We tend to be skeptical of apartment bars. They usually pop up red-hot then quietly disappear the moment interest dips below the tolerance of the owner: a temporary novelty that lacks the tenacity to make it as a proper bar. Let us be clear, Botany is not this sort of apartment bar.
The man behind the new, ultra swanky concept hidden within one of Yonglee Plaza’s residential towers, Frankie Zou, formerly of Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB) and private club Domain, knows his customers are looking for distinct, ingredient-driven cocktails that refuse to compromise in the name of speed or budget. The menu at Botany sports the full gamut of big-boy scotches, whiskies, bourbons, ryes and other brown stuff white men love to argue over the proper designations thereof. Still, Botany is a cocktail bar, not a spirit bar. Even if you could happily burn through a couple of hours in the comfort of the plush, leather armchairs in the private cigar room.
Start with a shooter of spicy tomato soup topped with caviar – gratis, of course – before sipping on a black truffle martini (95RMB) made with Yunnan black truffle-infused dark rum and citrus. It has a surprising tartness and warming heat thanks to a rim dusted with Moroccan spices. Next, try the Amortentia (pictured below, 85RMB), which is put under a glass dome before rosemary sprigs are ignited and allowed to permeate the creamy egg-white foam. The herbaceous rosemary builds into a robust aroma and strong finish.
Classics are done with natural aplomb and broken up with bar bites like pâté on rye, Spanish Iberico, and tartine Provencal (a la carte portions available from 120RMB).
For a unique cocktail experience there is nothing quite like Botany right now, least of all in the middle of Sanlitun and at such an approachable price point. Botany is bucking the trend with professional service, a bonkers drinks programme and a tastefully restrained atmosphere that’s good for more than just a damn fine drink.
By Nick Gollner