This is a fun story. Remember Press Release, the quirky speakeasy behind a hidden door in a Topwin B1 restaurant, with its quirky slate of cocktails that featured wine, including an intriguing mix of peanut butter-infused Bourbon served over crushed ice topped with Sangiovese and mint, the infusions made using a sous vide machine set on the bar? Remember that place?
Press Release didn’t last long, about 18 months, but it was a solid go from day one. (See my post Bernays Sauce for more.)
Then owner / bartender Lynn Lin aka Issey Lin followed her plan to move to Beirut and open a bar with partner and noted mixologist Jad Ballout. They called it Electric Bing Sutt. They billed it as a “funky & neon dazzled Asian Middle Eastern all day bar in the heart of Beirut.” And, this is the fun part, just 13 months after Press Release closed, they were named to the World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2019, taking number 46. Electric Bing Sutt also took the title of Best Bar in Africa and the Middle East. (Unfortunately, no Beijing bars made the top 50.)
I’m not overly big on awards, “top [whatever]” lists and so on, but this is a good story. And a reminder that if you like a bar, enjoy it while you can, because you just never know when it’s going to close due to a government crackdown or landlord problems or because the owner decided to move to another city in another country to open another bar.
This also reminds me I really need to update by Beijing Bar & Restaurant Diaspora series.
Here’s the World’s 50 Best Bars entry for Electric Bing Sutt:
Combining two vastly diverse Asian cultures, Electric Bing Sutt is an unconventional and hip Asian/Middle Eastern all-day bar in Beirut. Inviting from the roadside, this venue opens into a funky, dazzlingly neon interior with an open window façade on to the street and furnished with retro foldable chairs and Chinese porcelain stools. This is full immersion into global bar scene subculture, with signature cocktails and Asian-based, locally fused food items served by fun-loving, easygoing bartenders. Electric Bing Sutt – The Best Bar in Africa and the Middle East, sponsored by Torres Brandy – is the brainchild of globally awarded bartending mixologist Jad Ballout (formerly of Central Station) and Chinese spouse Lynn Lin, who prepares the authentic, mouthwatering food found nowhere else in Beirut. Complementing that offering, the cocktails are concocted using advanced culinary techniques, aromatic distillations and complex infusions. Specialities include drinks with an Asian twist, such as a popcorn and pandan-twisted Manhattan, a Thai Tom Yum Gong soup cocktail, a sake Aperol Spritz and even a Vermouth Tonic with numbing sichuan pepper.
And for old time’s sake, here are a few photos from Press Release: