3 to try...again: Beijing's comeback bars

These drinking stalwarts are back with new locations

Like a phoenix from the bricks, these three fave drink spots are back with new Dongcheng digs.

Da Xiao (大小)

Having been expelled from the hutongs just months after opening, the hip coffee roasters at Da Xiao have relocated to the eastern edge of Jingshan Park. The new digs are bigger and greener than the original blue Beixinqiao edition, and maybe we just resent change, but it didn’t feel quite as cool or cosy. There is however now the addition of bottled beers for evening drinks and – when we visited – a pretty free-for-all policy on BYO snacks or full takeaway meals. The coffee is still good and on the cheaper side for a trendy grind, and they let you choose between a Yunnan or an Ethiopian bean.

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16 Shatan Houjie

Capital Spirits and The Distillery

Two of Beijing’s finest cocktail spots, always under the same management, have merged into one hutong bar that’s even more hidden away than The Distillery was, in a courtyard just across the alleyway. The new venture is just as cosy-but-still-classy as its late mama and papa bars, with excellent cocktails to boot. The focus is on baijiu, with creative cocktails that are distinctive, but subtle enough to coax even the staunchest of baijiu avoiders. The Paper Crane (60RMB), a kind of baijiu-based negroni with Aperol and Amaro, is a sophisticated sip, while the Baijiu Sour (40RMB) is strong, subtle and ridiculously affordable. There are also plenty of non-baijiu drinks here to keep everyone happy, but it’s worth trying the baijiu flights, which offer a range of tasters starting at just 30RMB (going up to 180RMB). Being so discreet and such good value, this is the kind of place that feels like an insider’s secret.

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16 Xinsi Hutong

Fang Bar

Another victim of the summer brickings, Fang has moved from its eponymous hutong to a new spot just south of Gulou Dong Dajie. As with the original, the focus is on unique cocktails that draw upon Chinese flavours; expect ingredients like red bean paste in the Monkey King (65RMB) and Beijing suannai in the Dharma Rum (65RMB). It’s not just gimmicky elements, though – these bevs are carefully balanced and pack a boozy punch. The new space is bigger than the original, although that’s not saying a lot, so it still feels cosy and intimate, and the posters of Beijing gigs and venues gone by that plaster the walls add to the feeling of being part of the local community. Monday and Tuesday are buy-two-get-one free on cocktails and whiskies; with such a central location and strong community ties, we reckon the new Fang is downright Fangtastic.

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1 Shoubi Hutong (Dongcheng, Dongcheng)

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