We’re in that terrible time of year when the weather is so bad that even this scribe opts for hibernating in his heated home, rather than exploring Shanghai’s bars. There’s also the annual hiatus between western New Year and Chinese New Year which puts many happenings on hold. Nevertheless, there are some interesting upcoming events that will draw us out from our cosy dwellings with much to lure my fellow oenophiles. Here goes …
THE RED BEAT BAR: GRAND OPENING, PART 2: The Red Beat Bar (3F, 72 Tongren Rd) held its grand opening party last Saturday. More than 600 people passed through the door, with another few hundred left queuing up outside for blocks and blocks up Tongren Road. The lucky ones were treated to free booze from 7-11pm, while listening to the energetic Red Beat Band, sourced from more than 50 professional bands who auditioned for the bar owners in the Philippines several months ago. The unlucky ones who wanted to join the party queued for ages in the cold and were eventually turned away. However, they have their chance this Friday and Saturday when Red Beat holds their Grand Opening Part 2, from 7pm to midnight, when all standard drinks are just RMB20. So, if you missed out last week, go again this week. If you call up (6279 0338) and tell them your name and estimated arrival time, your entrance is guaranteed!
THE RED BEAT BAR: WINOPETE’S WRAP: The Red Beat Bar is a normal bar located on the notorious southern stretch of Tongren Road with pool table and live band. Working girls are not allowed in. Owned by some Brits, managed by an Irish fella, staffed by lots of Filipinos and some locals, and with the ground PR work admirably done by a Canadian (on ‘ya, Jordan), this polyglot crew worked hard to produce Red Beat’s opening and appears to have done a good job.
Living up to its name, the decor is predominantly red, including red lighting, red sofas, red walls, red backed chairs and even a red surfaced pool table. There’s a corner lounge with its own small screen TV, a bar with seating for about eight amply-built foreigners, one nice sturdy table that seats about seven, then there is a lot of small tables for couples or small groups, with some tables on a split level higher than everyone else, apart from the band. The pool table is unfortunately positioned very close to the seats at the bar. Better hope the owners have insurance for flying pool ball-caused injuries — it’s a matter of when, not if. There are also some screens for watching sports broadcasts and music videos, including a pull-down screen in front of the stage, another one near the bar and the small TV facing the corner lounge suite. Apparently, USD300,000 was spent on renovating the place and taking care of all the proper licensing fees.
On my second visit, the drinks menu had still not been printed so prices were quoted to me on request. Basically, prices are average Shanghai, with a lack of happy hour likely to earn them a dearth of customers till after 8pm, given the many other happy hours available in the same neck of the woods. The beer range is (yawn) very uninspiring: just the same ‘ol bottled Carlsberg, Heineken, Tiger and Corona at RMB38. Draft beer offered is ho-hum Qingdao at a hefty RMB40, or Paulaner at a monstrous RMB60. Moving away from the ordinary amber liquid, cocktails are mostly RMB35-50, most house spirits RMB40, soft drinks RMB25 and house wine RMB55. Actually, the house wine is a very satisfactory Chilean label called Santa Mia: there’s Santa Mia Chardonnay Reserve and Santa Mia Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, both not bad at all. Well-heeled whisky aficionados will appreciate the Glenfiddich 30 year old (RMB150) and Macallan 25 year old (RMB250).
Glancing at the small food menu, still a work in progress, I noted burgers (RMB50), nasi goreng (RMB50), hot dog (RMB50), chicken wings (RMB25) and the piece de resistance, a delicious 6oz (approx) beef tenderloin at a ridiculously cheap RMB50. But, hurry, this is an opening special only and the price will rise very soon. I tried it and it was wonderful — tasty, tender and flavoursome, although it did suffer slightly from being heavily anointed with pepper sauce. Nevertheless, it’s easily the best value steak in town for now.
