A special report by regular contributor The Village Grouch, who not only went on a Saturday night pub crawl, but also – in the spirit of wrestler The Rock, NBA star Karl Malone, and actor Kurt Russell as Jack Burton* in Big Trouble in Little China – refers to himself in the third person.
“The Village Grouch was out Saturday night in the company of intrepid combat photographer Slim, who just recently returned from the front.
“First stop was Apothecary (map) to see if the Boyce taste was still intact, and indeed it is. Apothecary is a class act – clean floor, good lighting, and bartenders that are snipers rather than machine gunners. Even in cold November, the mint julep was refreshing, striking a fine balance between taste and punch. TVG then ordered a house special, the Sazerac, which was a fine drink that sipped and sipped and sipped. Drinks aren’t cheap and pours aren’t generous, but TVG didn’t go to Apothecary for that and is looking forward to his next visit.
“A quick stop at Luga’s (map) found the place about half full, the beers cold and reasonably priced, and the nachos serviceable.
“Walking across the vast Sanlitun plateau through the Village and across to the stadium, we found Fubar (map) was wall-to-wall, with a pleasantly higher proportion of female patrons than in its earlier days. Chad kindly bought TVG and Slim their first round — a Hendrick’s Gin and tonic, served the way the maker wants it, with cucumber, not lime or lemon. TVG, a staunch Tanqueray 10 fan, became an immediate convert. Away, wretched lime!
“Two of those later, the place was still full, but our duo moved on to Beijing’s only venue regularly referred to as a bar, church and embassy — Maggie’s (map). Reports of a return to the old days of larger crowds proved true upon our 1:30 AM arrival — the place was heaving, even without hearing Lady Gaga on the sound system. A good mix of people, fast, efficient bar service, and lots to look at maintain the venue’s status as a top after-hours place.
“On an F&B note — the improvement in service at Union Bar & Grille (map) since the recent arrival of Everton-supporting manager Andy is pronounced. Aside from being an all-around nice guy, he is clearly applying the constant pressure and support the wait staff has needed but was sorely lacking prior. The Zack-Andy kitchen-front of house combo is a solid one and TVG hopes both will remain in place for some time to come.
* An example of Jack Burton in third-person action:
When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye and asks you if you paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have you paid your dues, Jack? Yessir, the check is in the mail.”