My favorite bar in Beijing is Ichikura – Japanese Cocktail Bar. It’s basically just a room with a long bar and about 12-15 bar stools by it. It does have two small private rooms for the occasional American tourists or Japanese Business Men, the American tourists being the one’s that usually need a room – since they all travel in groups. Anyway, it’s a tiny bar with three staff. The main bartender, who’s an expert on Whiskey and is Japanese, he’ll talk about anything if that’s what the customer wants, so basically a good bartender. Then there’s the two waitresses on either side of the bar, there’s usually the ugly one and then the pretty one. Sometimes it’s two Chinese girls and sometimes it’s two Japanese girls. The great thing about this bar is that very few people know about it, you can usually be certain that apart from you the only other customer is usually either the lonely Japanese businessman falling asleep over the bar or the lonely Japanese businessman and his mistress about to leave for something more private. There’s no music, the walls are black, the lighting is dim, there’s a carpet on the floor – everything is as minimalistic and quiet as it can possibly get… They have probably the largest whiskey collection in Beijing and they do make the best Mojitos in town also. Before the Olympics the whole surrounding area was being re-built, so you actually had to walk trough the living quarters of migrant workers and up scaffolding before entering the bar… that made the the experience of Ichikura even more remote and unique, now the surrounding are has been cleaned up – but it’s still not that easy to find. Of course – this being a High Class Japanese Cocktail bar – for businessmen – there is a Japanese massage parlor upstairs, thankfully though … there’s no Kareoki to be seen anywhere. I can’t comment on the massage place upstairs since I haven’t been there but I assume it’s of the same standard as the bar itself. Being in Ichikura often feels like an art-house movie, where you sit and sip an expensive whiskey while talking your troubles away to the bartender – it’s more Lost in Translation than James Bond.