Over the years, Parisian-styled bar Modernista has attracted a loyal crowd with a programme of live music and creative events – not to mention a vast selection of absinthe to keep things interesting.
What Modernista lacked, however, was the space to fully realise its events’ potential. We love the regular swing nights, but it was often so packed you couldn’t swing a cat in there, let alone your dance partner. Which is why the Gulou fave shut up shop for four months in early 2015, took over the lot next door and has come back bigger than ever.
The redesigned Modernista is divided into two halves. From the beginning of the month, the original space, largely unaltered with its trademark black-and-white tiles and shabby-chic furnishing, will be a café by day serving coffee (from 25RMB) and a selection of sweet and savoury bites. By night expect a relaxed European-fusion restaurant, with multi-course menus starting at 150RMB per person.
The new space – a jazzy cocktail bar with more room for live bands and events – looks intentionally aged by the rustic décor, with a wrap-around balcony overlooking a small stage and dancefloor. With a little help from one of Rosewood Beijing hotel’s bartenders, the team has beefed-up the cocktail menu with a number of signature seasonal cocktails (40-75RMB).
Our favourite, the Frida, is a coffee, cinnamon and tequila combo. It could be a little stiffer, but the kick from the coffee is enough to keep your legs moving all night. For a taste of summer, the exquisite cucumber and Chartreuse cocktail is a refreshing choice that’ll keep you cool on the dancefloor. For those who prefer a trip with the green fairy, there’s now an absinthe-only bar upstairs, complete with a (slightly kitsch) absinthe fountain housing Modernista’s forty kinds of absinthe (from 60RMB a glass).
Any daytime dwellers can have their drink with a view on a small terrace overlooking the hutong. Unfortunately, there’s an 8pm curfew to keep the neighbours happy.