Enoteca wine bar: Now (finally) with beer and 50% off food

File: Better late than never?

Let’s say you have a group of six colleagues in Central Park who want to go out for after-work drinks. And that four of them want wine and two want beer. Until now, that meant skipping Enoteca (map) in The Place.

For some reason, and despite suggestions, Enoteca has steadfastly refused to add even a single beer to its menu, thus losing business from not only those two beer fans above but also their four wine-drinking co-workers Until now. New manager Tomas Hladnik, formerly the rep for Strait vodka, says Stella will be available from Monday.

Even better, during August, Enoteca is offering a 50 percent discount on all food, including tapas, pastas, and a new selection of sandwiches and salads.

Enoteca is a cozy enough, with sofa and bar seating, and the range of wines – most imported by the owners – is decent, though it can be hit and miss. Perhaps the addition of this food special and beer option will finally bring in the traffic hoped for since the opening.

See also: Sips and bites, extended play: Tim’s, Kro’s, Luga’s, Enoteca, Nanjie, Tun, and more

Cocktails in Beijing: Maison Boulud, Agua, Q Bar, Fubar

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Maison Boulud: Drink or meal?

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I stopped by Legation Quarter (map), now known as Chi’enmen 23, for a few cocktails on my way to Sanlitun last night. At Maison Boulud, I skipped my usual spicy Project 23 and refreshing Bourbon Iced Tea – the latter is not listed on the menu, which I find odd given this is a perfect summer drink – and tried a cocktail that includes “five spices“. I found it too heavy and the flavors too muddied, though the humid weather might have been a factor. After I noted this to the affable guy behind the bar – Jackie – he made me a Frescoe Martini. Kumquat-infused rum with lime, litchi, and strawberry – this was refreshment.

These cocktails are not cheap. The two I tried are listed at RMB72, though they come to RMB75.6 after the annoying 5 percent service charge (seriously, just make it RMB75 or RMB76, give the staff its cut, and save us all the hassle). But they are good value, given the surroundings and that the drink came with a bowl of cashews and some other snacks.

I then went to Agua, via Hex – I still think this place looks like a cross between a futuristic beehive and a high-end hostess bar – where I parked myself at the bar. I tried the Purple Love – muddled red grapes with gin, lemon juice, and lemon peel. I found it well-blended and smooth, in contrast to the cloying descriptions of the drinks on the menu.

I prefer the glassware here to Maison Boulod, where it is elegant but lacks proper weight. As for vibe, while Maison Boulud is staid – think of a private club where Mr. Burns of The Simpsons might feel comfy – Agua has the rattle and hum of the kitchen and crowd to provide background noise. Which one is best? It depends on your mood.

And what is the price of Purple Love? RMB82RMB16 discount + 10% service charge = RMB73. Well, at least they round things off to the nearest kuai. I didn’t make it to Fez, upstairs from Agua, this time around, but will soon…

Two other places I have grabbed drinks lately:

Q Bar (map): The new deck, despite being bigger, is much more intimate and the soundproofing means it is open later. There is also a bar outside as well as a kiosk where the staff can punch in drink orders and thus allow the bartenders inside to get a head start. A strong point of Q Bar is consistency, no easy feat, though at RMB60 per martini the prices approach that of The Legation Quarter.

Fubar (map): For mixed drinks, this place is hard to beat. A 50 ml pour of 42 Below vodka (five flavours available), Bombay Sapphire gin, or Havana 3 is RMB30 with mixer. The cocktails are decent, which is a pleasant surprise given how long the place has been open, and tend to be RMB50. The vibe? With Fubar only open 10 days, that is still to be determined. On my visits, I have found a diverse crowd of three dozen men and women, a handful of guys giving public descriptions of the adventures of their privates, and a soccer-fan heavy crowd. Still, for those seeking solid mixed drinks at low prices, this is a place to be.

Sips & bites: AC Milan in Solana, The Apartment, Banana Leaf, Union, and more

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In Solana (map), the newest branch of Banana Leaf has had at least a kick-off party – I will pop out there soon to see if the place is fully up and running. And in what would fit neatly into the file, “I didn’t see that one coming,” word has is that Italian football brand AC Milan is likely to take over Tsingtao Beer Garden. (Hat tip to The French .) Speaking of Solana, has anyone tried La Pizza? I am hearing good things about this place. And speaking of football, two Italian teams will be in town in early August to play in the Bird’s Nest. See this post for related food deals, and ticket and jersey giveaways, at Piazza Italia (map).

