Troy Reiley, known to many as Jorge Arrowsmith (George Harrison) of The Beijing Beatles and to some as DJ Fat Troy Slim, recently got a ticket to ride to his homeland Australia. With his lengthy stint in Beijing finished, at least for now, I asked him to name his all-time favorite watering holes.
“I very rarely drink during the week and consider it more of a means to build up my Dutch courage before climbing on stage in a wig and costume to entertain a crowd. Given my situation as somewhat of a non-discerning drinker I was a little surprised when asked to do my own “top five” list. Normally the venues in Beijing are very generous and allow us musicians to drink unlimited amounts of alcohol on nights during which we perform so I rarely go out of my way to scrutinize a drinking hole prior to a night on the town. Having said that, after any performance it normally takes a little time — no later than until 12 noon the very next day — to wind down from all the excitement so a few late-night venues are normally part of the descent! Here are a few of ‘em!
“I have spent a fair amount of time at this bar at ridiculous hours of the morning. The place is full of characters and I especially love having a squirt with one of the best Irish singers in town (no names mentioned) as we get stuck into a bottle of Baileys or two under the shade of a wallaby skin. It is normally around this time that all the local legends start to roll up including the infamous “pink lady” and of course the owner of this blog!
“The Bloody Marys are my answer to a healthy start to a brand new day — the healthy content being the tomato juice and celery stick of course — and they help wash down a feed of eggs Benedict with an extra side order of bacon. Seriously though, the Den staff deserve a bloody medal for the rubbish they have to put up with most early mornings of the week. The daily happy hours between 5 PM and 10 PM are also the best in town considering you can get a pint of Guinness for only 30 rmb.
“After a night of beer-soaked rock ‘n’ roll, it is always important to have one’s sins forgiven. St. Margaret’s, as the bar in question is more affectionately known, is anything but a place of holy worship! Look, the main thing that draws me to this place into the early hours of the morning is of course the hot dogs!
“Adding to this, once upon a time Tsingtao beers were only 20 rmb, but not any more. Come on Maggie’s, go back to the old days! You guys make enough off the ladies’ mixed drink orders that dig deep into the wallets of punters looking to find a new friend to spend the night with them. How about letting the rest of us enjoy a reasonably priced beer or two as we fill out the numbers into the wee hours of the morning?
“Finally, I would like to add that the DJs always put on a good selection of music and having a live band six nights a week playing four sets of music until 3 or 4 in the morning is certainly a bonus. For me, this is the best place for people watching in Beijing. But leave your camera phones at the door or they will be confiscated!
“This is my favorite billabong in Beijing for sure. Special mention goes out to the sexiest bar manager in Beijing — “Pink”. Test your limits by slamming down 20 shots in less than 20 seconds against Temple’s burger chef who currently holds pole position.
“Clement and the gang have also come up with some fun names for their prized shots (not that you will remember them waking up after a great night spent at this place) including the Super Mario, French Fuck and for a complete wipe-out sensation the Armageddon. Opened by four old pals who have proved themselves on the music scene, Temple is Gulou’s Holy Grail for people into live music.
“When I feel like making a switch of character from Jorge Arrowsmith of the Beijing Beatles to Fat Troy Slim, one of the legends on the Beijing bar scene — cheeky little Kev, who some of you may remember from his days at Durty Nellie’s, when Sanlitun South bar street was the only place to be — is more than obliged to host one of my themed DJ nights. Fubar often put on some great happy hour deals and offer great novelty drinks, including The Buddha (pay a little extra and take this great souvenir home) and the infamous cock shots.
Xinjiang Street Food
“There is nothing I love more than gathering on the side of the road at my local Xinjiang “chuanr” joint off Jinbao street, seated at kindergarten-style plastic tables and chairs with a bunch of mates on a warm balmy night in the middle of summer. For less than the price of two mixed cocktails anywhere else, bottle after bottle of icy cold long-neck Tsingtaos (4 rmb a bottle) are complimented by chuanr, great noodle dishes and Xinjiang-style snacks.
“Also great fun watching the local Chinese in action as they roll up their trouser cuffs and let their Beijing bellies hang loose. Sometimes all hell can break loose, too. It’s best to have your bikes handy for a quick escape when the local fun police turn up to throw everyone off the street in the early hours of the morning due to noise complaints from neighbors.”