Finding a name for the bar in EAST, Beijing
– the new hotel by the people behind The Opposite House
– must have been easy. It’s located near 798
on Jiuxianqiao Lu, and with ‘Jiuxian’ meaning ‘alcohol god’, perhaps the management were hoping for the blessing of this Chinese Bacchus by choosing the name Xian. Certainly they’ve placed the upmost importance on the alcoholic offerings: as well as classic cocktails (the usual suspects from Cosmos to Sidecars, all 60RMB) and ten types of martinis (from 60RMB), there are creative signature drinks such as ‘Thymless Passion’, a gin, ginger and lime blend with fresh thyme (80RMB). The show-stealer though is the whiskey selection, with more than 150 by-the-glass options and if you buy a bottle and don’t finish it, they’ll keep it behind the bar for you for next time.
Those coming here expecting the buzz of Punk – The Opposite House’s wildly popular basement bar that shut this summer – will be disappointed. Rather, Xian is Punk
’s suave older brother, who knows how to show you a good time without getting you wasted. This is perhaps wise considering the clientele is more likely to be those living in the neighbouring Lido area than – as was often the case with Punk – straddlers drifting in from Sanlitun Bar Street.
Set over three floors, there’s a live jazz band Tuesday to Friday nights in one part of the bar, a basement with pool tables, foosball and retro arcade games, and, elsewhere, plenty of art-filled alcoves and private corners with leather armchairs. The labyrinthine structure means it’s never going to draw big dance crowds or be the best place to meet lots of new people. But, it is a great place to take and impress people you’ve already met, whether it’s for a date, a post-work meeting (making the most of that 6-8pm two-for-one happy hour), or a sophisticated night out with friends.