(Note: This post originally appeared on sibling blog Beijing Boyce.)
By Jim Boyce
When you hear a wine bar has opened in “the same building as the youth hostel”, you should be forgiven for having low expectations. In the case of newcomer Cru, such expectations are easily exceeded.
Just north of Workers Stadium in Beijing, Cru is a project by five women who want to share their interest in wine. The main features are a bar that can seat 12 and a long and narrow main room that looks ideal for groups and seminars. While the place needs some finishing touches, MNC and I nevertheless found it tasteful — think dark woods, bookshelves loaded with wines — and quite comfortable.
As far as wine goes, expect plenty of options from usual suspects like France, Italy and Australia, arranged by country and color. There is also a wine from Uruguay and a handful of bottles from two China operations: Grace Vineyard in Shanxi and Silver Heights in Ningxia. But the house specialties are the five wines from Bodegas Perica in Spain, including a pleasant Tempranillo by the glass, that are being imported by the owners.
“I went with one of the other owners to Spain and we visited Bodegas Perica because a friend had recommended it,” says Karen Wang. “The people there were super nice, and even though we went to many vineyards and tried many wines, we liked Bodegas Perica most because the wines tasted good and they were good value compared to wines from France.”
Wang says they returned to Beijing, set up an import company and, along with three more women, started the wine bar.
“We are good friends, all of us have day jobs and all of us share an interest in wine,” explains Wang. “All of us are also single, so we get together and drink wine a lot.”
Cru could use some fine-tuning — the light behind the bar is a bit too bright, a few more options by the glass would be good (there are just two), and so on — but it has only been open a few weeks and offers much potential. And while it is cliche to say the staff is friendly, it holds true here. The bartender gave me some food tips and explained how he is making his own ciabatta bread, while the affable Jerry, known to many from Union Bar & Grille, is also helping out.
Cru also lists cocktails, from rmb48, and a half-dozen beers, including 500ml bottles of Tuborg for rmb30. It is open daily, 6 PM to 1 AM. One way to find Cru is to go to the corner where Workers Stadium north and west streets meet, just up from Lantern Club. Then go north, crossing the street, walk about 100 meters and turn right into the entrance alley for the youth hostel. If you know your streets in that area, Cru is just off Chunxiu Road, which is between Sanlitun North and Xingfucun Middle Road. You can also find more info about Cru on Weibo here.
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