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First Look: Capital Spirits

New Gulou Baijiu bar offers a new take on the much-maligned spirit

What is it It’s very likely that Capital Spirits will be simply referred to as ‘the baijiu bar.’ The dimly lit space boasts a growing collection of baijiu, organised by ingredients and aroma. The goal of the passionate owners is to make you appreciate the spirit – a challenging feat when most newcomers compare the taste and fragrance to that of a sweaty gym sock. The project is the brainchild of Bill Isler, the guy behind Kokomo back in the day.


What’s on the menu? Baijiu, and lots of it. They sell it in flights of four (30-50RMB), with mellower tones in a rice variety to the heavy, pungent kick of a soy-sauce brew. The point is to teach you which one you’ll appreciate, and which ones you can leave for April Fools' Day. There are also decent lower-end Chinese beers like Tsingtao Gold and Tsingtao Stout, as well as a small selection of upmarket whiskeys (about 50RMB) and tequilas. He also distills his own hooch, reducing Yanjing until it smells like beer, but tastes like vodka. It’s got the puckering strength of the latter.

We say It’s an interesting venture into seldom-travelled territory. The renovated hutong set-up needs a bit more polish before they will be able to tempt in baijiu virgins, though.

Capital Spirits 3 Daju Hutong, Dongcheng district. See the full address.

  • 4 out of 5 stars