Gentrification saved my life. It's a controversial notion that Beijing's remaining hutong alleyways might have bars and restaurants - nightlife - to thank for their survival. I remember when I first started writing for Beijing expat magazines in 2009, 90% of the nightlife focus was on Sanlitun and the CBD, with the hutongs hardly getting a look-in. I had to argue with editors for the inclusion of new hutong bars and restaurants. It seems incredible now, given the consensus that MOST of the hippest new places are opening up in old alleyways and restored courtyard homes. And long may the trend continue - it's added immense value to parts of town that the civic authorities had neglected for years. This piece about Beijing's best hutong bars was for DestinAsian Magazine in 2012 - since then I would stick a few more on the list: Mai Bar, Mas, Slow Boat Tap Room, and the venerable Amilal.