Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Bar tab II

Or... The Return Of The Revenge Of The Son Of My Drinking Habit

April always seems to be one of the busiest months - if not the busiest - in the whole year for going out drinking.

There are a number of likely reasons. Folks from back home in the UK are apt to come and visit during the Easter holidays. The music scene emerges properly from its Chunjie hibernation period, with album launches and warm-up gigs for the May Holiday festivals and what-not. New bars start opening up in time for the busy summer season. The weather is (usually) just starting to get nice - yet work still hasn't really picked up from the winter doldrums, so I don't have to worry too much about early morning starts the next day. Yep, if I'd kept records of these things, I suspect they would indicate that April has pretty regularly been my hardest-drinking month.

But this month just past really was a doozie.

I find I went to Salud 5 or 6 times (mostly for the Wednesday night music), Jianghu 3 times (always for music), and 2 Kolegas once (for the first time in ages - the relaunch of favourite blues-rockers Black Cat Bone made it worth giving the place another chance, after a pretty consistently dismal showing for gigs over the last year or so). I also went to a speaker event at The Bookworm for the first time in some months, to Paddy O'Shea's a couple of times for big football matches in the English Premier League, and to The Den for the Malaysian Grand Prix (Paddy's only had Chinese coverage; and the staff there on a Sunday afternoon are too dopey to work out if it's showing on any of their online or satellite English-language channels). Finding myself in Sanlitun for one reason or another quite often, I found myself dropping into Luga's for the cheap early evening Tsingtaos quite a few times. And, since my friend Little Anthony was in town, I gave him the whistlestop tour of worthwhile drinking venues: Flamme (best food - although, since we were looking in on a lunchtime, we refrained from sampling the excellent cocktail menu), Luga's Villa (best pool table - though sadly a bit crap in every other respect), The Den (the only affordable Guinness in town), Fubar (most hidden - and sadly devoid of customers these days, at least in the early evening), El Nido (best value), Amilal (warmest welcome, best music selection, most coquettish cats), and MaoMaoChong (best cocktails outside of Flamme; although, sadly, we weren't able to try their excellent pizza as well because chef Stephen was on holiday with his family). And - to cast the net just a little wider than usual - I found myself kicking off the month at What Bar by the Forbidden City (which was actually closed for the night, while a group of Beijing Film School students shot scenes for their graduation project in there; but The Choirboy and I enjoyed a few xiaomaibu beers on the sidewalk with the lady boss), and closing it with a rare stop-off at Laowai's, a new-ish student dive in Wudaokou.

Alas, in the midst of such diverse activity, I neglected my old favourite The Pool Bar for the whole month - must put that right soon!

My other 'second homes', though, maintained something like their usual frequency of visitation: I looked in at Amilal 6 times during the month, and El Nido 4 times.

And 12 Square Metres... well, I can't begin to count!! I think I hit a run of 15 straight days there at one point, and probably only missed 4 or 5 days in the whole month. (This only ever seems to happen when the boss JK is away. He'll be starting to think I've got something against him...)

Hence, it was a rather painfully heavy spending month, nearly twice as expensive as my very low-key March! I must try to tighten the belt a little (A LOT!) in May.  Wish me luck.

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