Drinking and nightlife in Beijing

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

    Bear Brew

    Run by two affable, aproned Chinese bears (who speak excellent English), this gay-friendly hutong hangout pours a host of house creations such as a 24-hour cold brew with Coke, a ‘dirty’ (espresso shot dumped on iced milk) and the usual range of espresso and pour-over coffees. The rooftop terrace, with its poetry-inspiring views of the White Dagoba Temple, is glorious on a sunny afternoon.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

    Nuoyan Wine Bar

    Move aside, Merlot, it's mǐjiǔ time! Try something new at this rustic tavern specialising in Chinese wine made from glutinous rice (米酒; mǐjiǔ), a delicately sweet tipple that's the same potency as sherry. There's no English menu, but you'll be given a tot of several types (rose, plum, osmanthus, aged etc) from which to choose a bottle (380ml, ¥150 to ¥220).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

    Great Leap Brewing #6

    Lost in a maze of alleys east of Houhai, this tumbledown courtyard is where Beijing's craft-beer scene first burped into life back in the heady, pre-Xi days of 2010. The bar, with its lovely walled yard, remains Beijing's most atmospheric spot for a pint. Choose from a chalkboard list of locally inspired creations such as Honey Ma Gold, with its Sichuan peppercorns and Shandong honey.

  • Nightlife in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

    Great Leap Brewing #45

    Raise a flagon of Beijing's original and best craft beer at this industrial-chic outpost of Great Leap, a couple of clicks north of the Sanlitun action. A chalkboard lists the myriad beer styles on tap, which are best paired with the fabulous New York–style pizza (¥110 to ¥140 for a 16-inch monster). Non-drinkers are catered for with the craft ginger soda, a spiced-up sensation.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Dashilar & Xicheng South

    Soloist Coffee Co

    Partway down a gentrifying hutong is this exquisite coffee roaster and cafe, born here as a pop-up during Beijing's annual Design Week, and now a small chain. Supposedly once a public bathhouse (the building is decades old), the cafe these days deals out liquid relief of the caffeinated kind, hawking a gourmet selection of coffee-based drinks, including cocktails such as 'cold brew gin tonic'.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

    Dada

    Ever since this Shanghai export touched down in 2012, Dada has become Beijing's premier venue for esoteric, bass-heavy beats, while remaining unpretentious and divey enough for the casual party-goer. By combining an imaginative line-up of DJs at weekends with a commitment to keeping entry at around ¥60, Dada gets the party vibe spot on.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

    Arch Bar

    First-rate cocktails come with a first-class price tag at this exquisite cocktail bar hidden inside the Duan Qirui Former Government Building compound. Arch plays on its historical location with exposed beams, a 100-year-old brick feature wall, and a private room styled with Chinese folk art.

  • Nightlife in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

    Slow Boat Brewery

    Drop anchor at Slow Boat, one of Beijing's original American-run craft brewers, for three floors of busy, beery fun. At least a dozen beers are on tap at any time; Monkey's Fist IPA and Zombie Pirate Pale Ale are menu mainstays and good points of embarkation into the frothy seas ahead.

  • Nightlife in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

    La Social

    Day of the Dead meets Chairman Mao at this carnivalesque hotspot where revellers dance to Latin beats. Cocktails (from ¥60) are heavy-handed with the tequila, which you can soak up with Colombian arepes (grilled dough 'sandwiches' with various fillings).

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

    MO Bar

    Legendary bar Hope and Sesame from Guangzhou, voted one of Asia's best bars in 2019, crafted the molecular-style cocktail list at MO Bar, an uber-glam hangout in the Mandarin Oriental. Arrive early to bag a terrace table for the chance to see the sun set behind the Forbidden City.

  • Nightlife in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

    NBeer Pub

    The flagship bar of an all-Chinese craft brewer, NBeer is a Beijing original pouring sours, stouts and every style in between. If you only try one (good luck with that), make it the award-winning Beijing Gose Modern, a sour wheat beer brewed with coriander, salt and star anise. Bar nibbles include burgers, spicy Sichuan sausage and lamb-skewer pizza.

  • Nightlife in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

    Bookworm

    Any author of note passing through Beijing will give a talk at the Bookworm, a beacon in the city's international literary scene since 2005. You can thumb through some 10,000 books (including a comprehensive China section) over coffee and cake, while most evenings have events, from poetry readings to comedy improv shows.

  • Nightlife in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

    Jing-A Brewpub

    A stylish setting for a raucous night out, the flagship of Beijing-born craft-beer brand Jing-A is meticulously on-trend and unashamedly American – but with China-inspired brews and cocktail recipes from local bartenders. Sup your way through a lineup of house beers such as Airpocalypse IPA (with pollution discount for hazy days), Mandarin Wheat and Worker's Pale Ale.

  • Nightlife in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

    Cinker Pictures

    At this sophisticated nightlife concept, bartenders mix cocktails inspired by classic films (the ‘Dude’s’ White Russian is sexed-up with mole bitters and vanilla cream), while a modern European menu (mains ¥68 to ¥268) treats Sanlitun socialites to sharing platters of crisp-skinned suckling pig and blackened grilled prawns. The twist in the tale is the adjoining retro-styled cinema showing up to three (mostly classic) films nightly.

  • Nightlife in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

    Arrow Factory Brewing

    Run by veteran British expat Will, Arrow Factory combines inventive craft ales with impeccable pub grub, served in a two-tiered building with a roof terrace facing the Liangma River. Choose from a dozen or so locally inspired beers brewed off-site and hearty repasts such as pie and mash, full English breakfast, and haddock and chips. Book three days ahead for the Sunday roast.

  • Nightlife in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

    1901 Cafe

    This baroque-style, three-storey townhouse is a late-Qing gem that's barely changed inside or out since it was built in 1901, hence the name. It was donated to the Cathedral of Our Saviour nearby a few years later, and served as Beijing’s centre for Catholic Action until 1949. Today it's a whimsical cafe where you can while away hours at invitingly mismatched tables under wooden eaves.

  • Nightlife in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

    Tiki Bungalow

    You can almost feel the warm ocean breeze at this quintessential Tiki bar – or that could just be the heat from its flaming rum cocktails, served, appropriately, in skull-shaped mugs or even sharing 'volcanoes'. Despite a change of ownership in 2018, the coconut-laced cocktails remain on point, and the boatload of sipping rums would keep Jack Sparrow busy for weeks.

  • Nightlife in Dashilar & Xicheng South

    Berry Beans

    Meticulously fussy coffee is the draw at this little hutong gem, part of a building that once offered more sybaritic pleasures (it was a Republic-era bordello, one of many in the neighbourhood). Contemplate that as you sip a hive-honey iced coffee (¥68): Ethiopian single origin poured over an orb of coffee ice, with a frozen tuile of honeycomb nesting on top.

  • Nightlife in Drum Tower & Dongcheng North

    Nina

    Set up for aperitivo with a bar list that boasts spritz, snacks and multiple variations on the Negroni cocktail, this charmingly simple hutong bar pulls in a hip crowd of Italian expats who gather at the wooden bar or smoke in the alley.

  • Nightlife in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

    Lotus Cafe & Bar

    At this popular rooftop cafe with seating indoors and out, your coffee, cake or sandwich is served with a side order of eye candy: the White Dagoba Temple, all 59 curvaceous metres of it, lording it over temple halls and surrounding hutong. With craft beer and wine available too, it's a super spot for sundowner drinks. Find it above the Pagoda Light hostel.