Love it or hate it, Sanlitun’s nightlife scene is a peculiar hodgepodge of bars that range from cheap neon-lit drinking holes with questionable alcohol where you’d never want to be caught dead unless you’re a clueless tourist to high-end cocktail lounges with spectacular roof terraces, professional mixologists and world class drinks. While the area does have a solid offering of places that fit comfortably between the aforementioned extremes (e.g. First Floor, Nearby the Tree, Paddy O’Shea’s, Luga’s Villa to name but a few), a handful of bars have been injecting the area with a much-needed dose of quality. Yes, their drinks may come with a price tag as big as your meal, but with guaranteed real alcohol, innovative drink menus and impressive décor, the following cocktail bars in Sanlitun truly offer bang for your buck.
Photo: Michael Korcuska
1) RevolutionView In Map
This tiny bar just west of Yashow makes up for its lack of seating and floor space by its good quality, innovative cocktail menu. Not surprising, the colour red features heavily in its drinks selection, achieved with the help of innovative ingredients like raspberry jam. Some baijiu based cocktails are also on offer, which certainly help to dispel the myth that anything with baijiu in it must taste bad. As the name suggests, a Cultural Revolution theme runs through its drinks and dimly lit décor. Down to earth and low-key, the bar staff is professional and friendly and the alcohol is definitely real. As far as prices go, Revolution’s prices are reasonable with drinks costing around 50 RMB on average. The bar closes at 1am and seating is limited, so get here early if you want to make the most of it.
Add：West side of Yashow Market, Gongti Beilu, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District Beijing
Tel: 010 6415 8776
Opening hours: 12:00-01:00
2) MilesView In Map
One of the newest offerings in Sanlitun’s cocktail bar scene, Miles is the latest bar from Revolution brainchild Xiao Ming. Giving off a Prohibition Era vibe, this bar is serious about its cocktails and whiskey selection with spirits literally stacked up to the ceiling. Drinks are a little pricier than at Revolution, at 60-70 RMB per cocktail on average, but with real alcohol, a pleasant mix of Chinese and foreign clientele and delicious creations (such as vodka with elderflower syrup and fresh lime), Miles is a welcome addition to Sanlitun’s nightlife family.
Add: 100 metres west of the Sanlitun Police Station, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 131 6111 8808
Opening hours: 18：00-late, daily
3) ApothecaryView In Map
Apothecary’s been around for a while now, but their cocktails have remained some of the best in town. Its sleek interior compliments the intricacy of the mixology magic behind each drink and their award-winning Creole-inspired food is an extra bonus for a bar that no longer has to prove its worth in terms of quality. And for those with friends who insist on drinking beer-only, Apothecary added an impressive selection of top-quality imports to their drinks menu. Prices aren’t cheap, but quality is guaranteed.
Add: 3F, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 5208 6040
Opening hours: 18:00-late, Daily
4) Cicada Ultra LoungeView In Map
This chic lounge bar is a popular destination for Beijing’s well heeled, with excellent cocktails and prices to match. Their Kiss of Cicada, made with a rum and peach base is a popular choice, as are their sherry and brandy based concoctions. With cocktails selling for around 80-90 RMB a pop and bottles of champagne upwards of 6000 RMB, it’s not difficult to ascertain the kind of clientele this bar is trying to attract. Nevertheless, for those who don’t mind splurging on quality drinks, while having the option to let loose on the dance floor to a good sound system in the heart of Sanlitun, Cicada ticks the right boxes.
Add: N4-33 Tai Koo Li Sanlitun North, 11 Sanlitun Road
Tel: 010 6418 9898
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs, 18:00-02:00; Fri-Sat, 18:00-03:00
5) MigasView In Map
Hardly in need of an introduction, Migas has been somewhat of a star in the Sanlitun nightlife circuit, hosting some of the hottest parties in town. Among its offerings are an amazing to-see-and-to-be-seen rooftop terrace, a smaller bar downstairs, great Spanish cuisine, a rocking dance floor, a rotating roster of local DJs spinning soul, funk and disco, and of course an extensive cocktail menu with prices ranging from 50-80 RMB. This venue really comes to life in summer though, when their rooftop parties, Mediterranean twist and refreshing mixed drinks attract what seems like the bulk of Sanlitun punters.
Add: 6F, Nali Patio, Sanlitun Beijie, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 5208 6061
Opening hours: 20:00-late, daily
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Keywords: Sanlitun nightlife quality alcohol Sanlitun cocktail bars in Sanlitun
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