Good vittles (baked beans, brisket and the like from Home Plate), good booze (Fighting Cock Bourbon and Brooklyn, Saranac and Dead Guy beers from Dxcel) and endless unintentional comedy (a mechanical bull to toss patrons about) — a slow clap to the Beijing Hilton for its Zeta Rodeo last weekend. The event drew a crowdmodest in size, though high in spirit, which surprised me given the number of people who said they intended to go and inspired me to get there early for a seat. Go figure. Some highlights:
The “Brokeback” bull ride by a pair of patrons that ended with one of them getting thrown off and almost “gored” (see above). True, that horn is a rubber, but still…
Second place: When Brandon Hess of Dxcel spanked the bull with a cowboy hat. I have no idea what that action is meant to symbolize. It must be an Iowa thing.
The fiery baked beans (rmb10) from Home Plate. I couldn’t stop eating them. Three heaping bowls. Pity the people who had to sit within six rows of me on a flight the next morning. The pulled pork sandwich (rmb35) was tasty, too.
The Brooklyn Lager (rmb40) and Fighting Cock Bourbon (rmb40). The first is a flavorsome brew that ranks among my favorites in Beijing, the second provides a high-octane kick at 51 percent alcohol. Both help wash down the food.
The patience of emcee Anny “Tex” An when dealing requests to double-ride the bull or to ride it backwards.
Overall, a fun night, and I hope the Hilton makes this a regular event.
I wrote a few months ago that alcohol distributor Dxcel planned to import High West whiskeys from Utah — and now they are here. Brandon Hess of Dxcel says the company has both a “silver” clear whiskey and a far more interesting sounding rye that is a blend of two-year-old and sixteen-year-old whiskeys. He adds that The Bookworm, Amilal, 2F and Home Plate should have both of them in stock tomorrow.
Kro’s Nest will team up with beer distributorproviderallocator guys Duvel Moortgat and delivery service Jinshisong to hold a party at the Sanlitun branch on Saturday night. The doors open at 7 PM, with the first four kegs of beer, including two Vedett White and two Tsing-Tao, and 180 slices of pizza handed out free. Look for a Rumble in the JungleSlug Fest in the Nest between the mascots from Kro’s (a crow, naturally) and Duvel Moortgat (a polar beer, unnaturally, given the beer hails from Belgium).
In other free beer news, Fubar will give away 200 pints of Carlsberg from 8 PM, also on Saturday night, as it (roughly) mark its second birthday. For those who prefer other tipples during the Fu Turns Two party, co-owner Chad Lager says happy hour will go to 11 PM. These events can get sloppy and I’ll be doing my best to keep a safe distance from co-owner Kevin “Sambuca” Zhang.
Also Saturday, Nobu Beijing is celebrating the national holiday with drinks from rmb32 and snacks from mrb32, says chef Oyvind Naesheim. The specials are available at the bar on a first-come, first-served basis.
Finally, Modo turned one yesterday. This is the second venture by Alex Molina and Daniel Urdaneta of Mosto and I have visited quite a bit to try samples from those wine preservation machines on the second level. And for some tasty lunches — try the sea bass with lentil salad and passion fruit sauce.
Among the better things I have tasted this year is the schnapps that the guys at Drei Kronen 1308 distilled from their Oktoberfest beer. (That Oktoberfest beer is good, too.) The schnapps has a nice malty and yeasty aroma, apparently is 35 percent alcohol (but doesn’t taste like it), and is as smooth as pre-2008 Edison Chen.
DK1308 doesn’t sell the schnapps but if you are drinking there, and ask about it, you’re more than likely to find yourself with a shot. By the way, there are two days left with the current promotion, which includes a live band from Germany (7 PM to around midnight) as well as a rmb198 drink deal with a free flow of all four house brews.
France goes va-va-vroom! Customs statistics from the first half of 2011 not only show that France remains in the driver’s seat when it comes to imported bottled wine but also that it increased the lead. And that comes at a time when imports are up 60 percent year on year. Australia keeps second place, but continues to slide, though among The Big Six countries — which also include Spain, Italy, Chile and the United States — it has the highest value per case. More details here.
Grace to say screw it? There is a good chance Grace Vineyard in Ningxia, often considered to be the China wine success story of the past decade, will use screw caps for part of its upcoming vintage. This strikes me as significant given the stature of Grace and the dominance of corkand plastic closures in this country. And it also strikes me as a good idea since many of the corks used in China are crappy, few people here know how to use a corkscrew, and any wine worth drinking should, with few exceptions, be imbibed young. More here.
English writer vs Chinese investment bankers. I’ve restarted China Wine Press. The idea? “All the wine world’s a stage and China keeps getting bigger roles. China Wine Press looks at media coverage of that drama, with each item preceded by an inane comment from me, just to keep things real.” The latest issue looks at a Jancis Robinson column in which she describes giving a lesson to Chinese investment bankers (they swallowed rather than spat their wine!), exports to China from Canada’s Aces Winery and an auction of wine from Chateau Lafite.
A Somewhat Steady China Hand on the Local Bar Scene