Beijing's newest jazz bar takes its name from a contrafact of Gershwin’s 1930 jazz standard 'I Got Rhythm' and is not the name we would have chosen for our establishment. Just doesn’t flow like Honest Frank’s Real Smooth™ Jazz. Still, Beijing’s latest jazz venue is thoroughly jazz: deep bricky-brown walls across two storeys, low-lying leather furniture pointed at a modest stage, clouds of smoke shot through with targeted down lighting rising above it all. Design gambles – black metal mesh railings, for one – are scattered throughout Good Bait’s comfortable environs and are clever curveballs. It’s moody as all get-out and we’re buying it.
We’re also buying the cocktails, of which there are over 90 originals to choose from, all dreamt into life by old-hand barkeep Travis Yuan
. Some of them are 120RMB, which is an utter stitch-up to be sure, but a reality we’re reluctantly coming to terms with in these fancy times. The bigger headline is that a very average beer won’t cost you much less – a Cooper’s Vintage is priced squarely above its worth at 70RMB – but with no cover charge we’re figuring some of that is being siphoned off to the band, which makes us feel good like we’ve just donated to Make-A-Wish.
So far musical programming is strictly house-band purview – not bad at all, but there’s only so much you can do with 'Canteloupe Island' when you’re not Herbie Hancock.
Good Bait is a standup option for late-night jazz in Chaoyang; the best in an increasingly tight race. We’re also thankful that, in a world where marathon soft openings threaten the virtue of patience and the thrill of anticipation, Good Bait has been ready to go from the jump. A solid choice for a pricey nightcap, but you haven’t been to Real Smooth™ yet.
Most cocktails: 100RMB
By Frank Sweet