A few years ago, Irish bars in Beijing seemed to be spreading across the capital like potato blight (our favourite was the knock-off Paddy O’Shea’s that opened briefly near Moma, just for the sheer balls-out flagrancy of making it identical to the unaffiliated original), but recent years have seen the city’s Paddy pride peter out.
Still, that hasn’t stopped The James Joyce, located just west of Sanlitun on Xindong Lu, from adding itself to Beijing’s swollen list of Gaelic watering holes. While the outside makes it look more like a swanky cocktail joint than an Irish bar, the inside’s aesthetics are more appropriate. Leather booths, hardwood tables and a well-stocked bar offer up a sense of homely familiarity, and we applaud the brave decision not to plaster the walls with old bicycles, fishing nets and other stereotypical, top-o’-the-marnin’-to-yez Oirish bric-a-brac.
The drinks menu features Guinness and Kilkenny on tap (50RMB a pint) as well as a selection of 20 imported bottled beers including Newcastle Brown Ale and Brooklyn Lager (30-50RMB; 20RMB for Tsingtao). A daily happy hour from 11am to 8pm offers 5RMB off pints, servicing the all-day, old-man drinkers that can be found in every respectable Irish bar.
All told, The James Joyce doesn’t break much new ground, but isn’t that sort of the point of an Irish pub? If you’re sick of all the new bar openings that only seem to cater to manicured cocktail sippers, wacky student binge drinkers, or other harbingers of the douche-pocalypse, then this is a decent place for you to escape all the nonsense and get some serious afternoon drinking done.