One of Beijing's Food & Bev success stories in 2015, The Bungalow -- or as it's now known, The Tiki Bungalow -- is back open Friday night for a soft opening party at its new location at 34 Jiaodaokou Bei Santiao. This Saturday night, it's 50% off the soft opening Tiki drinks menu until 10:30pm, and then on Sunday, they're fully open with an expanded menu of classic and contemporary Tiki creations fit for kings and beach hobos the world over.
SmartBeijing went to some sort of fantastic expat media night sock-hop there on Monday to check it the new drinks and digs.
My early review: 3.5 City Weekend Ami Li's...
... OUT OF A POSSIBLE 3.5!
("The City Weekend Ami Li Scale" only goes up to 3.5, by the way. That's some inside baseball for you. Hey, I don't make the rules.)
Here's what The Tiki Bungalow looks like.
A much more refined version of The Bungalow Mark 1, The Tiki Bungalow is a clean and fresh room, with a design aesthetic that skirts a line between a nostalgic Dean Martin kind of class and straight-up Martin Denny kitch. The one-room bar (plus a bit of patio seating) is outfitted with tropical accouterments and curios wrested from the sets of surfing movies from the '50s. Sunset paintings, woven thatch, and parrots line the walls and colorful lanterns hang from the ceiling. Tiki cups and totems are placed throughout, with three, big custom-made ones bisecting the big liquor shelf behind the bar.
It's slick. It looks great. They've done a great job. It's heavy on themes of travel, diaspora, possibility, and paradise.
Take this interesting fellow we met, wearing the rumpled and billowy pastels:
Doesn't he look like his mum recently sadly passed away and only now -- in some sort of quiet, unfolding, and agonizing mid-life crisis -- he's ascended from his basement apartment in Framlingham, Suffolk to live life in the now, for the first time ever, living life for himself, without reservation or fear of consequence? He's Ebay'ed one of the largest and saddest Treasure Troll collections in the world for a one-way, First Class ticket to Aruba, looking for love and redemption on the sandy beaches of a tropical paradise.
(Let me know if anyone would like to make this movie. Oscar bait, my friends.)
Drinks! Come via this man. (Or his partner at the bar.)
This is Phil, of the three partner-owners, whipping me up a "Last Rites", which is the very first thing you should be ordering. It's three shots of rum, some other stuff, and a flaming cube of sugar served in a skull.
Tasted like One-Eyed Willy's private stock. Arrrrr.
The opening menu looks like this:
Boasting over 35 (40? 45? 50?) Tiki concoctions, there's a fair amount of reverence to the pioneers in the field (see: Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's), with loads of rum and blue Curaçao in the mix. Prices are 50rmb-ish to 75rmbish -- feels like a bit of a bump from the old place, but it was always under-priced anyway. A few of the favorites have made the trip over, such at the popular "Leilani's Volcano"...
...and the fantastic "Jet Pilot".
But there's also a lot of new ones -- at least to me, anyways. I really enjoyed this "Blue Dolphin".
Tasted like have sweaty, passionate sex with a renegade, play-by-his-own-rules USAF jet pilot in the mid-to-late '80s.
Like exactly like that.
The Mai Tai was also a brisk and welcome little thing. Really sour. Really slaps some sense into your taste buds.
Cant remember who this is...
...but he brought his friend.
Here's a little White on white.
Don't remember. It all gets blurry from here on out. The thing about these drinks, they turn you into a cackling, yammering lunatic in about 20 minutes. Think I was solving a lot of human kind's problems at this point, offering a lot of new and audacious opinions about how "we could get ourselves out of this goddamn rut we're all in". I don't know. Something.
Oh, then this happened!
This is the guys from Knights & Merchant, the medieval-themed bar next door, working on their lance and broadsword melee combat. Right there at the front of their bar. Serious. I'm deadly serious. A full-blown joust broke out into the hutong.
(Gotta start 'em young.)
So the math: just drinking Hollywood, Polynesia cocktails from the '30s while watching some Chinese guys blast each other in the head with wooden Lord of the Rings orc swords from 13th century England.
Not a whole hell of a lot wrong with that!
The Take-Away: An emphatic yes to The Tiki Bungalow. No shade on this place :P. Drinks are careful, unique, and excellent. Drinks are gnarly. It looks wonderful. It's a nice and fun place to drink and get drunk in. It's special.
Definitely check it out. Opening party Saturday. Full menu from Sunday.
The Tiki Bungalow is at 34 Jiaodaokou Bei Santiao, off Yonghegong Dajie. It's right in between the record store BLAKK and La-Bas on the one side and Knights & Merchants on the other. They're open daily, from 6pm till late.
[CORRECTION]: Originally, this article stated that Tiki Bungalow's opening party is this Friday. It's the Saturday. My bad. Saturday, not Friday. The article has been changed to correct this.