Off to our final destination for the evening – Fubar. The Workers Stadium in Beijing is a 65,000 person stadium in Beijing, just next to Sanlitun. BotF attended a game between Beijing Gou’an and the Newcastle Jets last year. The Worker’s Stadium area, known as Gongti, is quite distinct from Sanlitun and has a array of bars, clubs and restaurants in or around it. If only there was this sort of thing happening at Sydney’s Olympic stadium.
Fubar is in the stadium and accessible via a viable hotdog shop called Stadium Dog (see first photo). You walk past the serving counter, and are confronted by a grey brick wall (see second photo). Press the little button and you a heaving, pumping bar with DJ, two levels and plenty of noise. Eric had hit the jackpot. He pointed out the owner – an American – who I have to say has one of the more distinctive chrome domes I’ve ever seen (3rd photo). Tony and I ordered Snakebites – Beer, Cider and Cassis (photo 4), whilst Eric generously ordered another cocktail to ensure that the Cantina has yet another souvenir (photo 5).
I didn’t notice the cassis at the bottom of the glass and my first sip was ergh sweet, but once stirred vigorously, the snakebite went down a treat.
Overall, Fubar was the el primo bar of the evening. There’s plenty more of these places in Gong Ti and Sanlitun. BotF looks forward to the next meeting of the January 2009 Beijing Collective.
With the January 2009 Beijing Collective now starving, Eric made the suggestion of The Apothecary. This is a type of place not usually frequented by BotF in the company of only male friends. Far too classy and cocktail focussed, however, it all turned out well. The only seats available were on the corner of the bar right opposite where the cocktail barman was in full cry. We ordered the fanciest beer on the menu.
Red Seal Ale is produced by the North Coast Brewing Company, which modestly boasts that it is “Home to the best beers in this world…or any other”. Their beers are good, and Red Seal Ale is a great example of an Amber Ale – great colour, very hoppy without an IPA intensity.
We could not be drawn away from the show the cocktail man was putting on. We perused his rack of little extras eg Vanilla Chilli or, as photographed, Sichuan Peppercorn Lime Bitters and watched him put about 8 ingredients into a drink. Plenty of flair and showmanship being displayed. We ordered one of whatever he had just made and received something that tasted like the world’s most intense liquid Jaffa – and that is a good thing.
Bring your wallet with you, but the Apothecary would be worth a visit with the missus for a pre or post dinner libation. The food was fine – but a little on the small side, given our state.
Sanlitun is a section of Beijing famed for its bars, restaurants, night clubs and shopping.
The January 2009 Beijing collective continued its crawl through Sanlitun’s streets. By 8pm it is getting pretty busy, as high school students join the throng. At 10pm the streests are packed and at 12pm the clubbers take over. It can be absolute crush in summer and there’s at least 10 bars with outdoor seating.
We decided to try a bar that had only been open a week – the First Floor bar. In Beijing, the First Floor bar is actually the Ground Floor. A big open space greeted us and the usual array of European tap beer and a pretty eclectic range of British and Euro bottles was presented. We went with the Happy Hour option of Kilkenny or Stella and viewed the surrounds. Wasn’t packed enough to be on fire, but nonetheless you could see this becoming a popular place. Not enough tellies for mine – but does the job.
We were getting peckish and foolishly eschewed the sizzling sticks on the street and tried to get a spot at Saddle Cantina. A long standing fixture in Sanlitun – seemingly permanently open for a Mexican feed, Margarita or Corona. Great outdoor space – but absolutely packed. Note to self – don’t make the same mistakes. Grab the sizzling stick or book.
After Beer Mania, BotF went to the next port of call on his Friday night pub crawl and to meet up with the January 2009 Beijing collective. Tony from Toowoomba, a cotton trader, Eric from Illinois, a lawyer, and BotF, gardening leave, all arrived in Beijing in January 2009. As well as this date in common, they all love a beer and it had been 10 months since their last beer together.
First port of call was a bar that none of us had tried before. Exotically listed in the bar books as the Zhongyu Hanging Gardens, it would appear to have been re-named Miss Saigon. Whatever it’s called it is a gem worth finding. You go to an office block called the Swire Building, walk into the lift well and go to Level 7. So far no signage indicates what awaits. Once you get out of the lift, there’s an office to the left and a corridor leading to what looks like a garden to the right. You head down the corridor and suddenly you emerge in a wonderful open air space with garden furniture, fountains, bridges, booths and a bar. The views are awesome and on the clear day we had you could see all the way downtown.
Whilst waiting for the boys I ripped in a quick Carlsberg Chill. Despite the promise of “Scandinavian Inspiration”, it was more like Danish perspiration. Pretty insipid, lowish alcohol and a small bottle. Definitely one produced by the marketing department and not the master brewer. The lads arrived and it was Tsing-taos all round. A much better option.
Zhongyu Hanging Garden is a must for the start of an evening in Sanlitun. Great place on a hot afternoon, and for a few warm-ups, there are few better.
BotF had a marathon day in Beijing on Friday, walking the best part of 15 to 20kms through the alley ways and streets of Beijing. Knocked off a few temples and re-visited a few favourite spots. A wonderful city in which to walk – but gees a bloke can get thirsty. Apart from a light beer (unknowingly ordered) at the Napa Bar (see previous review) – BotF had abstained until the end of his walk.
With 20 minutes to kill before catching up with the January Beijing 2009 collective, BotF thought he’d sneak in a quick one at one of the leading purveyors of Belgian beers in Beijing (of which there is a few) – Beer Mania. Beer Mania features a fridge full of about 40 different Belgian beers, including some that BotF hadn’t heard of until visiting Beer Mania. A Trappiste Rochefort 6 was ordered under the premise that it would be relatively light. Now this is a great beer. Dark, rich cloudy, complex – a beer to really dwell upon. It was absolutely the wrong beer to order when you’ve been walking for 4 hours and all you want to do is rip into an ice-cold beer. What the quest for a bottle top will do to a bloke.
The last photo features a sight which is rarely seen in town now, but was less than 150m where BotF was drinking.