From charming hutong bars to speakeasies, breweries and rooftop retreats, Beijing has an incredible nightlife scene filled with watering holes for every type of tippler. Here are a few of our favorites.
Great Leap Brewing
With three locations across Beijing, Great Leap Brewing is always close at hand. The local brewery prides itself on its world-class creations. These brewmasters have dozens of varieties on draft and new seasonals constantly in the works. Considered a pioneer of Beijing’s craft beer scene, the business kicked off in 2010 with a few signature pours and has continued to innovate over the years, using more and more local Chinese elements and flavors. For example, ingredients in Great Leap’s Iron Buddha Blonde beer include oolong tea from Fujian Province and locally sourced hops and malts. Another special brew, the Little General IPA, contains Qingdao flower hops from Xinjiang Province.
Janes and Hooch
Located in the Sanlitun South nightlife district, you’ll know Janes and Hooch by the unmarked, charcoal-colored entranceway and the well-heeled crowd hanging outside. Once inside, it’s all brass fixtures, leather barstools and warm wood paneling that’ll take you back to the days of Prohibition-era speakeasies.
Known for its creative cocktails and use of seasonal Northern Chinese ingredients, the two-story bar rotates its drink list regularly to keep things interesting. Janes and Hooch is from the same folks who developed the food and beverage offerings at Four-Star The Opposite House Beijing, so if you like what you see, head over to the hotels’ signature bar, Mesh, for a nightcap.
If you’re looking to combine a dose of history with your happy hour, head over to the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Aman at Summer Palace. Just steps from the ancient Summer Palace, the property pays tribute to centuries-old Chinese architecture with pavilions, traditional gardens and a network of internal courtyards. Tucked away within the tranquil premises and surrounded by swaying trees is the Reflection Pavilion bar. Offering indoor and outdoor seating, the bar has a heritage feel and a classic list of cocktails and single-malt whiskies — plus, there’s a cigar lounge inside as well.
Tucked away in the glamorous Rosewood Beijing, MEI is akin to a three-in-one bar experience suited for the city’s most fashionable. Choose from one of the well-appointed drinking dens: a dedicated whisky bar with dapper leather stools and a wall of impressive bottles on display; a cocktail bar featuring a stage setup for live performances and DJs; and a wine lounge connected to a swanky outdoor area.
The alfresco terrace, welcoming to drinkers from every area, features comfortable couches and excellent views of the central business district — if Beijing’s weather is behaving. No matter where you choose to sit, dig into the tapas and enjoy top-notch cocktails, wine and whisky. Don’t miss the negroni or the Mint Julep Smash, both of which offer fresh twists on the classics.
Mao Mao Chong
A charming spot hidden away in Beijing’s Ban Chang Hutong, Mao Mao Chong is easily spotted by the letters MMC displayed on the façade. This cocktail bar has quite the following for its drinks and its pizza. The inventive cocktails play with funky flavor combinations and take inspiration from Asian culinary traditions, using ingredients such as kaffir lime, Thai tea, lemongrass and others. Try the Mala Mule — a refreshing take on the Moscow Mule packed with the spice of Sichuan peppercorns — with a few slices of the bar’s famous pizza.