Discover the city's prime spots to sip a drink in the open air Bars & Clubs
Best for beer: Great Leap Brewing
Last year’s surprise hutong hit, Great Leap Brewing, burst out from nowhere with its fabulous micro-brewed beers, capturing our hearts and tastebuds, as well as the attention of other, less sexy media outlets, such as US news show Rock Center. After a chilly winter, Great Leap has opened its cosy courtyard once more, although there’s now a maximum capacity, so you’ll need a reservation to ensure you get in.
Best for wine:Cambulac
It’s certainly not the cheapest of the city’s many wine bars, but you don’t go to Cambulac to save money. No, you go there to wrap your refined gob around a mouthful of fine wine, of which this delightful little hutong hideaway, just off Nanluoguxiang, has a seemingly endless amount, with bottles ranging from an affordable 300RMB to a bank-busting 3,800RMB. Still, if you’re looking to impress, then a quiet bottle of the good stuff, enjoyed on the bar’s leafy terrace, should do the job.
Best for cocktails: Q Bar
Q Bar has been serving Beijing’s cocktail-sipping set for over half a decade now, and despite stiff competition from elsewhere in the city, it doesn’t look like it’ll be going anywhere soon. From a fabulous appletini to their delicious frozen strawberry margarita, the menu is a rainbow of tasty alcoholic treats. And the outdoor terrace, a stylish jumble of angular walls, alcoves and box-like rooms, surrounded by great views of Sanlitun’s streets, is a suitably unique place to imbibe the bar’s one-of-a-kind creations.
Best for cool kids: Migas
The tussle for best Nali Patio terrace has been going for years, but Migas delivered a crushing blow in April when it opened up its newly renovated, expanded area. Decked out in the kind of organic, white furniture you’d expect to see in a ’60s spy film, and surrounded by the glittering lights of Sanlitun, it radiates style – and pulls in the punters, especially on weekends, when queues of attractive twentysomethings stretch out of the front door. Sure, it’s pricey and staff can be flaky, but right now there’s no better place to be – and be seen.
Best for last chances: Drum and Bell Bar
Imagine looking up from your pint of Beijing Draught, the sun dancing through the trees, to see the towering edifice of the Bell Tower; below, a battalion of indestructible pensioners line up for a nightly line-dancing session. Quintessential Beijing moments like these have been pulling folks into the Drum and Bell for years, but a long-threatened regeneration plan has left a sword of Damocles hanging over the bar’s head. Best seize the moment and enjoy this venue while you still can.
Looking ahead: Temple Bar
It’s a bit of a cheat, this one, as it wasn’t open at the time of going to press. The rooftop area of ace rock venue Temple Bar is still under construction and there is every chance that it might open later this summer. Exactly what form it will take is unknown, but it’ll be the cherry atop our favourite musical cake. Er. You know what we mean.