Take an otherwise ho-hum subterranean space, add a good slate of beers, install dart boards, TVs, foosball and pool tables, and comfy seating, come up with some fun events, and you get The Stumble Inn, the new sports bar and lounge in the former Sangria. Owner Shane O’Neill and manager Glenn Phelan have put this place together faster than it takes a group of Chinese businessmen to polish off a bottle of free baijiu.
First, the beers: The Stumble Inn offers the best beer selection in Beijing, with 5 on tap and 49 in bottle, including Lucky, a Shanghai brew that comes in a green Buddha-shaped bottle and is available nowhere else in our fair city. Add in the American, Belgian, Australian and other brews, and the city’s beer lovers should be happy. The more adventurous can join the nearly two dozen people listed on a wall chart and try each beer, upon completion of which you will receive a case of your favorite as well as a personalized shirt and mug. About the only fault I can find with the beer list is that Coors Light is listed as Canadian, about as low a blow as you can strike at a Canuck.
Second, the layout. The space is well used, with the dart boards set in a side pocket, though this does reduce the opportunity for “it’s always fun until somebody loses an eye” jokes. The pool table also has its own zone, while the pool table is placed to allow a good flow of traffic to the bar, table and lounge seating.
Downstairs is a different story, with a floor that looks like it came out of a Brady Bunch rec room and a decor that reminds me of a Chinese teahouse, complete with a wooden bridge to the toilets, though changes are apparently in the works.
The Stumble Inn is also holding several other events. First, it is joining the ladies night bridge and offering free Bacardi Breezers to the fairer sex, Saturdays from 8 to 11 PM. Second, it will screen American Idol every Wednesday and then hold an “open mic” Beijing Idol contest, overseen by a panel of three.
Finally, as you stumble out, you might find yourself reversing direction to read the backwards message printed one word per step. And that message might just inspire you to go back for another beer…