Sips & bites: Salt turning four, Paddy’s marking 150, Dead Guy at Bang! Bang!,Oliver at Pudao Wines

Is there a better-named bar in Beijing than Bang! Bang! to serve Dead Guy? It joins Kro’s Nest (Xiaoyun Road branch) and Grinders in stocking this beer.

As part of a promotional tour for the Chinese-language edition of his Australian Wine Annual, writer Jeremy Oliver will be at Pudao Wines from 3 PM to 5 PM on Saturday for a free tasting of eight Australian wines from d’Arenberg, Yalumba, Grosset, Hewitson, Moss Wood, Rockford, De Bortoli and Henschke.

Karl Long of Paddy O’Shea’s marks his 150th turn as quiz master on Wednesday night. He says attendees can expect special rounds, drinks and prices. Paddy’s will soon celebrate its fourth birthday, with the bash slated for December 9.

Last but not least, the Salt birthday bash last December ranked among the best parties I attended all year. This year’s bash is set for Thursday, with free-flow drinks and snacks from 7 PM to 10 PM and ticket proceeds going to UNICEF. Those tickets are rmb300 at the door (RSVP at 6437-8457 / info@saltrestaurantbeijing.com) or rmb250 ahead of time at Terra, Zest or Salt. (Given his dance interpretation of C+C Music Factory last year, there will be great pressure on Gordon Kutil of The Saddle to outdo that performance. Will he let the music take his soul, will he let the rhythm move him? That is the question.)

Lounge act: Vics to open in former Klubb Rouge space

Word is Vics Lounge in China View will officially open on December 16 after several private warm-up parties over the next few weeks, although tonight I found  — after spotting the new sign from ground level and heading to floor 27 — the doors open. Expect a very different feel from the former Klubb Rouge, which my memory associates with 1930s Shanghai-style posters (though the models wore considerably less), candy apple red, and poor marketing.

The “public” areas of Vics Lounge offer dimmer lighting and a more subdued though still modern decor — from dark paneling, thick-padded sofas and walls covered with small wood tiles of many shapes, colors and depths upstairs to a prominent semi-circle bar, large open space, and funky chandeliers on the main floorAnd there are those superb views of Workers Stadium and its surroundings.

At the north end, a sprawling upstairs private room fits with the vibe although it is flashier with its crystal accents and plush seating — it feels like it could morph from upscale afternoon teatime to after-work cocktail party to all-night whiskey and wine session. This area has a room for cigar smokers as well as private toilets with enough space for a threesome (no idea why I wrote that but just saying).

Re drinks, forget the [fill in the big-name Scotch] and green tea. The menu has good whiskey options (I saw Talisker 10 at rmb60), over a dozen beers, including Liefmann’s, Newcastle and Chti (all rmb50), and more. And the staff, including Alton (the project manager?), who spotted me wandering about and offered a tour, and Johnny, the manager, were friendly and professional.

This isn’t my type of hangout but I was impressed — from the decor to the menu — and look forward to seeing how well it works in practice. My guess: very.

Note: I have been calling the place Vics Lounge but I saw a sign for “Vics+, or was it “V+“, so one of those might be the actual name. I’ll check on this…

See also: Somebody give me a smoke: The pre-openings of Klubb Rouge, China Doll

Sips & Bites: Peninsula bans shark’s fin, plus Wine Mania, Kro’s Nest, Drive-Thru, Room, Tonton & Tata

I know where we’re staying next vacation! (pic: cartoonscrapbook.com)

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The Peninsula Hotel chain will stop serving shark’s fin from January 1, save for events previously booked. In a press release, CEO K.M. Kwok of parent company Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels states: “As Asia’s oldest hotel company, we also hope that our decision will inspire other hospitality companies to do the same and that our industry will play a role in helping to preserve the bio-diversity of our oceans.” Steven Schwankert of Beijing-based scuba-diving company SinoScuba has been encouraging Beijing restaurants to drop shark’s fin for some time and lauded the move. He added: “If THE Asian hotel chain is willing to do this, what is anyone else’s reason for not doing so?”

Beer Mania will become a blend of wine mania and Beatlemania tonight. Starting at 6 PM, this Sanlitun South venue will have a tasting of over a dozen wines from distributor La Caumette, with snacks from new Sanlitun Soho bakery Amandine. At 9:30 PM, The Beijing Beatles will make their first visit since Beer Mania’s opening party. There will be a rmb20 deal on Sangria and wine during the night. (I might also have a pint of my current favorite: draft Chimay Red.)

Speaking of beer, the Xiao Yun Road branch of Kro’s Nest is the latest to get draft Dead Guy. A pint is rmb55 — or buy two and get one free during happy hour.

Ryan Johnston, part of the team that opened Shuangjing’s The Brick and later sold it to current owner Lee Mitchell, has a new project in the works: The Drive-Thru. The shop will include imported wine and beer for carry-out or delivery as well as everything from spices to scarves. Look for it to open just after the New Year.

Room Beijing will host a dinner on Sunday, December 4 to mark the upcoming Chinese edition of Jeremy Oliver’s 2012 Australian Wine Annual. Chef Brian McKenna is putting together the menu while Oliver will introduce the wines, which include labels like Yarrabank, Mount Langi, Tyrell, Yering Station, Henschke, Vasse Felix and Noble One, provided by local distributors The Wine Republic and Torres China. The five-course meal is rmb888 per person. RSVP at grm (at) room-beijing.com.

