q Bar: The deck was tranquil save for one excruciatingly loud woman who peppered tales of her tedious life with four-letter words. I normally oppose capital punishment, but there are exceptions… Anyway, we moved to another part of the bar, and I had an Alfonso Special while ES enjoyed a Dragon Fruit Margarita. Thumbs up to both drinks.
China Doll: The second floor bar was semi-busy and we ran into Peter, who is in the Bourbon, Rye and Whisk(e)y League. ES had a Margarita (not bad), I had the Ai Wan Special (light and safe), and that “risque” video played for, what, the millionth time?
Wonder Bar: My brain wonders if this bar will work in Tongli Studio, my heart says I hope they can figure things out. It has decent seating, music and martinis, the last at 40 kuai. ES, who hails from Wales, said the Margarita was fine. She then impressed one co-owner by breaking into Taiwanese (show-off).
Kokomo: Owner Bill was on hand and we tried his recommended drink, a Pain Killer (note: the effects did not last through the next morning). It was fine, but my favorite Kokomo cocktail thus far is the Original Mai Tai.
Shooters: Bill joined us as we sat outside, watched the rain, and tried a few shots at 10 kuai per (Bill loved the Pink Panties). This was probably a good time to call it a night, but we went to…
The Rickshaw: It was back to Margaritas as we munched our way through medium wings and potato chips drizzled with melted blue cheese and Alfredo sauce. Good times!
Maggies: Bill took off as ES and I finished the night at one of the city’s most famous / infamous / misunderstood bars. She stuck with Margaritas, I had a Budweiser, and we enjoyed the music and people watching as the wee hours grew larger…
All in all, it was a fun night, and proved two things: 1) Beijing’s bar scene is ever-changing, since nearly every spot on this little tour did not exist a year ago; 2) that it’s a good thing E-Salt and I no longer live in the same city or I’d probably be in my grave from trying to keep up with her!