Leon Lee (Apothecary) and Warren Pang (d Lounge) are the city’s undisputed cocktail kings, having created two of the most successful bars ever to grace our fair city. So it was with great joy (and a small, high-pitched whoot) that we discovered the pair have come together to form a dream team – and a dream bar.
Their new venture, Janes & Hooch, is the closest thing Beijing has to a New York speakeasy, and we love it. From the unremarkable entrance to the superb bespoke cocktails and a bartender (Warren) who dresses like he has a part in Some Like It Hot, it’s perfect for those who want a proper grown up drink.
To find out more,we sat down with Pang for a little chat…
BB: So, Janes and Hooch? Who are these fellows? And should we worry about bumping into them in a dark alley?
WP: They aren’t people my dear. Back in the days of prohibition it meant dames (janes) and bootleg booze (hooch). We got the name from an old Dean Martin movie “I’ve got the Janes if you got the Hooch”. It captures the spirit of the era plus the cheek that we wanted for our little establishment.
BB) Who is J&H for?
WP: Adults that behave like adults and appreciate a decent tipple.
BB: What’s the most mindblowingly crazy ingredient you’ve ever put into a drink that still tasted awesome?
WP: We aren’t really into that mixology mumbo jumbo. Lots of places lately just make these crazy mixes for the sake or attention yet forget about the history and integrity of drinking which I think is a crime. That and usually it tastes naff. Our general philosophy on drinking is keeping it at 4 ingredients max, using good ‘proteins’ and letting the it shine through. If you drink you want to taste the booze, not hide it in infusions and juice. So no, no crazy stuff.
BB: what won’t be tolerated at J&H?
WP: We have a rough house etiquette list on the first page of our menu. In short, no star f**king, no PDA, no dice, no Rihanna.
BB: what will be tolerated?
WP: Lindy Hoppin and Fox Trottin.
BB: How long would it take the average person with zero bar skills (like us) to learn to make cocktails as good as yours?
WP: Well it’s not quantum physics. After mastering about 20 of the base classics you should be able to understand the foundations of flavour and balance. There is a story from a vintage book that illustrates the irony but need for balance: A French man goes to an American bar and teaches him how to make a drink called The Contradiction. You put whisky to make it strong, water to make it weak, lemon to make it sour, sugar to make it sweet, then you say “here’s to you” and drink it yourself.
BB: How does one name a cocktail?
WP: Usually it has a great back story involving a hero, something that inspires, a tribute, an insider’s joke…
BB: From Janes & Hooch’s Facebook page we can see you’re fond of pin ups. Which classy broad would you invite to your bar if you could?
WP: Dinah Washington or Ginger Rogers.
BB: Most imaginative way to smuggle your alcohol (a la Al Capone) during Prohibition?
WP: I read somewhere that there was this famous brothel in Chicago that used to get their girls to fill their super high heels with whisky to bypass police raids. after that they would unscrew the heel and pour it into a glass. Very Magyver ladies!
BB: Which member of the Rat Pack would you be and why?
WP: I wouldn’t say any, but the one I am drawn to is Dean Martin. Everything he did seemed effortless. Pure talent but never took things too seriously. That, and because his favourite tipple was a simple scotch and soda. VERY cool.
Janes & Hooch Lot 10, Courtyard 4, Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang district.