Wine Weekend III: One year for wine bar

I owed myself a weekend of fun for ages and cashed in Friday, Saturday and Sunday by attending five wine events. Here’s number three:

It took (exactly) one year but I finally made it to Houhai wine bar Le Baie des Anges last Saturday night for its first-year anniversary party. The layout is tight but cozy, with two seating areas separated by a bar with space for a half-dozen people. There are about ten wines by the glass and prices are reasonable – two roses and a house red set me back 110 kuai. The wait staff is friendly, though service was a bit spotty at times, partly due to the busy night and partly because they weren’t coming to the back areas much, but twas no biggie.

If you’ve been to Hutong Pizza, you’ll find Le Baie des Anges a few meters away.  You can also walk from Starbuck’s, down Lotus Lane and to the street with Buddha Bar. Look up the sidestreets until you find the one – it has a hotpot restaurant on the corner –  with the bar’s neon-blue sign. Or just get the map here.

All in all, a good place, a good time, and it won’t take me a year to return…

Note: Actually, it took me less than a week, as I visited this place with Sir Campbell T last night for a Moon Festival drink. A nice, relaxed environment…

Sir Mix-a-lot: Johnson, teammates finish fourth in Cocktail World Cup

A new Olympic event?

After taking top spot in the Beijing qualifier of the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup, Aria’s Johnson Ren teamed up with Cross Yu (Vault, Shanghai) and Alex Zhou (Volar, Shanghai) to finish fourth out of fourteen teams at the championships in New Zealand. According to a press release from Confucius Says:

Team China rounded out the top teams in fourth place, and the intrepid threesome of Johnson, Cross and Alex impressed the world with the continuing rapid rise of Chinese mixology. Their “chuan chao” (Mandarin for “spice of life”) brought together vanilla and clove-infused 42 BELOW Pure Vodka with a mix of lemon, vanilla, ginger, lemongrass and pineapple, topped with a sichuan pepper and vanilla foam to form a uniquely Chinese flavoured concoction served in an ancient zun (樽).

Team China’s performance earned the team high praise. Judge Dale DeGroff described their cocktail as ‘really amazing, beautiful and the tie of the spice and vessel were great. Asia is on the up.’ While 42 BELOW Vodka Professor Jacob Briars said ‘China has come on leaps and bounds since last year’s contest. Their drink was off the hook. Kudos.

Congratulations Johnson, and hopefully we’ll be seeing that drink on the Aria cocktail list.

Wine Weekend II: Cabs, quizzes and sauerkraut

I owed myself a weekend of fun for ages and cashed in last Friday, Saturday and Sunday by attending five wine events. Here’s number two:

The Beijing Wine Club organized a full evening of fun – including a blind tasting, food and quiz – last Saturday night at Sequoia Cafe. Here’s what attendees received for the 220-kuai entry fee:

  • A blind tasting of two whites
  • A blind tasting of two reds
  • Barbecued sausages, salad, beans, sauerkraut, brownies and more, accompanied by a nice Shiraz-Grenache
  • Two quizzes with an excellent mix of questions ranging from easy to challenging: name three of the five biggest Chinese wine producers, name five whites and five reds, name the profession of the person who invented Champagne (conventional wisdom says it was Dom Perignon and he was a monk, though wine geeks will tell that it was the brainchild of the English).
  • A chance to meet new people in a crowd that spanned what must have been nearly a dozen nationalities.

This was a well-organized, high-value event that not only was good fun but also boosted my knowledge of wine. It lived up to the invite – “From the savvy sauvignon blanc to the spicy shiraz, by the end of the evening you will know a little more wine.” Kudos go to the organizers.

Sanlitun smackdown targets blacks

The South China Morning Post and Reuters have reported that Beijing police arrested, and in some cases beat, between 20 and 30 blacks in Sanlitun last Friday night in what was an apparent drug crackdown. The Zhongnanhai blog quotes the SCMP report:

Dozens of black tourists and expatriates, including the son of the Grenadian ambassador, were arrested and some badly beaten during an apparently indiscriminate anti-drug operation by Beijing police….

“It was pretty brutal,” Beijing-based magazine editor Alex Reid said.

“I saw a man being beaten by six guys in camouflage. He was covered in blood. The police seemed to be targeting anyone who was black.”

Reuters carried this story, while China Expat included this post. As Zhongnanhai notes, there has been a conspicious lack of drug dealers in Sanlitun – since about May, by my own account. Expect more on this one…