By Jim Boyce | In another Beijing bar era, some seven years ago, a most unexpected and most excellent watering hole appeared in our fair city. It was part of a steakhouse called Flamme in Sanlitun Village South, and while beef might have been the focus, this place soon became known for quality booze.
Not only did Flamme have a superb happy hour (think two tasty martinis garnished with big blue cheese-stuffed olives for 60 kuai) but also delicious house drinks like the Passionate Englishmen, with a half passion fruit set on top like a shucked oyster, that soon become the favorites of many. Paul Mathew was the brains behind the menu and never shied from experiments, even indulging one blogger’s request for umami-themed drinks on one occasion and, on another, to create a cocktail called Titanic II. Look at the artwork on that garnish!
When Ethan Liu joined the team, Flamme had a potent one-two punch behind the bar. What made them so good is that they were so darn nice. There were no upturned noses if someone ordered a Cosmo and the team could also shift gears to look after the most knowledgeable customer. I have good memories of them, of Alice, Jeff, Carrie and other Flamme team members, and of the nights I spent enjoying cocktails with friends or watching Flamme regular K Square take advantage of the Dom Perignon deal.
This is a long way of getting to my point: Word is that Mathew will fly in this week from London, where he oversees a trio of bars: The Hide, The Arbitrager, and Demon, Wise & Parters. And that Liu, a brand ambassador who is racking up an incredible number of air miles, will also be in town. And they they will both be behind the bar at D Lounge on Wednesday night. I’m still waiting to hear the exact time but I think it’s safe to say you’ll find them there after 8 PM.