The best bar has to be the crowbar – multipurpose, sleek, with an interesting design – more so than the big, straight steel bars they use to make buildings, although I think they're classed as girders these days anyway. Sadly the crowbar wasn't short-listed for this year's that's Beijing Reader Bar & Club Awards; neither was the chocolate bar (quite a surprise given its popularity after the 2005 remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory); nor were prison bars, but then no one wants to be behind them.
No, the bars of note this year were the kind you buy drinks from, sleep on, or dance on, depending where you choose to wet your whistle in Beijing. There are a few notable changes from last year. 2006 Best Bar winner Browns seems to have been flushed from the proverbial pan of the Beijing bar-goers' consciousness, everyone having realized that they could still get drunk and act like a twat for half the price at most places in Sanlitun. Meanwhile, Beijing bar scene aristocrat Bed has lost its title of Best Decor to bourgeois brute Lan, which epitomizes the modern-Beijing philosophy: "If it's expensive, it's good." But who am I to talk? All four people who go to Lan regularly seem to think the place looks pretty (pretty ugly, arf!), so good for them. Sort of.
The awards will be remembered, however, for dark horse D-22 scooping up the mantle of 2007 Bar of the Year. Rock on, guys. The Wudaokou music venue stole the award from under the noses of glitterati favorites Suzie Wong's and China Doll, the latter having to settle for Best New Bar. Otherwise, not a great deal has changed since 2006's awards, which is great as we got to rerun everything we wrote last year and go home early. Centro picked up four awards, including Best Service, a category that was dropped last year seeing as surly service is almost a given when you go drinking in Beijing. Perhaps this is why Centro won: Best Beijing-style Service. Whatever the reason, expect the forthcoming Hooters venue to snatch this category next year. The use of the word "snatch" is purely incidental.
Location: No. 4 Gongti Beilu, upstairs from The Loft
Location: 17 Zhangwang Hutong, Xicheng District
Location: 4/F LG Twin Towers, 12B Jianguomen Waidajie, Chaoyang District
Opening hours: 11pm-3am
Location: 242 Chengfu Lu (two doors west of 13 Club), Haidian District
Opening hours: Daily 6pm-2am, closed Monday
Location: 1A Nongzhanguan Lu (west gate of Chaoyang Park), Chaoyang District
Opening hours: Daily 6.30pm-late
Location: 2/F, Tongli Studios, Sanlitun Beilu, Chaoyang District
Opening hours: Daily 8pm-late
Location: 1/F, Kerry Centre Hotel, 1 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District
Opening hours: Daily 24 hours
Tel: 6561 8833, ask for Centro