Infusion Room

  • Bars
  • Cocktail Bars
Critics' pick
Gongti Bei Lu

Beijing’s bar scene has come a long way in the past few years. Case in point: Infusion Room. The epoch of style and creativity in Sanlitun, the swanky joint is hidden behind a passcode-activated door, adorned with nothing but a small porthole on the second floor of d Lounge.

If you’ve had just about all you can take of exclusive watering holes that opt for dress codes, membership fees and secret passcodes to keep out the hoi polloi and purport a reputation they have done nothing to earn, you’re not alone. At some point, we hoped folks would just give up on the speakeasy aesthetic (and all the gimmicks it entails) and realise that a quality bar relies on what it offers, rather than what it omits.

On the surface, Infusion Room seems to fit the bill for just that sort of black-waistcoated baloney. We’d even been warned that without the secret code, the doors will remain locked. Yet what we find is a different story. Yes, there’s a keypad next to the stainless steel door, but a knock and a wave to the barman is all that entry requires.

Inside, a polished concrete loft sports a sleek bar, a smattering of tables and a small semi-private booth. A towering pyramid of sparkling top-shelf hooch rises like an altar to the gods of single malt, triple-distilled and small-batch.

The menu is short but shows off an expertly curated selection of spirits, from the commonplace to collectable, but the real name of the game are the house signature cocktails. Head bartenders Paul Hsu and Kevin Song have crafted a selection of 12 cocktails that range from the fantastic Aged Manhattan (110RMB), featuring sous-vide oolong-infused bourbon and served in an ice-cold pewter flask in a cedar box piped full of smoke, to the inspired Kombu Soup (110RMB), with Japanese seaweed, Talisker 10-year-old, gin, olive oil, Cocchi Americano and salt water.

The drinks are excellent, bordering on extraordinary; the presentation is playful while contributing another level of sensory complexity. The service reflects a knowledge of the menu, and recommendations are volunteered, even from floor staff.

The price point might seem daunting at first, but your red-back goes far, and when compared to similar spots in the area, the 20 percent mark-up is a small price to pay for what amounts to the best cocktail experience we’ve encountered this year.

Venue name: Infusion Room
English address: 2/F d Lounge Courtyard 4 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang district
Chinese address: 朝阳区工体北路4号机电院内滚石西门对面 (D Lounge二层)
  • 4 out of 5 stars

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