Behind Bars: Janes & Hooch, Beijing
Janes & Hooch is a modern take on a vintage dive bar in the heart of Sanlitun’s factory district of Beijing. Coming from two opposite sides of Australia, Warren Pang, Perth (The Opposite House, d. lounge) and Milan Sekulic, Melbourne (The Opposite House, East, Cakeshop Consulting) are in fact Bejing’s undisputed f&b kings, having created two of the most successful bars ever to grace Beijing city. Their new venture, Janes & Hooch, is the closest thing Beijing has to a vintage dive bar although the owners consider it an Urban Saloon themselves, a former Cultural Revolution-era factory canteen transformed into a sophisticated drinkery with attitude. From the unremarkable entrance to the superb bespoke cocktails and witty service team. Exposed brick and wood-panelled walls, polished cement floors and untouched rusted brass ceilings are bathed in flickering candlelight creating the perfect atmosphere for those who want a proper grown up drink.
The name coming from a little inside joke from the owners. A tip of the hat to a lost era and ode to our two loves in life; Janes (dames) and Hooch (bathtub booze).
Warren, what made you come to Beijing?
I was always interested in the Wild Wild East and luckily I had some family working here at the time. I used that as a stepping stone to living in China just prior to the Olympics in 2007. I fell in love with the rawness and spirit of potential of the city. After a few gigs in Milan and Seoul I still decided to come back to Beijing.
Which city in China has the most sophisticated bar scene?
Currently I would say Shanghai for its diversity and overall higher standards. Shanghai has always had the advantage and base for international f&b concepts – drink culture included.
What is special about ‘Janes & Hooch’ compared to other bars?
The initial concept for J&H was not to be special in any way, just to be good. In a market which was obsessed with bling and fast results, we demanded the opposite – simple, unpretentious, attention to details and service with balls. Fingers crossed.
How do you see the near future in China? Trends?
So far it’s mostly been a game of catch up with global trends but recently concepts have been taking on its own flavor and embracing China’s rich culture, heritage and vast amount of local flavours and textures. I hope it continues in that route.
How important is it having good mixers? How has Thomas Henry helped out in that area?
Crucial. As mixers usually take up 70% of mixed drinks its equally as important as the spirit used. The classic tonic is REAL tonic – not overly sweet but crispy and aromatic. Not only that but there are also interesting alternatives that give the guest a familiar but unique experience to their classic drinks.
Warren, what makes a good bartender?
Generous, genuine service, approachable, fast, a showman and great banter.
What drink would you prefer to serve your customer?
Solid, approachable, seasonal, nostalgic, relatable, unique, value – with a smile.
We like the ‘smile’! And what would be your personal drink of choice?
Scotch and soda or gin martini.
Any particular food you cannot live without?
If not bartending what would you do?
What is important for you in life?
Thank you very much and all the best!
Janes & Hooch
4 Gongti Bei Lu
Phone: +86 (10) 6503 2757