Craft beer connoisseurs and cocktail enthusiasts should visit Chaoyang district when in Beijing, where you’ll find a diverse selection of bars to choose from.
With sub-districts including nightlife spot Sanlitun, financial centre Guomao and arty Jiuxianqiao, Chaoyang is home to some of the city’s best bars and pubs. Here’s where to have a relaxing drink or an evening out in the area.
Mokihi No. 3
Bar, American, $$$
Sanlitun’s often overlooked 3.3 mall is full of hidden treasures, including Mokihi No. 3. Located behind a vintage clothing store on the sixth floor, the speakeasy has a charming retro design. Quirky, poetic verse accompanies each cocktail description – the Rose and the Bear, a gin, rice wine and aloe vera honey mix, declares: “In my heart hard open one gun” – while vintage posters and leather couches adorn the space.
East Hotel’s XIAN is a lush multi-space bar that offers quality drinks and food. During summer, XIAN’s outdoor terrace hosts a craft beer bar called the Craft Container, which serves the city’s top brews. Inside, a separate games room offers plenty of entertainment in the form of a pool table, a foosball table and arcade games. XIAN also regularly hosts live music. Close to 798 Art District and connected to Indigo Mall, XIAN is a relaxing stop after a day of gallery-hopping or shopping.
Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Gastropub, Pub, Pub Grub, Asian, $$$
Great Leap’s Liangmaqiao branch offers the unbeatable combination of craft beer and pizza. Larger than Great Leap’s original hutong location (GLB #6), #45 even includes a rooftop terrace, making it perfect for groups. The bar’s world-class brews include a range of ales, pale ales, porters and pilsners, plus seasonal and collab brews. In addition to 10 New York-style pizzas, the kitchen also serves up delicious burgers and fries. Grab a beer and order pizza by the slice to sample as much as possible.
The Local is exactly what its name suggests – a reliable neighbourhood joint that offers solid drinks and tasty pub food in a casual setting. Centrally located in Sanlitun, The Local attracts a diverse crowd thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and sports-friendly vibe – there are multiple TVs, a massive projector, a pool table and a dartboard. While the range of local and imported beer is a huge draw, don’t overlook the cocktails – the margarita is hugely satisfying, especially when paired with the buttermilk fried chicken and buffalo wings. The Local also holds events throughout the year, including Super Bowl watching parties and family-friendly market days.
The only bar in Beijing to make Asia’s 50 Best Bar list, a feat it achieved in both 2017 and 2018, Janes + Hooch is a high-end cocktail bar hidden in a courtyard off Sanlitun’s busy main street. Spread over two levels, the bar’s aesthetic is vintage glamour – all wood, brick and concrete – attracting well-dressed patrons. The drinks, meanwhile, are well-crafted and unique. Try the delightfully tart 50 Shades of Oolong, an oolong-infused Tanqueray, lemon and egg concoction.
Sanlitun cocktail bar Scandal is the love child of your Pinterest and Instagram feeds, complete with hot-pink neon sign, marble countertops and palm tree decorations. The airy space has high ceilings and includes a mezzanine, DJ area and projector screen. This fresh and fun atmosphere is reflected in Scandal’s innovative drinks, which are named after their dominant flavour (Almond, Pandan, Curry Leaf) and made using novel methods like sous vide.
Established in 2007 in the heart of Beijing’s embassy district, Irish sports pub Paddy O’Shea’s is a stalwart of the Beijing drinking scene. The bar screens all kinds of sports, including football and rugby, while the good-natured bar staff happily pour Guinness. The environment is suitably casual and, at times, rowdy, with daily events including stand-up comedy, e-sports and quiz nights.
Slow Boat is one of Beijing’s premier craft brewers, growing from a tiny hutong pub to its current three-level flagship in Sanlitun. The gigantic pub, which brews on-site using 18 tanks, features three bars and loads of seating (though it’s often packed). With 20 different beers on tap, there’s plenty to choose from. If you’re feeling peckish, try Slow Boat’s award-winning Fryburger, a beef patty topped with beer-battered fries and aioli sauce.
What Sanlitun bar La Social lacks in size, it makes up for in personality. The Latin American-inspired bar is decorated with colourful murals, while a mishmash of Catholic paraphernalia and Mao memorabilia decorate the space. Cocktails are refreshingly no-nonsense – try the Juanderful Gin and Tonic for a fruity pineapple twist on the classic. The party spot also serves up arepas, a South American street food sandwich made of cornflour and stuffed with juicy fillings.
Located on the top floor of the 80-storey China World Summit Wing hotel, Atmosphere is worth visiting for the view alone, though the prime window tables must be booked in advance. Overlooking Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD) and beyond, the upmarket bar manages to feel both intimate yet secluded. Expect an impressive whisky list and diligent service – add a live band and tasty snacks, and you have all the ingredients for a memorable (or, at least, photo-worthy) night out.
For a night of dancing against the sparkling backdrop of the China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Rosewood Hotel’s Mei bar is a must-visit. The sophisticated spot features live music, an outdoor terrace and great drink deals. While the central bar and DJ area can veer into nightclub territory during later hours, the wine and whisky rooms are quieter alternatives.
One of the best rooftop spots in Beijing, Migas Mercado is a popular restaurant and bar in Guomao’s China World Mall shopping complex. The bar’s chic seventh-floor terrace overlooks the CBD skyline, including the CCTV headquarters, and offers various seating options, as well as a dance floor with a DJ. Or you can wine and dine inside; whatever you do, make sure to try the restaurant’s flavourful Spanish cuisine, like paella, tapas and iberian pork.