Nestled just off Jiaodaokou Nandajie is the unassuming facade of Pinó, the newest addition to the Beijing bar scene and sister to hutong favorite, Nina. Those who wept at the disappearance of the foreign import shop in the same location will now rejoice at its wine-heavy replacement.
Despite appearances, Pinó stretches back over three rooms, each with a distinct atmosphere. The first space holds a wine bar lined with shelves of bottles sourced from seemingly every corner of the world. It almost looks like a cozy Italian restaurant, though it is so crowded when we visit on opening night that it hardly feels as sleepy.
The next room has a much more casual feel, definitely what we would expect from a bar serving up Jing-A beers on tap, loaded hotdogs and tapas. The third room is a little bare, but is full of tables set for a more intimate atmosphere. At least, this is what it seems like it will feel like once there is a steadier flow of punters on a regular night.
With an enthusiastic recommendation, we start with one of the two cocktails from the front bar. The Spino (RM48) is tangy and refreshing, perfect for shaking off the summer heat. It’s definitely one for the Aperol Spritz lovers of Beijing (who, us?).
Eager to see what else Pinó has in store for us we oh-so-swiftly move on to their selection of house wines. At RMB38 per glass, we chortle and figure we can’t go wrong. As brainlessly ready to be pleased as we are, our expectations are happily surpassed with the full red (a blend from Italy) and the crisp white (a Chardonnay from France). The house selection is set to change month to month, giving us a chance to explore more by the glass.
Beyond this, the menu is intimidatingly extensive, with bottles starting at RMB148, and climbing to upwards of RMB1600. The short descriptions accompanying each bottle listed makes an evening here more approachable for both long-time and just-on-Fridays wine enthusiasts.
Pinó is definitely still finding its feet, but it looks set to follow in Nina’s footsteps and become a staple of the hutong bar scene. Having sneakily overheard whisperings of a summer brunch menu and garden, we’re excited to watch this space unfold.
[Images via Andrew Braun]