Sips & bites: BBC, La Cava, Fubar, XL, Awfully Chocolate, Apothecary, Lafite

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I mentioned that craft beer fans can enjoy themselves throughout the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays as all three Great Leaps will be open for business as usual.

Cocktail fans can also get their fill as BBC will open nightly from 6 PM until at least 2 AM over the holidays. Co-owner Doug Williams says BBC will have special CNY cocktails as well as new products in stock.

And wine fans can check out La Cava de Laoma in Sanlitun Soho. Owner Mariano Larrain says he’ll open throughout the holidays. If you’re on a tight budget, I suggest the Expedicion Carmenere. At 50 kuai per bottle, it’s a good deal.

While Fubar has transformed from speakeasy to speakeasy / live music house, Stadium Dog, which fronts the place, has added chili and baked potatoes to a menu headlined by hot dogs and Two Guys pies. Of interest to Beijing bar history buffs: word is a reunion gig for late nineties Durty Nellie’s regulars Big Airplane, whose name in Chinese elicits giggles, is being planned for mid-May at Fubar. That band is before my time but I hear they had a good beat.

A sign is up for Awfully Chocolate in the basement of Swire Sanlitun Village South. You can find it just across from BHG.

Restaurant and bar XL has received kudos for its half-price Monday night food deal and is planning more specials after Chinese New Year. Word is there will be a lineup of at least a half-dozen wines at rmb100 per bottle.

Nali Patio is home to some of the city’s best spots, including Migas, Mosto, Agua and Niajo, but it has also seen a string of success stories — from Saddle Cantina to Let’s Burger and Let’s Seafood to, most recently, Apothecary — leave over the years. That makes Nali less attractive at a time when the nearby food and beverage scene is increasingly competitive, particularly with the rise of Sanlitun South and Xingfucun Middle Road. Nali is still a good place but it has long had the potential to be a great one. Losing quality tenants, which in turn could easily scare off others, suggests it is getting further from fulfilling that potential and instead closer to increasing irrelevance. Here’s hoping management figures it out because this complex has some creative and hardworking tenants.

Finally, new signage at the former Lafite British Exotic Bar has seen the name shortened simply to Lafite Bar. Makes sense, given British exotic bars are so 2014.

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