Cheers to the mem­ory of a wa­ter­ing hole

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Page Two -

The Great Leap Brew­ery in Bei­jing’s Dongzhi­men has been some­thing of a lo­cal in­sti­tu­tion for quite a while now, and as the near­est bar to my apart­ment, it’s also my de facto “lo­cal”. All this changed early this month after it sud­denly closed down, prompt­ing an out­cry from its reg­u­lars.

While it’s al­ways been a handy place to drop in on my way home, I’ve never re­ally been a fan of craft ale — or the care­fully crafted shabby-chic of the con­tem­po­rary brew­house.

And, as a wine drinker, the bar clearly wasn’t de­signed for those seek­ing a tip­ple that did not in­volve malt,

This Day, That Year yeast, hops and bar­ley — or for that mat­ter fen­nel, caramel or co­rian­der.

While this of­ten saw me ven­ture fur­ther down the street to a lit­tle court­yard bar with a big­ger wine se­lec­tion, I would from time to time — when I was feel­ing lazy, or when it was cold, or when the air was bad (of­ten all three) — pop over there for a house white.

A pop­u­lar haunt with lo­cals and week­enders alike, the bar at­tracted peo­ple of all ages and pro­fes­sions.

You could swing by for a drink and end up chat­ting to a per­son — a pro­fes­sor, a cir­cus per­former or a TV ex­ec­u­tive — from quite dif­fer­ent walks of life.

As con­vivial as the at­mos­phere was, I usu­ally found the bar too noisy (it’s vast in­te­rior tended to am­plify the chat­ter into an all-con­sum­ing din) and like many other noise-averse types (read: “older peo­ple”), I usu­ally ended up out­side in the smog and cold.

This said, the Great Leap was a much-loved bar, so it was as much as a sur­prise to me as its le­gions of loyal cus­tomers when I hap­pened to walk in on its clos­ing night.

Full to ca­pac­ity and with scores more spilling out onto the street, the Great Leap faith­ful flocked to bid the bar farewell in in­creas­ing num­bers as news of its clo­sure cir­cu­lated.

Con­spir­acy the­o­ries abounded about the rea­son for this, but many guessed the bar was the next clo­sure in a Bei­jing cam­paign to clean up the city’s night spots, as was the case for a strip of nearby bars that were forced to close last year.

Oth­ers sus­pected the site was due for re­de­vel­op­ment, which would also not be be­yond the realms of pos­si­bil­ity.

But as the night wore on, I de­camped to the new wine bar next door, which had opened, some­what pre­sciently, just weeks be­fore.

Away from the en­su­ing rev­elry, I found my­self warm­ing to the rel­a­tive tran­quil­lity of the chichi es­tab­lish­ment and soon got chat­ting to the man­ager about the promis­ing look­ing wine list, be­fore the con­ver­sa­tion turned to the sit­u­a­tion next door.

“It’s a shame ... but I think we might switch to sell­ing craft beer soon”, the man­ager said with a broad smile. I know I shouldn’t say this, but I re­ally hope he was jok­ing.

Con­tact the writer at [email protected]­


Brav­ing the el­e­ments, a woman and chil­dren, who seem to be en­joy­ing the rain, wait to cross a busy road in Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince, on Sun­day.

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