Between Great Walls and Beijing ducks, your days in China’s sprawling capital may already be accounted for, but you’ve got to make those nights count, too. We break down the best cocktail bars in Beijing for all your after-dark needs.
Surreptitiously burrowed beside late-night, San Francisco nightclub D Lounge, Scandal’s private mezzanine floor overlooks the black marble wraparound bar below, flanked by a colossal collection of whiskeys and 50 unique gins. While rotovaps have made their way into most bars, Scandal does one better with an uncommon method – vacuumed-sealed cooking – an approach that allegedly makes for precision flavour control. Try it out for yourself, with the Almond: infused with Chinese orgeat, chocolate bitters, lime juice and finished with a Kalamata olive. All cocktails go at RMB80.
Scandal Bar is located at Sanlitun, Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu Chaoyang District, p. +86 10 6508 5150. Opens Tues-Sun 7pm-2am.
The next haunt on our list follows in the footsteps of other bars under the same empire – Revolution, Inception, and Hidden House – and shows promise to be yet another hit for cocktail mogul Xiao Ming. A contingency concept located in the midst of Beijing’s Central Park, it’s the second iteration of Miles cocktail lounge, opening at the fall of its predecessor during the notorious Great Brickening. There’s an expansive cocktail list on board, and must-tries include the egg white whiskey and rum Clara (RMB85).
Miles – Jian Bar is located at Rm 103, 1/F, Bldg 1, Xincheng International, Central Park, Jinghua North Street Chaoyang District, p. +86 10 6585 4771. Opens daily, 6pm-2am.
The Vending Machine
No points for guessing what the entrance to this place is. Hong Kong’s team of creatives from Black Moth are set to take the city, weeb by starry-eyed weeb, with The Vending Machine. There’s a 19m-long manga design running the length of the bar’s ceiling, retro anime figurines commanding every corner, and neon lights that run across the establishment like a ComicCon fever dream. Touted as a machine of liquid art, cocktails span the gamut from classics to unconventional: sip on a potent Piña Colada or add some pep in your step with Popping Candy shots.
The Vending Machine is located at No.7 Gongti Xi Lu, Chaoyang district, p. +86 10 131 2126 1273. Open daily, 7pm-1am.
Folks that love heritage can turn to the ARCH for a taste of lao Beijing. Hidden in the grounds of a former warlord’s mansion, ARCH is inconspicuous in the southeast corner of the baroque building – blink, and you’ll miss it. Their cocktail list features concoctions that tread into unfamiliar territory, and if you love an espresso martini, the Guilty Pleasure (RMB95) makes a case for itself with rich coffee liqueur, spiced rum and quail egg, cut with a dash of citrus. On the other hand, advocates for truffle (and maybe even a few sceptics) will enjoy the Somewhere in Time (RMB125) truffled bourbon.
ARCH is located at Duanqi Rui Fu, No.3 Zhangzizhong Lu, p. +86 10 6333 6188. Opens daily, 7pm-1am.
Not to be confused with Mohiki No. 3 in Sanlitun, it’s easy to mistake the nondescript row of warehouses somewhere near Sanyuanqiao as a wrong address. But enter the bar (if you can find it) and you’ll find yourself immediately at home. Folks at the bar craft cocktails entirely off-menu, so come prepared with an inkling of what you’d like to have. Prices go anywhere upwards of RMB75, and the sky’s the limit for imagination, but if you’re still antsy about going entirely off the rails – take up an Old Fashioned (RMB85++) and have at it with their whiskey selection.
Mohiki 1%ers is located at 8 Xiaoyun Lu, Chaoyang, Chaoyang, p. +86 10 152 1040 0589. Opens daily, 6pm-2am.
The Madarin Oriental’s very own late-night lounge offers superb outdoor terrace views of the iconic Forbidden City. With luxurious ambiance comes equally indulgent tipples, inspired by different quarters of the cultural quarter. The Mint Condition (RMB108) is inspirited by Beijing’s architecture and the alcoholic equivalent of an After Eight: Valrhona chocolate redistilled Amaro liqueur, balanced with Lillet Blanc, mint, and thyme oil. The Sunset Hunter (RMB118) reflects the molten dusk sun with Flor de Caña rum, Fernet Hunter bitters, lime juice and syrup.
MO Bar is located at 2/F, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Wangfu Central East Block, 269 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, p. +86 10 8509 8850. Opens daily, 5pm-1am.
Dandy Room offers quiet respite from the flurry of activity that befalls the street of Xinyuan Jie. Plush interiors on the first floor welcome guests, while a private karaoke room on the second entice many to stay. Fronted by its affiliate bespoke menswear boutique, drinks by Jerry Xin (previously from D lounge) are appropriately named after men’s fashion wear. Prices may be stiffer than the usual, going anywhere upwards of RMB100, but well worth the coin. The Pinstripe (RMB138) colours a basic Monkey’s Shoulder G&T with notes of thyme and blackberry, while the Navy Blazer (RMB110) highball is a potent grog of high proof gin, basil, cocoa, lemon and sugar.
Dandy Room is located at 1/F, Shop 103, 63 Xinyuan Street, Chaoyang District, p. +86 10 157 1008 2858. Opens daily, 7pm-2am.
Union is boutique hotel The Opposite House’s newest resident. Romantic and embellished with a crystal chandelier, the menu presents a journey down the ancient Silk Road, with drinks priced at RMB98 each. Stop by the Genghis Khan Martini for a hit of Mongolian kumis (fermented milk) and coconut, bask in Grecian yogurt with the Santorini Fizz, or warm up with the Tom Yum 2.0 (which sources say cuts pretty close): lemongrass, kaffir lime, coconut milk, and white rum.
Union is located at Level 1, The Opposite House, Taikoo Li Sanlitun North, No.11 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100027, p. +86 10 6410 5180. Opens daily, 11am-1am.
Moving out from the hotel next door, Golden Promise resides on the second floor of The Crib – Beijing’s multi-storey megamall of food and beverage. Sitting pretty beside Mediterranean tapas restaurant Sorì, the luxuriant whiskey bar offers soft jazz and even softer sofas for guests to lounge and partake in a multitude of single malts and bespoke cocktails. Rare malts will cost you a pretty penny at RMB200-300 a dram, while cocktails come sans menu at about RMB150,crafted specific to each individual’s tastes. You’ll probably want to make a stop here for a spot of self-indulgence – it’s not one for the bar-hopping budgeteer.
Golden Promise is located at 2/F, The Crib, 1 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District, p. +86 10 187 0111 3837. Opens daily, 7pm-2am.
China’s national spirit, once usually only drunk at banquets, has forged new territories in the cocktail world. Baijiu flavours can span from light and fragrant to heavy and saucy, and Capital Spirits, newly relocated to the Lonfusi District, offers a range of twists on the potent spirit. Cafe by day and baijiu-boutique by night, those new to the spirit can first attempt a Flight as a warm up, before diving in the deep end. Not a fan of going neat? The Beijing Bull makes for a great introduction, with a serve of ginger-infused baijiu, ginger ale, and lime.
Capital Spirits is located at Block E No.7，First Floor，Longfu Building，No.95 Longfusi Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, p. +86 10 138 1108 9547. Open Tue-Thu and Sun 8pm-12am, Fri-Sat 8pm-2am.
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