In the latest installment of the top five watering holes series, local know-it-all Charlie Flint of the Chinese version of How Stuff Works tells us where he grabs a drink after a long day of telling residents how to use an elevator (let the people inside get out first), how to refurbish a sidecar motorcycle so it looks wicked cool, and how to survive a baijiu dinner by surreptitiously slipping your shots into the soup. (Actually, I made those examples up. Just a few free ideas for How Stuff Works.)
Here are his picks…
Fubar (map): Currently my default watering-hole, Fubar is an excellent combination of quality, value, service, and vibe. There aren’t many places in this town where you can score mixed drinks made with top-shelf liquor for 30 kuai. Add in a great atmosphere – this place feels like home with its gregarious management and staff and a crew of steady regulars – and you have the perfect place to unwind after a long day of work.
Chocolate (map): The most ridiculously sublime bar I’ve been to in ages. From the pole-dancers to the 300-pound burlesque queens to the uber-cheesy band playing eighties-era Russian dance music, it has to be seen to be believed. Sure, its a LAN knockoff, but LAN (mistakenly) takes itself seriously, whereas Chocolate feels like it is in on the joke. I mean, come on – gold-plated urinals. Anyhow, I may have a soft spot for the place because of a wild night there that saw a certain Beijing bar-scene blogger drinking from ladies’ shoes and starting fights with Russian mob-types (and saw me waking up on my bathroom floor the next day), but it is one of Beijing’s must-visit bars.
Q Bar (map): I’ll have to agree with the others who’ve pegged this as a Top 5′er. Q Bar’s bartenders know how to mix a solid cocktail, and the rooftop deck is a fantastic place to hang out with friends, business associates, or out-of-town guests. And I love to take first-timers through the decidedly bland Chinese hotel below it. There’s such a weird transition that takes place en route to t he terrace as you pass the pensioners from Wuhan on holiday .
G-Zou (map): Discretely tucked away on the bottom floor of one of the towers of Sunshine 100, this Japanese shoju bar has an impressive selection of this distinctive (and amazingly diverse) drink. With a clientele that’s 95 percent Japanese and staff that only speak Japanese and some broken Chinese, it can be a little difficult to communicate… but that becomes part of the fun. The bartenders are great sports, know their spirits, and seem all too happy to drink along with you. Added bonus: It’s directly across the street from Oriental Taipan, making for the perfect 1-2 punch when combining a shoju bender and a foot massage.
Scarlett (map): I’m cheating a little bit here, as I’ve admittedly never gone drinking at Scarlett without eating, but I can safely state I’ve never eaten there without drinking, too. A great place to start the night with a bottle of wine and some charcuterie, Scarlett’s got a relaxed feel that keeps me coming back. Plus it sports one of Beijing’s better pool tables (where I usually get hustled by French pool sharks), and a Long Island Iced Tea that leaves me seeing spots.