When I moved to Beijing in 2004, I lived in a hotel for two months as I worked my ass off, hit the city’s bars and looked for an apartment, pretty much in that order. One night, after viewing yet another potential home, this one in something that I vaguely understood to be a hutong, I found myself lost. I went up and down streets, turned many corners and eventually came across a pub. A friendly guy there explained the art of coffee to me as I sipped the lone beer I could afford and still have taxi fare to return to the hotel.
That was Pass By Bar, on Nanluoguxiang, and I didn’t see one other drinking hole in the area, one now packed with bars and restaurants. And while many places have come and gone due to rezoning or landlord-tenant disputes or owners moving on, Pass By Bar survives and thrives, even after more than a decade.
This afternoon, owner Xiao Bian Er told me he started the bar, “because I live in the hutongs near here and I wanted a place for my friends — for travelers, backpackers, climbers, artists, designers, my friends.” Pass By Bar still serves that purpose after more than a decade and I still enjoy the occasional visit to grab a hutong pizza, to browse through the hundreds of books that have piled up and to chat with friends.
Tonight, starting from 7 PM, Pass By Bar will mark 13 years in business. Pay rmb50 and get a souvenir t-shirt and a beer with a very cool label. And a chance to celebrate one of the legendary places on the bar circuit.