I know Kirby “The Commish” Carder first and foremost as a sports fan and fellow basketball league player, second as one who appreciates a decent drink, and third as the guy who made fun of my faux sheepskin jacket at least a half-dozen times during the Torres Taste of Nations wine event last fall. Actually, let’s switch number two and three around. Here are his top five bar picks in Beijing.
“1. Twilight: This is without a doubt my favorite bar in Beijing. It’s extremely convenient for anyone who works in Guomao, but somewhat hard to find if you don’t know where to look. It has a drink menu that is a good size but not overwhelming. There are standard drinks that are always available and also a selection of 10 or so cocktails that the owners work hard to make sure reflects the tastes of the season.
“I am drinking a Putong Manhattan. It’s off the menu, but they know I like it and they don’t seem to mind making it for me. If you want something on the main menu try the Moscow Mule, and if you want to try something seasonal, the Fall in Love (a pumpkin banana smoothie drink) is a crowd pleaser right now.
“2. Nashville: Underrated place with a great happy hour. Every drink is two for one during happy hour. It has a great whisky selection that is reasonably priced. I am a big fan of country music, and though the CDs that tend to be played there are not what I would necessarily prefer, beggars can’t be choosers. There is ample seating that never seems to be in short supply, and an outdoor patio for drinking during nice weather.
“I am drinking a beer (probably Carlsberg draught) and a whiskey (probably Glenfiddich 12 year). You got to double fist when the deal is this good.
“3. Fubar: Chad runs a great show. Good drinks at reasonable prices, and the staff is well trained… that is the trifecta for Beijing bars. Only real complaint is that on popular drinking nights it can be impossible to get a seat, but is the fact that the bar is popular really that much of a problem?
“I am drinking a Long Island: pound for pound the most bang for your buck on the menu.
“4. Kura Kura: I actually like some of the other Japanese whiskey bars better, but Kura Kura wins the overall contest because of the convenient location. When it’s cold outside who really wants to walk to Sanlitun North Street to go to the Glen or try to get a cab to go to Ichikura?
“I am drinking one of the harder to find bourbons they have….Elijah Craig anyone? Or one of the Japanese whiskeys: most likely Suntory or Yamasaki.
“5. Formerly at Souk, soon to be at Kro’s Nest: I make this call because of the atmosphere that is created during the pub quiz night run by Jim and Tao. I always have a good time at trivia night, and after my team wins another bottle of vodka (the top prize for winning that night) things usually devolve into a dance party.
“I am drinking whatever is on special, and any booze my team wins while playing the game. The winner of each round gets some kind of drink and any ties are broken through a beer chug: these guys know how to run a trivia contest.”