Finally, Alsace restaurant Tonton & Tata has closed in the B1 level of Sanlitun Soho. The equipment and furniture was being removed today…

Must Tries Series: Will Yorke of The Vineyard Cafe

Welcome to part thirty-two of the Must Tries Series, where I ask people working in the Beijing bar and restaurant business for the top picks from their menus. This time around we have Will Yorke from The Vineyard Cafe. Yorke is working on another yet-to-be-named establishment nearby, one that will focus primarily on English comfort food and beer, and hopes to have it open this weekend. For now, here are his picks.

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What is the “must try” food at The Vineyard Cafe?

Mediterranean Pizza: Pretty conservative name but about eight years ago I put roasted aubergine and courgette slices, feta, basil pesto, mozzarella and salami (pepperoni) on a thin crust pizza base with tomato sauce and I still love it, especially with Tabasco sauce.

What is the “must try” drink at The Vineyard Cafe?

We have been doing cocktail training at the Vineyard Café for the last few Mondays and someone asked about a kamikaze shot. We made one to see what is was about and discovered it was better as a cocktail in a martini glass, and there is a nice lime presence with the vodka, fresh lime juice, Cointreau, and preserved lime juice mixed on ice. I think it is perfect to prevent scurvy. So much so that considering we thought the name kamikaze was really a crap name for a drink, and considering my training session on the treatment of scurvy in British naval recruits in 18th century Britain, which the staff attended with rapture, we decided to rechristen the drink “Limey Lady”.

What is the “must try” wine at The Vineyard Cafe?

Got in a nice new Albarino – very fresh. It’s like sticking your tongue in the Atlantic while facing a north-westerly breeze.

What are three “must try” items at other venues in Beijing?

1. On my way home there is a Beijing Lu Zhu 卤煮 place which also does good La Mian 拉面 and 刀削面 Dao Xiao Mian (the knife cut noodles.) I am a big fan of Dao Xiao Mian. The vibe is interesting as it is a wide mix of mainly Beijing residents ranging from couples coming in to get to know each other over a bowl of soy sauce stewed inner bits and blue uniformed taxi drivers with the name of their company stitched on the chest thinning their blood with the unpeeled garlic bulbs on the table amongst the metal pot of chilly and jug of vinegar. 141 Bei Si Da Jie.

2. I really don’t get out much, but for a “Sichuan cuisine a’ la Beijing” option the No. 1 Wang Jing courtyard is always interesting. The 水煮鱼 fish in oil must have better options in the city, but in the warm period it is a place which is interesting because it is a slice of China embedded by a slip road on the east 5th ring road.

3. Many Monday evenings we are at our friend Toshi’s place “Suzumei”. I never used to eat raw fish before here, but I was enlightened here and their sashimi can be very satisfying for an essential oils fix.

Turkey in Beijing: Includes My Short History of Thanksgiving

It’s a turkey! With laces! (Get it?) (pic: wallpapers.pics365web.net)

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More than one hundred years ago, The Pilgrims drank all the ice tea in Boston Garden and began the American Revolution against the English Premier League led by Queen Victoria Beckham I (the original Victoria, not the one married to affaminate soccer guy). After months of fighting at Trafalger Square, Applematics and Ewah Jima, The Pilgrims plus their partners The Indians, who are named after a baseball team in Cleveland of all things (!), beat the English and made the United States of America. The Founder Fathers chose Alicia Scott Keyes to write the Star Spangul Banner and said every November that all people should eat a turkey — maybe there was a special on birds back then at Yee Olde Wall Mart, ha ha. Now Americans everywhere do this, even in China, such as Joseph Stillwell (saw it on Discovery Channel), Stephen Marberry and Da Shan. By the way, my friend Pong  says Da Shan should call himself Da Niao today, because that means Big Bird, like a turkey, ha ha…*

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OK, now that the contrasting effects of three coffees and a double-shot of Nyquill have dissipated, here a few places to get some turkey today — I basically combed through my email to get these. Sorry for the lateness — busy, busy of late.

NOLA gives you two options — eat in the restaurant or do a takeaway turkey — today, tomorrow and Saturday. RSVP required. Call 8563-6215. (By the way, Brandon Trowbridge says the affiliated Cookies Cookie Shop will provide free shipping through November 27. Use the code TRKYCC at www.cookiescookieshop.com.)

Salt still has seats left for its second sitting tonight — 8:30 PM. The five-course meal (rmb368) includes three appetizers, including one with roast pumpkin and pine nut foam, ginger, pears and more, three mains options — roast turkey, salmon or scallop, red wine and mushroom risotto, and a choice of desserts, including roast apple tart with walnut ice cream. RSVP at 6437-8457.

Maison Boulud has a turkey dinner for rmb561 from 6 PM to 10 PM. RSVP with Nicolas at nicolas.socquet@maisonboulud.

And Cheese and Wine is recommending Camille Giroud Pinot Noir 2007 and Chateau Cambon La Pelouze Haut-Medoc 2006 with your roast turkey.

I’m feeling pretty lazy so this might be a Turkey Reuben might at Union Bar & Grille. With a side of cranberry vodkas…

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* Please blame any inaccuracies in the above history to the Canadian school system.