New Zealand native Jo Greene moved to Beijing just over a year ago and has acquired a fondness for the drinking holes of Nanluoguxiang and its surrounding hutongs. Here are her five favorite spots to get a drink.
“Some people wonder why I choose to live in Gongti, considering I spend most of my time in Nanluoguxiang. Well, if I could pick up my apartment and put it down in Ju’er Hutong, I would! It’s probably a better question to ask why I spend so much time in the NLGX area. Well, here’s the answer:
“12SQM: This place is like sitting in my living room drinking with friends. The southernmost bar of NLGX (and formerly the smallest) was the first place I had a drink at when I arrived in Beijing just over a year ago. The owner Joseph is an ex-colleague and actually it’s the unofficial hangout for most of my old travel buddies who either live in or just pass through Beijing. I love the unpretentiousness of this place and that I can pick the music using my iPhone. You’ll find me most nights sitting in the window seat people watching over a pint of Yanjing or a nip of one of their long list of whiskeys.
“Mao Mao Chong: When it’s time for food I head down Banchang utong to Mao Mao. Stephen is another ex-colleague and I love what he’s done with this place since moving it down from Wudaoying Hutong. The pizzas are some of my favourite bar food in the city and he has an impressive cocktail list that changes with the seasons, not to mention a great selection of Australian wines by the glass. If you’re in need of a present for friends overseas try one of Mao Mao’s own designer t-Shirts.
“Amilal: I wont tell you exactly where this little gem is because I’d like it to stay a secret! Amilal is a great chill-out spot at the end of the night. Alc is a excellent host, along with the cats, fish, and the occasional canine visitor. The music collection is impressive, it’s the only place in this city I’ve heard both Tom Waits and Johnny Cash on the play-list. Amilal also has a fine whiskey selection and sometimes live Mongolian folk music on the weekend.
“Jianghu Jiu Ba: This Dongmianhua Hutong hideaway would have to be one of my favourite live music venues in Beijing. I’m here usually at least once a week for gigs. The small stage and cosy back room give it an intimate feel, like you’re almost on stage with the musicians. I’ve seen everything from the full lineup of Girls Are Waiting To Meet You crammed onto the tiny corner for a full plugged-in show, to Michael Dallin from Bad Apples singing with just his acoustic guitar, and almost everything in between! The owner Tianxiao is a great saxophonist, and his friends will frequently pop by for jazz jam sessions. The atmosphere is so chilled you’ll often find the bands sharing beer and chatting with fans after the shows. They also have their own beers, both yellow and black draft.
“Salud: The perfect place to end the night. When everything else in the area is closing, this place will still be pumping. Well known amongst the French crowd, Salud has some great Wednesday night gigs as well, from Chinese folk, to French reggae, to Irish fiddles, there’s always a lot of variety, sometimes all in the same night. I can’t pick the music with my iPhone here, but when it gets late the French bartenders are always open to music suggestions. Behind the bar there’s a great selection of homemade flavoured rums, however I prefer their sangria in the summer and mulled wine in the winter.