Beijing’s Central Business District is a maze of steel and concrete – all office buildings, malls, and the Third Ring Road. But if you know where to go, there are a number of great bars where you can unwind with a drink (or three). From whiskey joints to speakeasies, check out the best drinking holes in the CBD.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, British, $$$
Located on the 80th floor of China World Tower, Atmosphere is a chic bar with unbeatable views of the city. The highest bar in Beijing is suitably upmarket with a wide collection of single malts and handcrafted cocktails. A classy live band and stylish design adds to the – you guessed it – atmosphere. If you want to impress visitors, take them here and feel on top of the world (or Beijing, at least).
Centro, part of Kerry Hotel, is an elegant yet easy-going bar and lounge with an excellent cocktail selection. With a live jazz band, a range of relaxing spaces to sit and an outdoor terrace, it’s the perfect spot to spend the evening in the CBD.
With sparkling views across the CBD, Mei is a popular party spot. The bar offers creative Asia-inspired cocktails (the lychee syrup and lemongrass liquer-infused Pan Asian Spritzer is delightful), delicious tapas, and nightly specials. Meanwhile, the venue’s wooden floors, multiple fireplaces and exposed brickwork add warmth and a touch of elegance.
To break down the barrier between bartender and patron, Straight Spirit decided to forgo the physical bar. The result? An attractive, cosy space that sells whiskey and other liquor by the bottle at offensively cheap prices (like ¥376 (around £40) for a bottle of Balvenie DoubleWood 12). For those not after a bottle, samples of whiskey and barrel-aged cocktails are also available. The genuinely warm and knowledgeable service is a bonus. Not a ‘bar’ in the literal sense, Straight Spirit is something much better.
With its casual, pub-like atmosphere, Beersmith is the perfect spot to grab a pint after work. The beer is brewed on the premises in twelve massive tanks, representing the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. If you’re hungry, pair your beer with ribs, beer-battered fries or a Wagyu beef burger. Sports fans will appreciate the multiple TV screens dedicated to screening the latest matches.
This off-the-beaten track speakeasy is neither easy to find nor easy to enter (hint: dial #7 on the antique telephone in the foyer for admittance). However, Inside Bar’s distinctive, well-made cocktails ensure it’s worth the trek. Try a specialty cocktail, notable for their use of Chinese ingredients such as Chinese yellow wine (Huangjiu), or stick to one of the bar’s well-priced classic cocktails. Retro-style design and impeccable service further elevate the space.
44 Lounge is a fresh and a fun take on the ‘apartment bar’, while the minimalist decor ensures the cocktails stand out. The signature drink is the No. 44, an invigorating citrus, rum and chocolate mix. The space comes complete with a 14-meter-long bar and a spacious terrace, which offers some of the best outdoor views of the city. When you get there, head to room 3204, building 6.
A speakeasy of tiny proportions, Frank by Ala House serves up tasty cocktails and live jazz (Wednesdays and Fridays only) in an intimate space. The drinks are a revelation; the spicy tom yong goong is particularly impressive, while the environment has a decidedly retro and down-to-earth feel. The bar’s narrow size makes it an ideal place for a date.
Sitting on the 65th floor, the Park Hyatt’s China Bar has some of the best views of Beijing. Guests will be treated to stunning vistas of the CBD, Beijing’s historic Chang’an Avenue and, in the distance, the iconic Tiananmen Square. A wide range of wine and cocktails are bound to impress even the most discerning drinker, while the bar’s ultra-cool vibe is complemented by attentive service and a live band.