Flashback Photos | Bomb Shelter Bar, Purple Haze III, The Courtyard & Palette Vino in 2009

Bomb Shelter Bar

By Jim Boyce | This site turns ten this year and I am posting a series of “blast from the past” pic posts. As you will quickly notice, I’m not a professional photographer, but these shots do capture the bar and restaurant scene as I saw it. This post covers four places from 2009:

  • Bomb Shelter Bar under Red Capital Residence is a nod to a bygone era with its knickknacks, gas masks, communications equipment and movie screenings. Getting to the main area means descending a cramped “staircase” of roughly carved steps and following a low passage, and is not for the claustrophobic. At one time, Bomb Shelther featured cocktails with names like Lin Biao’s Crash and Black Cat, White Cat. We also, for reasons I no longer remember, once held an Ontario vs Vermont maple syrup tasting here, with Canada crushing its foe something like 16 votes to 3.
  • The third Purple Haze was just meters from Bomb Shelter, with the original close to Workers Gymnasium and now operating as Purple Isle and the second branch at China View, just across from Workers Stadium. This third venue had that comfy hutong vibe, with a main dining area and private rooms, and a glass roof with nice views of the trees.
  • Restaurant The Courtyard near the Forbidden City was once Beijing’s go-to place for fine Western dining and a favorite recommendation of hotel concierges. By 2009, the dining scene had become more competitive and, in a few years, Brian McKenna would take over the space and then, after he left, it would open as TRB Bites.
  • Beijing is a dessert when it comes to wine bars and Palette Vino was one of its best oases. The hutong location, rustic decor, tasty food and spotless toilets were all welcome as were the savvy wine picks by owner John Gai. (If memory serves, Gai was the first manager of The Courtyard.) These photos are from a tasting for Silver Heights, which is distributed by Torres China and widely seen as making some of China’s best wines but was then largely unknown.

More photo flashbacks here.

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