Shake It Up profiles the eight Beijing mixologists that are up for the title of Beijing's Best Bartender in the Beijinger's 2015 Reader Bar and Club Awards (vote here through May 17). Today we talk with Jane Cui, owner of XL Bar and Restaurant.

What did you do before you opened XL?
For 12 years I worked with Patrick De Smet, following him from the Hidden Tree to The Tree, and then Nearby the Tree.

What are your goals for this bar/restaurant?
After tending bar at The Tree restaurants for so many years, I decided I had enough experience to build up a place of my own, and make people feel welcome and at home. I wanted to have a place with a cozy decor and sell value deals on drinks and food so that people can really relax and not worry about the money.

Tell us about the drink you’re making for us today.
We named it 'Jimmy’s Iced Tea'. It basically has all the ingredients of a Long Island Iced Tea, but with an added half-ounce of Cointreau, and half an ounce of fresh lime juice. We use crushed ice and put only a little cola in the bottom of the glass at first, then pour well-shaken alcohol on top of that. I like to serve it with two straight straws that are the same color. It’s a simple decoration that makes the drink more attractive. The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re making a Long Island Iced Tea is that people want a lot of alcohol in it, and they want it to taste fresh.

Who taught you how to make drinks?
Uncle Jack Zhou, the owner of Schillers. Actually, he didn't really teach me how to make drinks – he taught me how to be a good bartender and manager. I think good drinks come from the feeling and passion that the bartender puts into them.

If you could travel anywhere in the world to learn about how they make their drinks, where would you go?
I wouldn’t really like to go anywhere. I prefer talking to – and learning from – different foreigners from different countries at the bar here. I learned about a lot of nice drinks from my customers  I like to let them go behind the bar and shake up drinks for themselves. I think lessons like that are much more useful than a trip to any country.

Want another round? Follow the Shake It Up series here ... and don't forget to honor your favorite Beijing watering hole before May 17 here.

Image: Ken

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog