Reader Favorite Japanese Whiskey Bar Ichikura to Close Dec 29

If bad things come in threes, then hopefully this is the last of a sad set.

Ichikura joins The Den and Tim's Texas Bar-B-Q as the Beijinger Reader Bar and Club and Reader Restaurant Award-winning outlets that will wave farewell, in Ichikura's case, with Tuesday night being last call.

Owner Kuroki Koji announced the impending closure with a terse post on WeChat. "Because the contract for the current location is ending, and with the Chaoyang Theater not willing to extend or renew it, the bar will close on December 30 (December 29 will be the last day)." He did not indicate if Ichikura would seek other premises to re-open, however, its sister venue, Kura Kura in Sanlitun, will remain open.

In 2014, Ichikura won two Reader Bar and Club Awards, for Best Japanese Bar and Best Whiskey Bar, along with an Outstanding award for Best CBD.

Tucked into the side of the Chaoyang Theater, Ichikura was a favorite to some and unknown to many, a place that no out-of-towner would have found on her or his own.

"Ichikura is a one-of-a-kind bar, a place you might only go a few times a year but are always glad to know is there. It was a forerunner of today's vibrant cocktail scene and years ahead of the speakeasy trend and still has a focus on quality," said Jim Boyce, founder of the Beijing Boyce and Grape Wall of China blogs. "A decade ago, when stocking 10 bourbons, scotches, and single malts qualified a place as a "whisky bar," Ichikura had at least 100, and its shelves now hold over 500 different kinds of alcohol. Add in the cozy layout, good cocktails and low-key vibe and Ichikura represents a sedate getaway from the city's hustle and bustle. You can go, have a cocktail or two, try a whiskey you've not had before, and end up chatting with bar-goers from a half-dozen countries. It's one of the best bars our city has seen," Boyce added.

Due to changing regulations regarding commercial use of properties owned by the People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police, venues popular with Beijing's international residents are closing suddenly. The Den closed earlier this month after receiving a seeming reprieve in November. Tim's Texas Bar-B-Q will gear up for its third once its lease extension ends on January 30. Venues near Ritan Park have shuttered with little notice. We expect this trend to continue for sometime, so stay with the Beijinger for the latest in openings and closings.

Photo: the Beijinger

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Jim Boyce was there for the last evening of legendary bar Ichikura | The Best Little Warehouse in Beijing

"Closing nights for bars are like church on Easter or Christmas: The once-a-year and twice-a-year types appear, crowd out the regulars, and turn the place into a caricature of what you love about it. Such is life. That’s one reason I headed to Ichikura last night, to visit before tonight’s closing party, to hopefully catch the original spirit of this haven one last time."

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