Top five Beijing watering holes: Jennifer Ying Lan

In this edition of the Top Five Watering Holes Series, gal-about-town Jennifer Ying Lan not only lists her favorite spots to get a drink, but also writes her own introduction. Here it is…


Jennifer Ying Lan, a native Texan, just can’t get enough of Beijing in the summertime. After graduating from Harrrrvard, she followed the flock and found herself on Wall Street at an illustrious 100+ year old investment bank that couldn’t stop buying sub-prime mortgages.

“After a couple years of 80+ hour work weeks, she landed in Beijing, where she blogged for the Beijinger, wrote for Agenda magazine, and sent out the notorious ‘7 Days in Beijing‘ newsletter before returning to graduate school (like a good little Chinese-American girl). Currently completing a dual-degree JD/MBA student at Duke University, she is a summer associate at a swanky international law firm in Beijing and is back for the nineteenth time. Find her at these places.

“5. Aperitivo: Open-air wine bar located right behind the Sanlitun strip. With plenty of outdoor seating and a great location, never sit inside or you’ll miss all the action. Watch the line of people at the crazy-busy jianbing cart and the idiotic drivers in way-too-nice cars as they try to make their way down a jam-packed street filled with people, kids selling roses, and knick-knacks of every kind. By far one of the best people-watching places in town…

“4. Fubar: If you’re one of the very few expats in town who hasn’t been yet, all I’m going to say is: secret door, hot dogs, and 1 RMB mojito nights. (Plus, one of the co-owners is the leading international construction lawyer in the world and as a future lawyer who wants to/will own a restaurant/bar in the future… that’s awesome).

“3. The Saddle Cantina: Come here for the ‘Mexican’ food, a rainbow of margaritas, and rooftop seating. If you’re lucky, some poor soul will sit in the saddle and be force-fed tequila like a foie-gras duck. PS: I adore Luga (the little man) so his place and this one are a bit interchangeable for me.

“2. No Name Bar: The first bar back then at Houhai and it’s still holding strong. Sit by the window at night, light a candle, look out over the lake, feel the breeze, and watch the people stroll by. Unless your fellow patrons are from Jersey, you should be able to have a pretty peaceful and perhaps romantic evening.

“1. Maison Boulud: Hands down, the classiest place in town. Located inside the former American embassy at the Legation Quarter, you feel the history as soon as you walk in the door. Rumor has it, this is where Henry Kissinger met with Zhou Enlai on his secret trip to the Middle Kingdom before Richard Nixon came and the West saw China. Ask to see the “Red Room” where the meeting took place. The decor is old school European meets a modern interior designer. Have the gorgeous and ultra-sophisticated Ignace [Lecleir] make you a cocktail before he leaves, sit back and enjoy the live jazz or house music, and just feel good. (Although to be honest, I don’t see myself ever going again after Ignace leaves.)

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