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Most cities around the world have an extremely active nightlife, and Beijing is no different in that respect. Let us introduce you to some of Beijing's best watering holes in case you want to have a drink and explore Beijing's regular nightlife.
We've split the sections into areas to make it easier for you depending on where you are staying, and put down a mix of breweries, cocktail bars, and places to get a taste of the local live music scene.
Recently combined with Drum and Bell Bar after it suffered under Beijing's most recent wave of gentrification, in true Beijing style, nobody really knows what this bar is now called, but that doesn't make it any less great.
It is located very close to Andingmen Station, and has an inside as well as an outside. The inside here is non-smoking, and looks like an extremely cozy living room. The outside and the deck are also decorated comfortably, with sofa's and pillows for lounging on the floor. The staff is extremely friendly, and they also have a pizza menu. Sundays from 2-6pm you can get free flow Tsingtao beers and mixed drinks for just 50 yuan.
Also nestled in the hutongs, el Nido is a nice little bar that has, again, the import beer, the mixed drinks, but also serves wine — a rare find around Beijing's budget bars. The wine is reasonably priced, at 25 yuan per glass, and the beer is reasonable too (price varies depending on what you pick). There are some Mexican-Korean fusion food items on the menu for those feeling peckish.
A recent-addition to the hutong bar scene, Nina is Italian-run and spritz cocktails are its bread and butter. Alongside a menu with an array of spritz drinks, there are plenty of snacks to keep you going for the night: mini pizzas, arancini, as well as meat and cheese platters.
One of Beijing's most popular craft-beer destinations, Great Leap Brewing has a list of over 30 beers all brewed in Beijing. Their original hutong location (#6) is also great if you've spent a day walking around the hutongs. Keep in mind that #6 doesn't serve any food.
Mao Mao Chong is an expat favourite, and has ranked highly on expat magazine awards — and it is not hard to see why. Not only is this bar's name adorable (Mao Mao Chong translates as 'The Hairy Caterpillar'), but the bar serves great cocktails, crafted with precision, in an intimate setting right in Beijing's hutongs.
A lot of the cocktails in Mao Mao Chong are Chinese renditions of the classics, with chilli's and Sichuan peppercorns as a key ingredient. For example, there is the Bloody Mao, which is a spicier version of the Bloody Mary.
On top of this, it is one of the only bars in the area that is non-smoking, making for a pleasant change around Beijing, and potentially even a dinner destination for families' because the pizza's are also amazing. If you can, come here on a Wednesday when a special selection of drinks are only 35 yuan. Otherwise, prices for cocktails range between 40 and 70 yuan.
Hutong classic, but up a notch from the bars mentioned in the budget section, Mai Bar is a cosy courtyard style bar, easily spottable in the dark by the red lanterns. The cocktails are delicious, and the menu is interesting — many classics, but also a lot of Beijing-named and themed cocktails that you just wouldn't get anywhere else.
The crowd here is generally young and a little bit alternative — but a great mix of Chinese and foreign customers, as is the staff. This bar is also walking distance from popular tourist destination, Nanluoguxiang.
Close to: the CCTV Headquarters Building, the Beijing Exhibition Center, and the Central Business District.
Once a street-side stall, Mojito Man has done extremely well for himself and now runs his Mojito 'stall' from a store on Sanlitun's busy bar strip. The bar is inside a residental area marked as 'Sanlitun Nursing Home', and is attached to a clothing store.
The barman makes amazing Mojitos (30 yuan), Long Island Iced Tea (30 yuan), and an exciting new drink: tequila shots with a Corona bottle upside down inside them (35 yuan). There are also a few bottled beers for under 20 yuan. This is a local hotspot and frequented by expats and tables fill up quickly, but it is also the perfect way to meet some real Beijingers. Perfect for some drinks before heading out to the clubs.
One of Beijing's most popular craft-beer destinations, Great Leap Brewing has a list of over 30 beers all brewed in Beijing. The most popular location is the one near Dongzhimen, also called their #12 location which has a great food menu including burgers, salads, and more.
