the hockey bar irish volunteer beijing china

Hockey Bar in Beijing: George Smith on the official opening party, The Penalty Box, hip Czechs & more

The puck drops on The Hockey Bar this Saturday night as Beijing gets its first drinking hole dedicated to The Best Game You Can Name. I shot a bunch of questions at George Smith, who is also involved in the pub Irish Volunteer next door, and he smothered them Olaf Kolzig-style (he’s a Washington Capitals fan). Let’s break down the action, period by period.


The Irish Volunteer has a long association with hockey, whether as a hangout for coaches and players, a spot to watch the NHL playoffs or the Olympics, or as host of the after party for the recent Hockey Night in Beijing. How did an Irish pub get so tied up with this sport?

One of the first guys I met when I started coming to Beijing was Ray Plummer. He pretty much started and grew hockey here. When I moved here my two boys played hockey and I coached. They moved up to the adult league when they were 15 and I became friends with the great bunch of guys and ladies involved. The IV sponsored a lot of teams and tournaments and we just became the hockey hangout.

Why open The Hockey Bar now? Rumor is you are sick of a bunch of sweaty guys with helmet hair cramping the style of The Irish Volunteer and it’s high-falutin’ clientele. True?

You pretty much described the hockey crowed except there are equally sweaty ladies! I was helping my good friend Curtis Dracz who wanted to start a hockey bar and was the organizer of Hockey Night in Beijing and the Houhai Pond Hockey Tournament. The space next door opened up and we “checked” it out and said why not. The bars will operate together and run off the same kitchen.

Will there be an area of the bar called The Penalty Box for unruly drinkers, sloppy eaters and people who cheer for the Vancouver Canucks?

The back room will be The Penalty Box. It will have the most comfortable seating in the rink, but patrons may be forced to drink “penalty shots”!


How many people will The Hockey Bar seat? And how? Bar stools? Booths? Dining tables? Kansas City Scouts beanbag chairs?

The front section will be all high chairs, upholstered in league hockey jerseys, and stools. It will seat around 20 and stand more. The Penalty Box at the back has a large couch and two big chairs and will have a couple of high tables and chairs. The windows in The Hockey Bar have been changed to be the same as the Irish Volunteer, including seating to watch the world and buses go by.

What kind of foods and beverages can customers expect at The Hockey Bar?

We will have pretty much the same menu as the Irish Volunteer including the famous Canadian Pizza and Canadian Breakfast. We will add poutine and, of course, all that can be washed down with cold Moosehead pale ale or lager.

Will there be table hockey? Please tell me there will be table hockey.

The hockey table game is on its way to compliment the two large screen TVs showing live hockey and other sports. It will be located in The Penalty Box to give the bad boys something to do while they serve time.


The Hockey Bar officially opens Saturday night. What time is the party? And what will be going on?

The Hockey Bar will officially open with a ceremonial puck drop on the front porch at 6:30 PM, followed by a toast and a round of cheap shots! We will have some music and a variety of drink specials — “Hip Czech and Belgium beers and cider for 25 rmb, Jaromir Jaegermeister shots and other cheap shots, Tsingdao at 10 rmb, bottles of house wine for 80 rmb and premium wine bottles for 100 rmb.

These will go along with the All-Day Happy Hours we will hold for three periods — Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A great chance to meet the hockey community.

Are you going to play The Hockey Song by Stompin’ Tom Connors?

For sure and I will gladly sing along!!


Who will win the Stanley Cup this year? And who’s your very early pick for next year?

I am going with the Bruins beating Chicago in the finals. And next year…who else…The Caps!