The seven-member Red Beat Band is much better than the average Filipino band. This professional group plays many different forms of music and keeps the high energy level going right through till the end of their last set. However, given the relatively small space and the music’s mostly high volume level, Red Beat is not well suited to conversations or answering phone calls when the band is in full swing. The band begins playing at 9.15pm, Tuesday-Saturday, and performs three sets a night. Music on Mondays is of a softer nature, with Ruby (ex Malones) singing from 8pm. Ruby also does a solo set beginning 7.30pm on some other weekdays. Contact Red Beat for the exact band schedule information which is still being finalised (phone 6279 0338; email: [email protected]).
The Red Beat is trying hard to carve its own niche in the Tongren bar scene. The management is also well aware they have to battle the poor reputation the bar strip near Yan’an Road holds. However, with a combination of good music, competent service (from what I’ve observed so far) and plans to try different activities, Red Beat has the potential for success. For you drinkers who quite rightfully may be turned off the whole Tongren Road scene, I suggest you give Red Beat a try. It is open from 5pm-4am everyday, with the kitchen open till just before closing time.
COMMANDERIE DE BORDEAUX WINE TASTING AND DINNER: A lavish dinner and French wine tasting will be held this Sunday 20th January at Kathleen 5’s (325 Nanjing Xi Lu) from 6pm by the Shanghai chapter of Commanderie de Bordeaux, a society of keen French wine drinkers. Wines to be served will include three vintages of Chateau Angelus, plus 14 St Emilion wines, including a couple of Pomerols. Cost for non-members is a paltry RMB1300 (members RMB1100). Please RSVP to: [email protected]
SUMMERGATE LOS VASCOS WINE TASTING: Summergate will hold a tasting of DBR Lafite Los Vascos Chilean wines on 23rd January at Laris (6F, 3 on the Bund) from 7-9pm. Cost is RMB180, or RMB160 if pre-booked with Michelle Chung ([email protected]). Wines to be tasted are a sauvignon blanc 2007, chardonnay 2006, cabernet sauvignon 2004, cabernet sauvignon grande reserve 2004 and Le Dix de Los Vascos 2003.
RUBY RED NZ WINE MASTER CLASS: Keeping Shanghai’s wine lovers occupied, Ruby Red earns a spot on your calendar by scheduling a master class on New Zealand’s wines and wine regions on 26th January. The class will be held at Ruby Red’s office (No 41b, underground cellar, Tian Shan No.2 Borough, Zun Yi Rd) starting at 7.30pm. Of course, there will also be some New Zealand wines for tasting. To reserve your seat, phone 6234 3031 or e-mail: [email protected]
ASC LOUIS JADOT WINE TASTING: Some great Burgundy wines will be all the rage on 31st January at Vino Venue (1970 Hongqiao Road) from 7pm, courtesy of ASC. Wines to be tasted are: Bourgogne chardonnay 2005, Pouilly-Fuisse 2006, Puligny-Montrachet 2005, Bourgogne pinot noir 2005, Beaune 1er Cru Theurons 1999 and Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2001. Cost is just RMB128 per head. Please RSVP to: [email protected] Checking out Vino Venue, a new place that combines wine and art, should also be interesting.
ODDS AND ENDS
– Bar Rouge sells more Moet champagne than any other single venue in southeast Asia
– Judyth, ex Sashas, is now at Otto
– Big Bamboo Jinqiao opened last week and is located at Green Court, 777 Biyun Road. Apparently it is more the size of Baby Bamboo in Hongqiao, but one floor only.
– Julian has finished his stint as corporate chef for the Theme Pub Company venues (Sashas, O’Malleys, Zapatas) and will move to Hainan early Feb to work for the Ritz-Carlton in Sanya. He’s beginning to learn Russian too.
– Racks, an upscale pool hall in Xintiandi, with adjoining lounge and bar, will hold its grand opening this Friday. More information coming soon.
Winopete is Shanghaiist’s resident drunkard. Email tips, recommendations, news and gossip about Shanghai’s bar scene to drink at shanghaiist dot com.