Lu Dong Ming might well be the next don of Sanlitun, albeit an exceedingly gracious and benevolent one. In the past year, the owner of Revolution has rapidly expanded his legitimate business enterprise, opening three new high-end cocktail bars in quick succession.
First there was members-only Ming Bar, around the corner from Revolution. Then, around another corner, came speakeasy Hidden House. Now, in the space of the original Heaven Supermarket – opposite Ming Bar – he’s opened whisky and cocktail bar Miles.
Miles couldn’t be any more different from Heaven. Much like Hidden House, there’s a sophisticated Prohibition Era atmosphere. The wall behind the bar is packed with elegantly lit bottles of spirits. The whisky menu is wide-ranging, with selections including small boutique single malts like Arran. A vintage telephone booth in the middle of the room attests to Lu’s self-proclaimed fondness for antiques.
A month after opening, we found the menu in development and a few kinks to resolve. One Friday night, we experience quite the rollercoaster of an aural journey: ‘Sexual Healing’ leads to ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ to an old jazz standard. Our Sanlitun-sense starts tingling: has nearby salacious Bar Street already swallowed up Miles?
In the hope that our suspicions are wrong, we order two signature cocktails, both intriguing for how improbable they sound. How do you make a cocktail with pear vodka, rose syrup and lime taste good without being cloying? You can’t, as it turns out: the Beijing Autumn (60RMB) feels like a melted Jolly Rancher. The Cotton Candy (60RMB) tastes like creamy pink hand soap and is nearly undrinkable. Redemption, however, comes swiftly in the form of a solid old fashioned (60RMB).
We haven’t had the best luck with the trial signature cocktails, but given Lu’s track record, we have high hopes they’ll get it right soon. For now, stick to the classics.
By Cat Nelson