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
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.
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.