Time for my roundup of favourites from the first quarter of last year...
Guided Tour - recommended posts from the 1st quarter of 2011
1) The worst bar in the world?? - 4th January 2011
I pay a brief but illuminating visit to Beijing's most abysmal - and ludicrously named - bar, La Fite Exotic English Bar.
2) My new hero - 5th January 2011
I discover that the tiny Pen-Tailed Tree Shrew of Malaysia subsists entirely on a type of naturally fermented nectar which has a higher alcohol content than Chinese beer!
Some rather embarrassing tales of alcoholic excess in my younger days...
4) Another absinthe poem - 9th January 2011
Arthur Symons' celebration of the blissful haze of daytime drinking...
5) Froog's esprit de l'escalier - 13th January 2011
Too late... I come up with a neat answer to that vexed "What are you doing here?" question.
6) Fodder!! - 18th January 2011
Beijing's BEST low-budget bar/restaurant remains almost completely unknown - because it's all the way out in Caochangdi.
7) Suzanne Vega's Caramel - 23rd January 2011
An overdue addition to my 'Great Songs' series.
8) The dream landscape - 25th January 2011
Some of the pubs - and pub crawls - I dream about are better than the real thing!
9) The virtue of whisky - 28th January 2011
One of the best of my 'Haiku Bar haiku' - on the relative merits of different beverages for facilitating a good heart-to-heart chat.
10) How things change.... - 30th January 2011
I reflect on how I became a drinker in China... and how I got fat in the last few years!
11) Ultimate singalong - 5th February 2011
Fortuitously reminded of what a great communal headbang Bohemian Rhapsody can be, I celebrate by trawling up a diverse selection of versions of the song - including one by the fabulous US 'rockgrass' band Hayseed Dixie.
12) Hold On - 12th February 2011
As close as I get to a 'Valentine's post': my favourite of Tom Waits's more recent songs.
13) The price issue - 16th February 2011
On the eve of my departure on a holiday, I try to sound a clarion call to rouse the Beijing population to revolt against overpriced drinks in bars. The effort was a dismal failure, but I shall keep on trying to fight the good fight.
14) A Tale of Two Bars - 6th March 2011
And also, pretty much, the tale of my holiday in Penang (apart from my brief fantasy about buying the derelict hotel next door!).
15) A 'bon mot' about baijiu - 7th March 2011
Because you can never have too many warnings...
16) The Coliseum Café & Hotel - 12th March 2011
One of my curiouser - and most quirkily charming - discoveries on a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur.
17) The greatest little boozer... - 17th March 2011
For St Patrick's Day this year I share a personal reminiscence about the Pogues song Sally McLennane (and am lucky enough to turn up on YouTube a great live performance of it from classic BBC2 music show The Old Grey Whistle Test). Alas, despite my Irish heritage, I find the modern Irishman increasingly pisses me off...
18) Top Five Places To Drink Outdoors - 27th March 2011
The advent of spring prompts me to reject the supposed allurements of Beijing's expensive terrace bars in favour of... more homely pleasures.