Boozy Beijing is home to one of Asia’s most exciting bar scenes. Whether you plan to visit hotel bars, distilleries or dance clubs, Culture Trip has picked the top 10 spots to have a tipple in the Chinese capital.
Classy cocktail joints, non-stop nightclubs, friendly pubs, world-class live music venues, microbreweries, craft distilleries: whatever you’re craving, the Chinese capital has a bar to quench your thirst.
The fashionable embassy district of Sanlitun in Beijing is sprinkled with stylish speakeasies, but Infusion Room stands out from the crowd. Behind a hidden door on the second floor of cocktail joint D Lounge, guests will find an industrial-chic venue where a friendly team whips up one of Beijing’s most inventive drinks lists – look forward to cocktails that incorporate ingredients such as oolong tea and kombu (edible kelp).
The quaint hutongs of the Gulou District represent the beating heart of Beijing’s live-music scene, and no venue is more famous than Dusk Dawn Club. Found inside a historic siheyuan structure but with an ultra-modern fit-out, DDC’s mission is to support local creatives – grab a drink and peruse the exhibition space, or sip on a cocktail on the veranda bar and appreciate the live music on the stage.
Beijing’s production line of luxury hotels has given rise to a raft of great new cocktail bars, including this chic whiskey joint. Situated just south of the trendy and tourist-friendly 798 Art District, Xian Bar prides itself on its fridges full of craft beer and regular live-music gigs, as well as its enormous collection of premium imported whiskeys, which are best enjoyed on the al fresco terrace overlooking a park below.
When asked what the most popular spirit in the world is, most people might answer whiskey or vodka, or perhaps even rum. But the correct answer is baijiu, a liquor distilled from grain that has an enormous fan base in China. The taste might not be for everyone, but the best place to try baijiu in the Chinese capital is Capital Spirits, a craft distillery that makes its baijiu on-site and serves it as part of a range of traditional and inventive cocktails in a cosy Dongcheng hutong bar.
If you’re looking for a sophisticated night out, you should give the bars in the Wudaokou neighbourhood a wide berth. But if you’re searching for cheap drinks, loud music and a pumping dance floor, look no further than Beijing’s student hub. Propaganda is one of Wudaokou’s most legendary 24-hour nightspots – the oven-like temperatures on the downstairs dance floor are particularly notorious among university students.
There are no surprises about the drinks offering at this Chaoyang bar: it’s beer, beer and more beer. Like a little corner of Brussels transplanted into Beijing, Beer Mania curates a collection of dozens of Belgian brews, such as tart cherry-flavoured Kriek beers, bottles by legendary brewer Delirium and monk-made Trappist beers. And the Belgian specialities don’t end there – you can sink your teeth into the waffles, fries and sausages on the food menu, too.
The Workers’ Stadium in northeast Beijing – known as Gongti to the locals – attracts two groups of people every weekend: football fans and party animals. While the sports nuts are there to see Beijing Guoan play against rival teams, the revellers pile into the dozens of glamorous nightclubs that surround the stadium, and Elements is at the top of the list. This Gongti favourite guarantees a crowded dance floor moving to the big-name line-up of DJs and EDM stars.
Staring at the glittering CCTV building from the five-star luxury of the Rosewood Hotel, punters soon realise that MEI is a hotel bar that’s anything but boring. The huge whiskey, wine and cocktail selection and the team of talented mixologists attract a young professional crowd to the intimate lounges and the spacious outdoor terrace, which gazes over Beijing’s loftiest skyscrapers.
This underground live-music venue lost some of its grungy charm when it moved from Gulou to Wukesong in Beijing’s west in 2017, but the star-studded line-ups haven’t changed. Mao Livehouse still attracts a quality roster of artists from China and abroad – gig tickets are cheap, the sound system is world-class and the venue itself oozes cool.
This is an updated version of a story created by Katherine Lee.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.