Last Paul: Ocean Grounds changes its bar mix

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Ocean Grounds* has been one of my go-to cocktail joints for the past six months due to its proximity, nice clientele and quality beverages. During my time in Beijing, I have often gravitated toward relatively small and quirky places with good cocktails — First Cafe, Midnight Cafe, Er, Ichikura, Mao Mao Chong and Twilight are a few examples — and Ocean Grounds fit the mold. Here we had a place that arguably offered the city’s best coffee by day and then turned into a bar that did the same for cocktails by night.

That’s why it’s sad news that the man behind the night shift, bartender Paul Hsu, won’t be around on a daily basis. Word is he’s still an investor, and he’ll still give input, but he won’t be the guy regularly behind the bar. It feels a bit like a small-market NBA teams losing its best player. Isn’t that why everyone came to the games in the first place? What I liked most was I could take anyone, from first-time Beijing visitors to my grumpy “why would I drink cocktails in a coffee shop!?” friends to my vodka-Red Bull sipping buddy Chunky and Hsu would figure out the drinks that made them all happy. He was basically hitting shots from all over the court.

That’s not to say the guys behind the bar aren’t nice: I stopped by about a week ago and Feyman and Lee were both friendly. It’s just there is a lot of competition within a few hundred meters, whether we are talking George’s or Miles or Parlor or Maitail or BBC or any number of places, and Hsu helped attract patrons. It’ll be up to those guys now to keep Ocean Grounds in the game.

Also of note: Ocean Grounds now has happy hours from 6 PM to 9 PM, with rmb30 beers, rmb35 wine, rmb40 well drinks and select whiskey at rmb50.

* I know there are lots of nice cocktail bars around but, over the past year or so, I have gravitated toward Ocean Grounds, George’s Bar, an old favorite, Janes & Hooch, notably for the happy hour, and BBC, when I’m looking for something a bit different.

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