'First looks' are initial sneak peeks at a new venue. Unlike reviews, which are strictly anonymous and paid for by Time Out, 'first looks' may be based on press trips or other non-anonymous visits. Look out for the full review coming soon.
Our favourite matchbox tiki bar Bungalow blew into town early this summer
, and stayed just long enough for us to get hooked on killer tropic-inspired cocktails before abruptly shuttering
its doors (at the orders of the fun police/neighbours). But now, only three months later, it's back and in bigger, more established confines.
The ramshackle charm that first caught our attention has gone, replaced by a more professional-looking Bungalow.
Bungalow owner, Phil Tory
Master of ceremonies Phil Tory remains behind the bar – mixing up fixtures from the '30s and '40s that launched the tiki trend in southern California – but the team has grown substantially, with a handful of Hawaiian-shirt-wearing bartenders and servers joining the team.
Over the past decade or so, tiki has been experiencing a bit of a revival among serious bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts – a few Beijing spots, like BBC
, already serve tiki-esque drinks or host tiki nights.
One of each? Don't mind if we do...
But whatever the origins of tiki in Beijing, Bungalow is unquestionably the city's first proper tiki bar. Phil and his crew have gone full-tilt, and, from first glance, it's clear to see these guys are leaning into the tiki theme pretty hard. Hibiscus blossoms, rum and panama hats don't usually shout 'We take ourselves seriously!', but Phil and his crew say otherwise – and we believe them.
Believe it or not, tiki drinks are complex, multi-layered productions. From the garnishes to the grade of crushed ice, they take time and a lot of practise to perfect, so a bit of professionalism goes a long way.
We put the joint through its paces last night, drinking our way through the entire soft launch menu just to make sure that, despite its new look, it hasn't lost its old charm.
Here's what we saw and drank:
The full menu includes a few more standards than you may have encountered at the original location (think 'painkilla's' and 'zombie's'), but those won't be available until things get into full gear after the soft opening that starts this Saturday 26.
Drinks are at the 50-55RMB mark; around 45 for daily specials and 35RMB during happy hour (exact time yet to be confirmed).