The Apartment, a bar converted to provide the feel of an apartment, complete with kitchen, living room, deck, and lounge, is taking shape. The idea is to start off with several dozen “founding members“, each of whom can invite guests, each of whom can later be voted in by the current members. More details on this soon…

Meanwhile, word is the food and beverage empire Lugatopia will add another world cuisine to its reaches by opening a Thai spot above Luga’s Villa (map).

Union Bar & Grille (map) is offering a bar snacks menu from today at 4 PM (see photo above). It includes mozzarella sticks, pale ale battered onion rings with creamy horseradish sauce, homemade nachos with avocado, black beans, beef,  and more, and, my favorite, a spinach and artichoke dip served in a “bread bowl” (you scoop the dip out with pieces of baguette and then eat the bowl for good measure). Union is also planning a weekly all-you-can-eat southern fried chicken buffet with mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, and corn on the cob. Also of note: pints of Guinness draft are two for RMB50 during happy hour, daily from 5 PM to 8 PM. This place is rapidly improving from its toaster-gate and coffee-gate days.

No horsing around: Watermelons, wisdom, and security guards in Beijing

A scene on the fifth ring road (I couldn’t hear the conversation, so am guessing as to its content)…

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Security guy: Hey, you can’t park your horse here! Move it!

Standing guy: You must be joking. We chose this spot because it offers maximum distribution of our produce with minimal interference of traffic.

Reclining guy:  Yes, silly man. And this is actually research – part of our plan to write a superior treatise to “Let Us Speak of the Philosophic Questions of Selling Watermelons in Big Cities” by Chou Hsin-li.

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Security guy: Chou Hsin-Li, Chou Schmin Li. Move that horse or else!

Standing guy: Or else? To borrow a proverb, “power comes out the barrel of a gun,” not from the end of a finger, no matter how much you wag it.

Reclining guy: And might I add that your nails are filthy? If, as they say in the West, “cleanliness is next to godliness,” you are clearly next to atheism.

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Security guy: Ha, I’m back! Now it is four against two. Move that horse!

Standing guy: You realize the issue is not the horse but your desire to cover up general feelings of impotence by forcing others to do your bidding, no matter how menial the task. A classic case of “transference” or “covering one’s own ears while stealing a bell.”

Reclining guy: You further fail to consider the havoc our horse might wreak should we utter a command and have it send your colleagues scurrying. “When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter,” it is said, and, yes, that is also a slight toward your uniforms. Sooooo psuedo-establishment…

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Security guy: Big words! But we have bigger numbers. Now move that horse!

Standing guy: They say “The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher” and so we shall move 20 meters up this street and beyond your puny jurisdiction.

Reclining guy: But we shall do so not out of fear but because your woefully inept group is increasing in size and creating a far bigger traffic issue than did we.

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Security guy: Good riddance!

Standing guy: My friend, “Distance tests a horse’s strength. Time reveals a person’s character.”

Reclining guy: And we hope that over the coming hours, days, and weeks, you will reflect on your behavior and realize that the mileage accumulated by you and your colleagues due to this episode is a hundredfold of what we have totalled. In other words, FAIL.

And with that, they did move 20 meters up the road and continued to sell their watermelons….

Superb single malt value: Happy hour at Nashville

Nashville (map) has long featured one of the best single malt selections in Beijing and now regular reader Mr Miyagi adds that it also offers excellent value during the daily two-for-one happy hour, from 5 PM to 8 PM.

This includes 30-year-old single malts, with a pair of pours – that Mr Miyagi describes as being of a a “decentsize – costing RMB280 for Laphroig or Bowmore or RMB260 for Highland or Glenfiddich. At the cheaper end of the list, two pours of Glenfiddich 12-year old cost RMB45, while Talisker 18-year-old is RMB120. Also of note, two Johnnie Walker Black cost RMB40, while Jim Beam will set up back RMB35.