Bar veteran Bill Isler plans to open a baijiu-themed venue in Beijing next month. Isler was a fixture on the scene for years — best-known for his time as a co-owner of Kokomo, still home to many a raucous night and during the Olympics one of the busiest and best venues in town — before leaving to join the food sector. He will return by focusing on China’s — and the world’s — top-selling spirit.
Isler plans to start his drinks menu with 30 to 50 baijius and build it from there. He will include multiple “flight” options, so that patrons can compare and contrast the different brands and styles.
“This is the best way to introduce baijiu to people who don’t know much about it,” he says.
Patrons can also expect baijiu-based cocktails, some regional beers and perhaps even a few samples from Isler’s home still.
The venue will be in the hutongs south of Ghost Street, measure about 25 square meters and, if renovations go as planned, will “soft open” in about a month. I’ll update as I get more details.
Interestingly enough, the last two times I have run into Isler have involved baijiu: once when Derek Sandhaus gave a talk during The Bookworm Literary Festival about his book Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits and once when, after sampling some wine at La Cava we ended up trying a bunch of baijiu cocktails at Fubar, with the sour being my favorite. Given Isler’s interest in baijiu, and his background as a bartender, it will be interesting to see that first menu.
(Hat tip: DS)