Sips & bites | Beer Mania, Jing-A, Pi Bar, Dareen Shawarma, That One Place & more

Been a crazy month with World Baijiu Day (check these new pages for baijiu photos, quotes and terms, and this post re Australian barrel-aged baijiu) and a bunch of work deadlines. Plus, I just don’t get out as much. Anyway, some stuff going on in my neighborhood and beyond.

Beer Mania | Just downstairs from me and among the oldest bars in the area, Beer Mania got gutted a few weeks ago. Let’s be honest: this place wasn’t the same after the departure of Thierry de Dobbeleer, whose focus on quality Belgian beer helped make the bar a worthy destination. The once high-value happy hour degraded as Belgian draft options went unreplenished and were replaced with half-ass alternatives. And so on. Anyway, this space will become a hotpot restaurant with a beer lineup that includes Boxing Cat, said to be funding the renovations. That’s no surprise given all the Boxing Cat paraphernalia showing up the past few months.

Pi Bar | My favorite new bar of the summer finally held its launch party and any worries by the owners that no one would show up were quickly quashed as way too many people made their way to this isolated bar near a huge apartment complex full of those Beijing types who figure if they’re not having fun no one else should and maybe just maybe they should call the police. It took much effort by the owners to move everyone inside but no authorities showed, the drinks flowed, and more people went through the door that day than in any given week in Pi Bar’s three-month history though it was elbow to elbow for much of the night. I had a good time. Also, Pi Bar started a Saturday night happy hour from 9 PM, with mixers such as Rum Coke, Gin Tonic et al for 40 kuai.

Jing-A | Word is the new taproom near Dongsi station will officially open this Friday. Everything seemed pretty much in order during a test run two days ago, with a dozen-plus beers on offer. I’m told it’s “invite only” at the moment until everything is perfectly tuned. This place evokes the former 1949: The Hidden City branch, with three-sided bar, high ceilings, seating out front, etc though it feels a bit airier. Look for this gentrifying area of town to add more restaurants and bars, with Susu and Capital Spirits already in place, and lots of construction going on nearby.

Pachapapi, The Brickyard, Jing-A | Speaking of Jing-A, it was one of three Beijing venues celebrating World Baijiu Day this year. If you missed the festivities, there is still time to try some creative baijiu concoctions.

The refreshing effervescent fruity baijiu cocktail El Brujo is a regular on the Pachapapi menu. Baijiu, blood orange soda, homemade fruit shrubs: it’s delicious. Best time to try this and the Pisco-baijiu cocktail is during that superb buy one, get one free rolls deal on Tuesdays. | You can also still try Qu Brew, made by Jing-A with ‘qu’, the fermentation agent for baijiu. This one is Belgian Farmhouse ale style with lots of tangerine character. It’s available at the Xingfucun Road branch. | And The Brickyard at Mutianyu made deep-fried baijiu ice cream this year. While that isn’t on the regular menu, Brickyard’s baijiu spritzers and its spiked coffee are available.

Pebbles | This Mexican restaurant keeps rocking with every new menu. The latest includes regional dishes paired with explanations of exactly what’s going into your mouth. One highlight: the tlayudas, thin crispy 12-inch tortillas with a bunch of topping options, that hail from Oaxaca. Try them! Also, Fridays mean buy one, get one free margaritas at Pebbles.

Hatsune | This Japanese favorite turned 18 with a party that featured free-flow sushi and booze: sake, Koji Red Ale, whisky and more. I heard Rick Astley tunes while drinking Hiroshima gin. Check that off the list! About 200 people crammed into the Taikooli branch of Hatsune for an evening of revelry.

Also Dareen Shawarma The Topwin shop closed a couple of months ago but these guys have set up in Sanlitun Soho next door. Find them on the B1 level of Building 6, in Foodie Court, at the far end. | That One Place The former Frost has reopened with a new look, plus everything from milkshakes and coffee to cocktails and craft beer. And about a dozen dishes. | Cafe de la Poste This Beixinqiao veteran endured the summer-long street ‘beautification’ in that area before finally closing earlier this month for renovations. The new place is looking good and should soon reopen.

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