If I told you we found a place to drink free craft beer in Hong Kong all night long, would you be surprised? Yeah... I didn't think so.
We met Hopley at The Roundhouse Taproom on our first visit to Hong Kong. He and I stayed connected via WeChat and upon our return to Hong Kong, he let us know about the grand opening party of a new Craftissimo location. An hour bus-ride through Hong Kong rush hour later, and we made it to the party. And what a party it was! A few hundred expats were three-hours into the evening when we got there, all of them more than a little inebriated. Why? Free beer. That's right. Craftissimo's was giving away beer at their opening party. No, they weren't rationing out drink tickets. No, they weren't limiting it to one kind of beer. If it was cold, you could drink it. For free. That seemed to be the policy.
Two hours and uncountable free beers later, laden with the $237 (HKD) of additional beer for later consumption, three of the expats forced us to go to karaoke with them. Forced, I say! They flagged down a cab, and the five of us piled in. This did not please the driver, as his cab was only supposed to carry four people. But as often happens, the promise of a fat tip was enough for him to risk his license, and we were on our way. To where? Good question.
Kallie (or Kelly. Or perhaps Monica. We'd been drinking.) told the cabbie the name of the karaoke bar, but he didn't recognize it. (Hong Kong is a gigantic city, lousy with karaoke bars.) She knew the name of the street but not the address. That should get us close, right?
Not right. After driving a few kilometers east and then circling a block over and over again, the collective decision was to get out of the cab and walk. To where? Another fine question.
After a few stumbling steps sort of in the right direction, Stuart (or Stewart. Or perhaps Andrew. We'd been drinking.) remembered that he, like the rest of us, had a device in his pocket that might be of assistance. A quick Google Map lookup later, and we were piling back into another cab, with instructions slurred at the driver in ever-increasing Welsh and Scottish accents. Not helpful. I understood enough of what they were saying to indicate to the driver where to go. Yes, that's right. Me, the guy with poor hearing and very little handle on how to navigate Hong Kong was acting as translator between drunken expat teachers (teachers, man...) and a Chinese taxi driver. But it worked, and Kallie (or Monica) announced we had arrived at the Karaoke bar.
I'm no stranger to karaoke. But this place looked a lot more like a tittie bar fronting a whorehouse than a karaoke bar. As it turns out, they do the karaoke a bit different over here. Where I was expecting to entertain the entire bar with my renditions of Elton John, Billie Joel, and Meatloaf... there was no "bar". Instead, there were private rooms, each with a touch-screen interface, giant TV screen, and four microphones. It was karaoke alright, but in a much more intimate setting.
Somehow, Hoegaardens the size of fishtanks appeared in front of me, of which I helped myself while I watched the now really, really drunk teachers attempt to operate the touchscreen interface. At least three different staff were consulted to help do the most mundane tasks, like turn up the microphones, turn down the accompanying track, and say "no, we don't have that deep cut from Blur in our system, I'm sorry."
(And at some point, I lost track of Sophie (Sophia? Or maybe Virginia. We'd been drinking.) who had been on the couch next to me. I didn't bring her up earlier because she slept through the cab rides and had been sleeping on the couch. I hope you're feeling OK today, Sophie. But you probably aren't.)
A couple hours later, horse from singing/shouting and ears ringing from said singing/shouting, we left them to their revelry and found a cab to take us home. And yes, I remembered to bring the beer from Craftissimo with me. I think I'll have one now!