The days of the lazy, slapdash hutong bottle shop bar just might be numbered. Where once a case of Hoegaarden and a bottle opener made you a bartender, now there are jiggers, top-shelf craft hooch and handsome men wearing pressed shirts. At Fang Bar, a narrow space that’s small even by hutong standards, things are looking up for the backstreet cocktail bar.
If the drinks smack of the swanky cocktail bars of Sanlitun, it’s because the chief bartender was plucked straight out of one. The style at Fang is decidedly more laidback, but don’t think for a moment that they don’t take their drinks seriously. In what has become the bar’s unofficial tagline, they serve ‘serious drinks for not so serious people’ – and they aren’t kidding.
The house specialities are making a name for Fang. Fancy a shot of bison grass vodka with lemongrass syrup and lime juice (25RMB)? You should: its bright citrus flavour will put you on your back. For even more local flavour, try the Journey West (65RMB), featuring red date and raisin. Service gets choppy when the crowds move in; go early and in a small group or expect to wait.
With the right team and a bit more space there’s no telling what the guys at Fang could get up to. For now, we’ll just have to stand at the bar.
By Nick Gollner