From Argentina to Zimbabwe, most of Beijing’s embassies are in Sanlitun – and where there are embassies, there are bars. Whether you’re thirsty for a Colombian cocktail, a British beer or a Chinese chocolate Martini, these are the best bars in Sanlitun.
Janes and Hooch
Cocktail Bar, Cocktails
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Speakeasy-style cocktail joints are springing up all over Beijing, but this one is an institution. The decor – the wall of liquor bottles behind the bar, the polished concrete and exposed brick, a moody candlelit atmosphere and comfy leather booths – tells you everything you need to know about Janes and Hooch. All in all, it’s the perfect setting in which to sip on an old fashioned.
Beijing’s craft-beer scene is exploding, and this ultra-modern brewpub is an exciting new addition. Opening its doors on South Sanlitun Road in late 2016, Slow Boat has three industrial-chic storeys packed full of beer drinkers working their way through the ever-rotating roster of craft beers sourced from domestic and international brewers. The pub-grub menu is also a massive crowd-pleaser.
The glitzy nightclubs surrounding the Workers’ Stadium – or Gongti to the locals – can be hit and miss, but Elements always delivers a great night out. Pouring cheaper drinks than many of Sanlitun’s more upscale clubs, Elements attracts a lively crowd who flock to the dance floor to experience some of the biggest DJs and EDM stars from around China and across the globe.
Mesh might be a hotel bar, but it’s anything but boring. Part of the futuristic Opposite House hotel, it is a chic lounge where Sanlitun socialites come to see and be seen, especially on sunny summer days when the leafy outdoor patio is crowded with glamorous clientele. Mesh’s extensive wine list is also one of the best you’ll find anywhere in the Chinese capital.
The team at Latin American restaurant Mosto transformed one of its old storerooms into a bar in 2016, adding a splash of Colombian spice to this popular part of Nali Patio. You’ll always find a fiesta at La Social’s colourful 40-seat space, which combines South American murals on the walls, cocktails flowing behind the bar and Colombian fare coming out of the kitchen.
Another Nali Patio favourite, Velvet by Verde serves fruity cocktails that go down a treat with the menu of warm and cold tapas. Velvet pioneers ‘gastrobotany’ in China, cooking with plants that you wouldn’t normally expect to find on a menu, but sticks to more familiar ingredients when it comes to the drinks list – the watermelon cocktail is the house specialty.
This lounge bar specialises in beer and whiskey – and lots of it. Situated inside the opulent InterContinental hotel, Top Bar prides itself on a long list of brews and malts from every corner of the globe. The venue supplies a suitably stylish setting to enjoy your tipple, with a spacious outdoor terrace overlooking the streets of Sanlitun below.
This tiny cocktail joint stands out from the many other swanky speakeasies in Sanlitun thanks to the service from the talented team behind the bar. After you’ve made your way through the secret entrance in fellow cocktail bar D Lounge, ask the bartenders what they can whip up for you; Infusion Room doesn’t have an official drinks menu, but the renowned mixologists can create intoxicating concoctions depending on your tastes.
Sitting on the fifth floor of the Topwin Centre, Unico is a modern gastrolounge that gazes out over Sanlitun through its huge floor-to-ceiling windows. The space is spacious and stylish, the food and drink menu is one of the most luxurious in the neighbourhood and there’s a little added extra on top… literally. The Roof is one of Beijing’s hottest rooftop bars, serving cocktails and oysters with a view to match.
This Sanlitun speakeasy doesn’t take itself too seriously. Located on the ground floor of the landmark SoHo building, Red Dog is a treasure trove of eccentric decor that defies description – and the craziness extends to the cocktail menu. Don’t miss the signature Red Dog, which throws together ruby port, Armagnac, cherry brandy, Cointreau and lemon with a dash of Tabasco.