• Nightlife
  • Nightlife

128 Xiang’er Hutong

If, like us, you’ve spent countless months wandering the streets of Jiaodaokou, pining for an art deco- cum-Victorian novelty bar, your day has finally come. Recently opened bar Steampunk is serving up cheap drinks with a theme – steampunk.

The steampunk aesthetic is inspired by the steam-powered machines of the industrial revolution. Picture the set designs in – and we’re losing serious cool points now – Will Smith’s god-awful Wild Wild West.

Between a popular Beijing home-style restaurant currently in the running for the title of world’s loudest customers, and the hip-hop themed hotpot at Hi-la, Steampunk has managed to carve out a niche for itself that until now has been tragically underserved on sleepy Xiang’er Hutong – or anywhere else in the city, for that matter.

A gridiron façade of lead-paned windows and an illuminated marquee announce the arrival of something a bit different. If it weren’t for the board above the door, tempting passers-by with modestly priced import beers, Steampunk could easily be mistaken for an off-brand boutique or local gallery. The long-haired, bespectacled fellow who turns out to be the owner, gently sipping tea on the only bench, doesn’t exactly scream, ‘We are a bar, come in please!’ either.

Arrangements of old bicycle chains, spokes and electric motors hang from the ceiling and hover on the walls. We aren’t totally sure what we’re supposed to think, but we like it. Things get even better after a few Hoegaardens (15RMB) and, for something a bit stronger, Delirium Tremens (25RMB).

The beers are ice-cold and shots of premium liquor are priced to sell; Grey Goose, Glenfiddich and Suntory go for a crazy-cheap 25RMB. The original cocktails suffer from over-pours of all manner of brightly coloured bottles of saccharine swill. The creative energy has clearly been spent elsewhere, namely on hanging bits of bike on the walls. In the end we fall for this tiny, two-table joint. Steampunk’s devotion to offbeat art and cheap drinks is commendable. 

Simple but undeniably charming.

Venue name: Steampunk
Opening hours: 6pm-2am daily
English address: 128 Xiang’er Hutong, off Jiadaokou Nan Dajie, Dongcheng district
Chinese address: 东城区交道口南大街香饵胡同155号
  • 4 out of 5 stars