I go out quite a bit but usually display enough self-control to avoid hangovers. The problem is events where the booze is free and flowing – an all-you-can-drink Japanese joint, a wine tasting with unlimited pours, a wedding or business dinner where “ganbei” is the rule.
A few of those converged over a thirty-hour period at the tail end of last week and gave me the worst brain-pounding, I-will-never-drink-again hangover of the millennium. The key event: my best friend’s wedding, which involved a few too many baijiu shots. An unexpected follow-up: I had a first date afterward and, having forewarned the poor woman ahead of time of the state of my condition, showed up to find out her preferred cocktail was… milk.
A few notes on some places visited during a two-night spree:
- Hong Kong Jockey Club: Near the Legendale Hotel, this spacious and luxurious venue has a large lobby, high ceilings, and plenty of marble and plush carpets. I attended an event for Louis Roderer wines, organized by Links Concept, and downed a few glasses of Kristal (a bottle in a restaurant would cost about as much as, uh, the rent on my apartment for a month, so, yes, I indulged).
- Chocolate: The best combination of over-the-top fun, good service, reasonably priced drinks, and decor in town. We ordered the Russian Standard vodka, which is great value at RMB238 per bottle (mixers cost extra), and enjoyed the floor show, the general wildness, and a few shots. (Apparently, I became engaged in a dispute about my country’s virtues but it, fortunately for me, turned into hugs all around.)
- Punk: I know people who love this place, so we will have to agree to disagree. I find the drinks are overpriced (RMB50 for a Rum and Coke), the layout mundane, and the place to have as much charm as a school auditorium.
- Golden [Something]: I can’t remember the full name, which is fine, since I won’t be back. This is one of those hostess bars where half-bored female employees feed patrons pieces of fruit on sticks, keep the Johnnie Walker and Heineken flowing, occasionally say “ganbei”, and grimace as people take turns slaughtering songs KTV-style. I just don’t get the appeal of these places. Next…
- Suzie Wong: This old standby remains among the “must see” bars when I take visitors on a Beijing bar crawl. We had a bottle of Jose Cuervo 1800, which people at my table, when they weren’t dancing, mixed with… cranberry juice? I’ll have mine straight, please.
- Centro: Another old standby, the place was packed to the max on Saturday night, with every table full and plenty of people standing about. Despite this being a pretty pricey place, there was no sign of an economic recession here.
An Xiang Fu Dong: A Hubei restaurant across from the Kuntai Hotel. Though I was saturated with baijiu (this would be at the wedding), the food stood out as tasty and extremely good value.