When an alleyway stall hawking tiki cocktails opened last summer,
we admit we didn’t anticipate the tropical drink-fuelled mania that ensued. But
like all flames that burn twice as bright, it was out before its time – forced
to close due to problems with the hutong neighbours. Now the intrepid team of
tiki technicians, led behind the bar by Phil Tory, are back.
The new space is an answered prayer for fans of the
original. With a plush leather bench, amble stools and bar space for another
half-dozen, it twice eclipses the former Jiutiao space.
The place hums with the relaxed confidence of a much older
spot. Behind the bar, Tory shows off his mixing skills and encyclopedic knowledge
of obscure rums and forgotten flavourings. The grinning, Bahama hat-clad team
can walk you through the extensive menu of over 60 different cocktails, many of
which are found nowhere else in the city.
Work your way up to the more outlandish concoctions with a
Corn’N Oil (55RMB), a clever take on a classic that replaces the customary black
rum with two kinds of dark rum, falernum (a liqueur made from cloves, ginger
and citrus zest), lime juice and a dash of bitters; the sweet and herbal
flavours pack some heat as the strong mixture of spirits warms from within. The
Jet Pilot (60RMB) can stand up to even the harshest tiki purist’s scrutiny. Three
rums, spanning the cane spirit spectrum; fresh citrus juices; more falernum; a
dash of cinnamon and a floater of absinthe make for a potent yet refreshing
drink that is far too easy to throw back.
Even more dangerous is The Outrigger (50RMB), a rum sour with
fresh lemon juice and an extra portion of rum that goes down fast, especially
during the weeknight happy hour (two select cocktails for 60RMB before 8pm).
Bungalow is something truly new for the city, and we’re not
just talking about the island theme. In Beijing, this level of expertise and
quality is usually accompanied by a side of tightlipped condescension, not an
umbrella and slice of pineapple. They do what they do better than anyone else
in town. There may be no beaches in Beijing, but we have the required drinks.
Close your eyes, pound back a few happy hour cocktails, and you’ll barely
notice the difference.