With Beijingers seemingly thirstier than ever for top-level mixology, enterprising Edinburgh gin distillers Pickering's have set up shop in Sanlitun mecca Nali Patio, in the process claiming the title of Beijing's first dedicated gin bar.
Teaming up with local craft brewers Panda Brew, the opening of Pickering's marks the first phase in an ambitious plan to eventually open 19 branches across China. For those familiar with Nali Patio, it's a branding push that's not unlike one adopted by Nali Patio rooftop hub Terrazza Martini, giving Pickering's that slightly commercial feel that's frequently found in any venue with dreams of world domination. In full celebration of Scottish provenance, this second-floor sanctum offers an extensive fresh seafood list with imported salmon, lobster and more, luring in a reliable lunch and dinnertime crowd. Gin, however, is the real name of the game here.
Hibiscus gin and tonic.
The custom cocktail menu features a list of seven gin cocktails named after different emotions and priced at 88RMB. Dedicated spirit bars can often be single-minded in their focus, but the cocktails here are unexpectedly offbeat. Delight – a Thai gin tea made with condensed milk – is almost a s'more in liquid form with a whimsical roast marshmallow topping. Passion – a strawberry and hibiscus gin cocktail – is blitzed in a CO2 centrifuge in what's a riff on an adult-only soda float. And the immensely drinkable Caring – a sparkling gin and juniper mix – makes for an appealing summertime alternative to rosé and prosecco – which is probably why it's also available by the bottle (399RMB). For gin and tonic aficionados, Pickering's also offers both classic (68RMB) and botanical-infused gins prepared in-house (88RMB).
For full-fledged gin purists, Pickering's currently doesn't offer much opportunity for off-the-cuff riffs to suit individual boozy preferences or those after something a little more bespoke. However, for those after artisanal, curated gin cocktails Pickering's makes for a solid option for gin aficionados and cocktail lovers alike to get pickled at.
By Leanne Wong