A wine bar located in the popular party district Sanlitun with a huge range of imports at all different price ranges including some local Chinese wines. Ask the managers if you're not sure which wine to select, as they're highly knowledgeable on the subject, obviously.
Sportsbar/pub the Local has a lot to offer for those who want to watch sports games, which due to time difference, are usually on at very bizarre times in Beijing. It is one of the places with the best range of draught beers, and one of the few that offers cider. Their Western Food selection is also good, and there are a few tables outside which is nice on good days. If you do go for the sports, call up ahead to see if they are showing your game. Happy hour is daily between 4pm and 8pm.
Teahouse during the day, Long Jing uses traditional Chinese teas to create delicious cocktails. For sunny days there is a beautiful patio out the front, and there's a DJ at night during weekends. This bar is also a strong supporter of the LGBT community, and hosts a fun and welcoming gay night every Thursday.
A Japanese-style whisky and cocktail bar, Mokihi has a huge menu with everything you can think of. The alcohol is of good quality, which means it is real, unlike many Beijing bars, and the service is very good. They also serve a variety of snacks, and the bar is open a lot later than most other venues.
The cocktails can be quite expensive, but prices generally stay between 60 to 80 yuan for cocktails. The bartenders can also make your own creation for you if you ask and tell them your preferences.
Another one of Beijing's most popular craft beer purveyors has just opened a three-story tall location in the center of the city. Get here to try one of their 20 beers (both on tap varieties as well as some bottled ones) or try one of their burgers, salads, or the wings that they are so proud of.
Atmosphere is the highest bar in Beijing, located on the 80th floor of the Shangri-la-owned China World Summit Wing Hotel in Beijing's Central Business District. The cocktails are great, and the view is even better. Just make sure that you're going on a blue-sky day, or else the view will be wasted. Perfect if you're looking to impress somebody.
Often considered to be on the forefront of Beijing's cocktail scene, this cozy bar does indeed serve up some good cocktails and is located in the popular party district of Sanlitun.
Get here early or make a reservation, as seats get snapped up quickly, particularly during special occasions and the weekends but also during the week.
Conveniently located in the lobby of Beijing's Kerry Hotel, Centro is known for its spacious seating areas, nightly live jazz performances, and large gin and tonics. This is your spot of choice if you find yourself in Beijing for business travel and are in meetings in the Central Business District or if you find yourself wanting to go out at an odd time, as Centro is open 24 hours a day.
Want to pretend you are 18 years old again? Vics is one of Beijing's biggest clubs, with DJs playing a mix of R&B, soul, reggae, and hip hop all night long. You'll find a mix of foreign and Chinese patrons, and every Wednesday is ladies night with free drinks for ladies.
Sometimes famous foreign DJs pass through the doors too, so you never know if you could be reliving (or continuing) your party years in this pumping, lit-up club.
Yin is the place to go for a treat if you are only here for a short time, but want to enjoy your evenings. It is located on top of The Emperor Hotel, and has a great view from its rooftop. At night, you can see all the big tourist sights, from Tian'anmen Square to Mao's Mausoleum, lit up.
This bar is the priciest out of all listed, with cocktails at least 60 yuan, and some above 100 yuan. However, the atmosphere is unbeatable, and everyone deserves a treat on holiday.
Just on the other side of Houhai Lake from Dongcheng District, 4corners has been around for years as a bastion of Vietnamese food and solid cocktails. This is also one of the best places to find live music, providing a platform for many Beijing-born bands to take the stage. It's perfect to stop off for a break if your legs are tired from exploring, or if you're in need of a steaming bowl of pho noodles.
Looking for someone that specializes in beer? NBeer Pub in Xicheng is your go-to. They have 37 taps ready to pour you the beer of your choice (most of which are brewed locally), and space for 900 bottles if you didn't find one that suits your taste buds on tap. Perfect for any beer lover wanting to explore Beijing and China's buzzing craft beer industry.
If you go on any tour with us, like the ones recommended below, we usually leave the evening free for you to explore Beijing's nightlife, or we can take you out to the bars with a guide to help you navigate. Just let us know what you prefer!
We can custom build your Beijing tour, and make sure to include any bars or restaurants you'd like to visit. To find out more, simply contact us.