I am glad the resolutions I made for 2009 did not include going to bed early because I would have broken that one about a dozen times already. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of taking visitors on pub crawls, test-driving the new-to-Beijing “social media” vehicle foursquare.com, cranking out a few dozen favors, and having a drip of tea and coffee during the day to make up for a lack of time spent between the sheets. I think next week will feature more time at home in the tub with a book. In any case, a few notes about spots visited:
Apothecary: I like the DIY angle and range of drinks but find this is becoming a place I take visitors, much like Chocolate, Maggie’s, and D Lounge, rather than a place to simply hang out, such as Q Bar, Ichikura, and Fubar. The design is somewhat bright and clinical (one acquaintance says it has an “IKEA feel”), the staff a bit somber, and the prices stiff given the drink sizes. And that 5 percent service charge? I get the idea of rewarding employees but that can be done by increasing prices and giving them a cut rather than presenting a bill that is higher than expected and causes first confusion and then annoyance for some people. Overall, an interesting addition to the scene.
Q Bar: After a few years of sporadic visits, I have been going here quite a lot lately and enjoyed the inaugural two-for-one martini night on Wednesday — 6 PM to 11 PM, with more than a dozen mix and match options. While the wait was a bit long at some points, the drink quality was good and I appreciated the “last call.” The night included a “tweet-up“, a gathering of Beijing-based twitter users, which added to the fun.
Maggie’s: Beijing’s headquarters for short-term foreign joint ventures has moved… to the back of the building. The space has been reduced — a modestly sized room with a bar to go along with three smaller ones, two of which have a pool table — but the crowd has not, so expect more squeezing than usual. I’ll update when the entire place is open.
Fubar: Several simultaneous parties meant wall-to-wall people last Friday night and, unlike on some previous visits, near parity in the numbers of men and women as DJ Tipsy cranked out pop songs and people pounded drinks – I’m not sure if the theme was cleavage, but it certainly seemed to be. A sloppy but swell affair backed by arguably the most likable bar staff in town, though please note that Sambuca shots do not come with lemon and salt.
Before heading to Fubar, I met Mr Hao and Ms Hao and we found plenty of people at Luga’s Villa (thumbs-up to the food, including my chicken with mole sauce), Nearby the Tree (with few empty seats downstairs, we spread out on the comfy sofas upstairs), and Salud (nothing gets the night started like an infused rum shot). The only place with a light turnout: Ciro’s Pomodoro, where we lasted about a minute due to the ear-splitting sound of cymbals and drums.
Goose and Duck: About two dozen people on hand Saturday morning for the NFL playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens. The coffee I had was strong enough to resurrect the dead or perhaps even the Detroit Lions.
Le Petit Gourmand: Love the place, but when my fingers are too numb to type and I lose feeling in my feet, there is a temperature problem. Add some space heaters, crank up the Tongli Studio furnace, start fires in strategically placed oil drums – I dunno, but it’s too bloody cold. The Bookworm gets chilly, though nowhere close to Le Petit Gourmand.
Finally, Bar Blu has gone through a bit of a decor upgrade, though it looks like it is pretty much the same scene up there, Blue Frog continues to pack in people on Mondays, which is no surprise given the two-for-one burgers are excellent value,