- Two guys, one bull.
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 crowd modest 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
distributor provider allocator 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 Jungle Slug 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.
A posse of The Beijing Hilton, nearby restaurant Home Plate BBQ and alcohol distributor Dxcel are saddling up for the “Zeta Rodeo” this Saturday. The Hilton will provide the venue (Zeta Bar), country music and — get your chaps out — a mechanical bull, says Simon Amos. As for food, Seth Grossman of Home Plate says he and chef Adam Murray will be slapping together sandwiches and sides, including pulled pork, brisket, and baked beans. And Simon Pendergast of Dxcel says the drink lineup includes Fighting Cock Bourbon and beers from American outfits Dead Guy, Saranac, and Brooklyn.Brisket and Bourbon sound good but I think I’ll leave the bull-riding to others…
Entry is rmb50, with the rodeo from 8 PM to 10 PM, and the party moseying on to the wee hours of the morning. More details below…
There will be plenty of popping and pouring on Saturday afternoon as two major wine tastings are on the schedule.
Torres China will hold its fifth annual Taste of the Nations from 2 PM to 5 PM at Xu Xian Restaurant on Workers Stadium grounds. Tickets are rmb228 and get you a free flow of 150 wines from a dozen countries, including some of the best in China — Grace Vineyard and Silver Heights. This is one of my favorite annual events both because Torres cracks open some of its better stuff (I tend toward the Australian table with its dozen-plus brands, including Henschke, Bass Philip and Grosset) and because it is well organized and includes handouts with plenty of info on the wines. Tickets are rmb208 in advance. Contact Maggie Wang at 5165-5519, extension 284 / maggie.wang (at) everwines.com.
Also on Saturday is the second annual Tri-Nations Wine Expo from 1 PM to 5 PM at Scarlett Blue in Solana. Tickets are rmb250 and get you access to 100 wines from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, distributed by Gelipu. Tickets are rmb150 if you email Garry Anderson at AustralianWineClub (at) gmail.com by close of business tomorrow.
The first drink for every customer 0n opening night last Friday was free. (I had a pint of Kilkenny.) The bartender was friendly and spoke English. (She said she once worked at The Hidden Tree on old Sanlitun South Street.) And the long and narrow layout was put to good use. (It is easy to grab a seat at the bar or the tables opposite and to maneuver between them.) I had low expectations going into The James Joyce, a new Irish bar in the former Swensen’s on Jindong Street, but these three things showed a pub with promise.
Not that the place doesn’t have issues. There was a single drinks menu consisting of several sheets stapled together and no food is yet available. Aside from the bartender, the employees seemed shy and unsure. (Also, I’m not sure where the employees ended and other observers — owners? relatives of owners? relatives of employees? — began. Quite a few people didn’t fit the category of ”employee” or “customer”. And one of them decided to test the sound system a few dozen times during operating hours.) And the place still isn’t fully decorated and thus feels unfinished.
People make a place like this and if The James Joyce can get its staff up to speed, provide good drinks specials (regular prices include draft Guinness at rmb50 and Yanjing at rmb25) and draw even a modestly sized crowd, it will be cozy enough. Its proximity to International Wonderland and other residential areas, and to Sanlitun, give it a fighting chance, not to mention that it is beside…
Hua Zai’s Chuanr Bar, which also opened last week. Light fixtures in place of long exposed fluorescent tubes, a polished cement floor, and so on help make this more than the typical garish feeding station. There is an extensive menu, with more than 50 items, from BBQ to oysters to Sichuan dishes. Don’t expect the place to win any restaurant of the year awards — the food is OK: the best dish I had was stringy tofu with greens — though it will be a good retreat for those full of beer but famished in the wee hours since since Chuanr Bar is open 24 hours. Prices include rmb25 for fried chicken nuggets, rmb12 for the tofu salad, rmb6 for a pair of chicken wings and rmb3 for lamb chuanr. A bottle of Vedett is rmb30 and Duvel is rmb35, with big bottles of local beer also available. Those who want it cheaper, and more options, can always go to Chuanr Bar’s sibling establishment around the corner — Heaven Supermarket.