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Beijing, China — I was just asked to recommend a good place to grab a drink in Beijing with a work colleague. Here’s my unassuming list for when mood meets locale.
- Apothecary — This has soon become my “Cheers,” where [almost] everyone knows your name. An exhaustive list of creative and standard cocktails. Located in a building that seemingly transports you out of Beijing, it’s an easy go-to spot after shopping, dinner or homing in like a pigeon after busy day.
D302, 3rd Floor, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Bei Lu / 5208 6040 / Open 7pm-last call Tue-Sat; 6pm-last call Sun / Cash only / 朝阳区三 里屯北路81号D302三层
- Amilal — I’m partial to most things antiquated. I like my drink with a little time travel. Set in Gulou’s hutongs, it offers a few intimate wood-furnished rooms dimly lit with old lamps. Serving mostly Scotch and wines, it’s a nice little hideaway and perfect for conversation.
48 Shoubi Hutong, Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng district / Open 6pm-late daily / 8404-1416 / 东城区鼓楼东大街寿比胡同48号
- China Bar —Impress friends or colleagues from out of town with a view from the 65th floor. If you’re blessed with blue skies in Beijing, perch yourself here.
65th Floor, Park Hyatt Beijing, 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang district /Open 5pm-1am daily / 8567 1234 / 北京柏悦酒店, 朝阳区建国门外大街2号65层
- Maison Boulud — The trip for me from my home in Chaoyang Park to this chateau-esque restaurant is like taking a drive to the country. If only the property would gravel the driveway, my pretentious fantasy would be complete. The restaurant is amongst my favorites, but the bar is also a nice place to escape for a cocktail, Champagne, or infusion.
Chien Men 23, 23 Qianmen Dong Dajie, Dongcheng district / Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-2pm (lunch), Sat-Sun 11am-4pm (brunch), 6-10pm daily (dinner) / +86 010 6559 9200 / 东城区前门东大街23号
- Face Bar — Sanlitun has for a while had this little oasis to hide within whispering bamboo and a pool table to test sobriety. I come here for an effective Margarita (shaken, not frozen or on the rocks) or John Lennon’s favorite Brandy Alexander. After two Margaritas I think I play pool better and speak a different dialect of any spoken language.
26 Dongcaoyuan, Gongti Nan Lu, Chaoyang / Open afternoon-2am daily / 6551 6788 / 朝阳区工体南路东草园26号
- The Bookworm — Yes, I am listing a bookstore/café. I’m listing places where I would like to have a drink, so that could include my bathtub if capacity didn’t max at two. Two large reading rooms filled with used books and a small bookstore with new books, magazines, and notecards. Every now and then there’s a reading, live music or a talk. There’s Wi-Fi and wine. Cocktails, too.
4 Sanlitun Nan Lu, Chaoyang district / Open 9am-2am daily / 6586 9507 / 朝阳区三里屯南路4号楼
- Stone Boat — During spring, summer, and fall (warm weather) I like to walk to Ritan Park to catch blossoms or lotus in bloom. Stone Boat is a small restaurant serving simple Chinese eats that rests on the pond where grandfathers fish with grandchildren. There’s Wi-Fi, Prosecco, and -friendly wines by bottle and glass.
Lakeside, southwest corner of Ritan Park, Chaoyang / Open 10am-late daily / 6501 9986 / 朝阳区日坛公园里
- Bed Bar — Set in a courtyard with Qing dynasty-inspired furniture tucked into small rooms and cushion seating in the front room, a bike ride to this hutong bar is a special way to spend a summer’s day. I like to order Mojitos and snack on appetizers made in their sister venue located nearby, Café Sambal.
17 Zhangwang Hutong, Jiugulou Dajie, Dongcheng / Open 3pm-2am daily / 8400 1554 / 东城区旧鼓楼大街张旺胡同17号
- East Shore Live Jazz Cafe — This is one of my favorite places to witness passion. Jazz musicians come to jam and battle egos. Some places the music gets better the more you drink. Here, I might claim the drink gets better with the music. It is located along Houhai lake, offering a great walk around it prior to arriving.
Second Floor, Building 2, Qianhai Nanyan, Dianmenwai Dajie Houhai Area / Open 2pm-late daily / 8403 2131 / 东岸咖啡, 西城区地安门外大街前海 南沿2号楼2层
- Punk — When it’s time to raise the decibels and dance to breaks or dubstep, familiars rendezvous here. Hotpot Music nights find me here.
B1, The Opposite House, 11 Sanlitun Bei Lu, Chaoyang district / Open 8pm-3am Tue-Sat / 6410 5222 / 朝阳区三里屯北路11号瑜舍B1