Thursday, September 04, 2008

Bar birthdays

Congratulations to the 12 Sq M Bar on Nanluoguxiang, which passed its 1st anniversary yesterday.

I happened to have been tipped off about this imminent celebration at the start of the week by the lads who run Ned's, a new Australian bar a bit further up the street. It seems there's quite a little Australian quarter establishing itself at that south end of NLG; I hadn't realised on my handful of previous trips to 12 Sq M, but apparently it's a side project of a Greek Australian businessman [I stand corrected: Mr K tells me his ancestry is Hungarian - not sure how that works with his decidedly Greek surname! And he's only a tour-leader-turned-office-manager with the travel company, not the head honcho...] who heads up an adventure travel company (the charming Chinese lady who usually tends the bar there is his wife) - so, between his employees and the inevitable 'Aussie mafia' he's got a good ready-made core clientele. Not that they can cope with too many customers at once. The bar's name is straightfowardly descriptive: they have only 12 square metres of space (and probably over a third of that is taken up by the fairly large bar). They proudly boast of being "Beijing's smallest bar", and jealously compare the floorspace of any new bar openings in the 'postage stamp' bracket (the similarly diminutive Ned's is, they assure me, at least a couple of square metres larger - even without their tiny [and not currently in use] upper floor). Their previous attendance record (inside, at least; they can spill over into the street on a really good night) was 25, set on Australia Day last January. They were hoping to break that on Wednesday night, although it was still a bit quiet when I looked in mid-evening. I'll have to check back in a day or so and see if they made it. I figure they could probably squeeze in 30 or so, at a push.

Perhaps I'll offer a fuller review at another time. I've long had the beginnings of a soft spot for the place. The service is friendly, the prices are reasonable, and they have a much better than average selection of imported beers. The crampedness of the space is winningly cosy, and - unlike almost all the other bars on that street (which are either coffee-shop twee or industrial-minimalist sleazy) - it is a proper bar: dark wood, low lighting, bar stools. Unfortunately, they don't often seem to have many customers.

And the place is at the wrong end of the street for me: I rarely venture that far south.

However, with the plethora of new bars that have opened up down there this year, I am tempted to revive my oft-discussed, oft-postponed plan for a comprehensive Nanluoguxiang Bar Crawl someday soon........

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