It could be said that 4Corners hides multiple personalities within its warren of rooms. When taken as a whole, its bar, restaurant, music and courtyard space combine to form an ultra-hip hangout. Weekly open mics, quiz nights and storytelling sessions plus live music on the weekends make it a Gulou destination.
A small, ramshackle courtyard with bags of character, Amilal is the archetypal hidden hutong gem. Hodgepodge antique furniture, original architectural features and the occasional impromptu jam on traditional Chinese instruments from regulars make Amilal stand out from the generic crowd. The bar is lined with a selection of whisky, including some rarer bottles – somehow priced at 50RMB.
This one-of-a-kind baijiu bar boasts a rustic, elegantly lit space decorated with a smattering of well-chosen antiques. If you can set aside your preconceptions about baijiu long enough to get in the front door, Capital Spirits will change the way you think about what is now the most widely produced spirit in the world.
The second project from the guys behind baijiu bar Capital Spirits, The Distillery is a more refined, keyed-up version of the flagship and has wasted no time making a name for itself.
As the name suggests, the real draw is the house-made liquor. The bar’s first available in-house spirit is a heady, full-bodied beast of a gin and it also boasts a fine collection of speciality gins from around the world.
This tiny bar (even for hutong standards) might be decidedly laidback, but don’t think for a moment that the team don’t take their drinks seriously. In what has become the bar’s unofficial tagline, they serve ‘serious drinks for not so serious people’ – and they aren’t kidding. Fang has quickly made a name for itself for its signature cocktails and house specialities.
The original in the Great Leap series, this hidden hutong gem is a microbrewery pub serving delicious Beijing-brewed draught beer. It's an ideal summertime location with an iconic courtyard, but also a cosy, recently renovated interior for cold winter nights. A reminder of Great Leap's humble beginnings.
This trendy hutong cocktail spot has remained a mainstay on the scene for over six years thanks to its inventive creations and fun twists on the classics. The prices are some of the best in the city (most cocktails 40-50RMB) with popular Wednesday night specials from 35RMB bringing in quite the crowd. Signature drinks like the Mala Mule and the Sichuan Highway were some of the first cocktails in the city to popularise the use of local ingredients.
A Latin-inspired hutong tapas and cocktail bar specialising in daiquiris. The 30-plus strong cocktail menu means there's always something to tickle your fancy and the trio of owners are particularly warm and affable. On summertime evenings, Mas hosts outdoor barbecues and attracts a loyal following of Beixinqiao locals.
Over the years, Parisian-styled bar Modernista has attracted a loyal crowd with a programme of live music and creative events – not to mention a vast selection of absinthe to keep things interesting. After shutting up shop for four months in early 2015, the europhile favourite returned bigger than before – in fact, doubling in size – with a new jazzy cocktail bar slinging a number of seasonal signature cocktails and loads more space for dancing and live music.
Ron Mexico is a snug, two-storey neighbourhood whisky and cocktail bar packed with community feels and palpable cheer. It's the only bar in the city to serve locally brewed Buzz beer (25RMB a bottle); a far superior alternative to your Tiger or Tsingtao. Ron's also got you covered if you're after something craftier by way of a fetch-your-own fridge at the entrance. Choose from a list of seasonal cocktails or go ahead and create your own.
The Bahama hat-clad team at Bungalow brought something truly new to Beijing when they first opened their doors last year, expertly mixing up fixtures from the '30s and '40s that launched the tiki drink trend in southern California. The menu features over 60 different drinks, many of which are found nowhere else in the city. If you close your eyes and pound back a few happy hour cocktails, you might just believe you're on a sun-lounger by the sea.