In the Year of Our Lord 2017, Beijing authorities wrought destruction of Biblical proportions upon our favorite bars and cafes. Yet even in this fraught, grieving season, Beijingers have found ways to soldier on. The noble party people of Beijing shall continue to drink on rooftops and terraces this summer, as per tradition, the only question is where. Noelle Mateer goes on a journey to find the answer, while also asking: What are the best and worst terraces in Beijing? Is the CBD the new hutongs? And what’s the Champagniest place to drink Champagne?
Put on your Sanlitun finest to go sit on this Sanlitun roof that overlooks the rest of Sanlitun. If you’re feeling especially Sanlitun – and of course you are, you’re at The Roof – order a bottle of champers or whisky. If you’re not, there are cocktails and beers too. Final tip: Dress nice. This is a Shanghai kind of place in a Beijing kind of city.
What to Drink: Bottle service, obviously.
Good For: Posting photos of your glamorous life on Instagram; #Views.
This longtime Thai restaurant has recently upped its cocktail game, and we couldn’t be happier. Sure, maybe you’ve only dropped by for lunch, or ordered spring rolls online, but – and this is a hot tip right here – Pak Pak has a wonderful terrace, perfect for grabbing drinks or dinner after work. This is just one of many updates to the now-bustling Guomao. The CBD is the new hutongs (...yay?)!
What to Drink: The Mandarin Fizz (RMB50), featuring gin, brandy, lemongrass and Jing-A Mandarin Wheat beer.
Good For: Getting drunk at dinner.
The one, the only, the original – Great Leap Brewing shall not be bricked (we hope). The place that singlehandedly kicked off Beijing’s craft beer obsession is still, in this age of hutong destruction, well, a damn good bar. And just when you think you’ve tried ’em all, they crank out a sick collab beer or throw a
seasonal brew on the menu.
What to Drink: Honey Ma White, a lighter take on Great Leap’s classic Honey Ma Gold for summer (RMB55).
Good For: ‘Stopping by for a pint’ and leaving nine hours later.
If one were to rank boozy Beijing terraces according to classiness, Kokomo would be at the bottom and O’Bar the top. Read: It is classy AF. But this year, the bar at NUO Hotel is shaking things up, both figuratively and literally, with the addition of new bar manager Attila Balint. If you can tear yourself away from O’Bar’s Champagne selection, then give his cocktails a try.
What to Drink: Seasonal cocktails (RMB varies); Deutz Champagne on ice.
Good For: Feeling significantly more glamorous than you actually are.
We didn’t get the buzz over North Capital at first. It is essentially a backpacker bar like the kind you’d find at a hostel in Thailand. But then we realized, duh, that’s the appeal, and also there’s actually a decent selection of craft beers and ciders. Plus, the fact that all our other hutong bars seem to be getting bricked up these days means it just might be the summer of North Capital.
What to Drink: Diplomatico on the rocks (only RMB15, you're welcome).
Good For: Meeting English teachers... who are very single.
If you were to ask us, right now, where the best place in Beijing to propose to a loved one is, we’d say TiensTiens. (Then we’d be like… why are you getting engaged here? Propose somewhere with clean air.) The cafe’s new roof is replete with string lights and multiple terrace levels like a goddamn fairytale castle. Also: Croissants.
What to Drink: Rosé. Or coffee, we suppose.
Good For: Having the ‘what are we?’ conversation.
Don’t be confused by the name: ‘Craft Container’ is not a line of high-end tupperware boxes for DIY-scrapbooking fiends; it is an outdoor bar run by Xian at East Hotel, featuring beers of the craft variety. Pick from Jing-A, Slow Boat and N Beer brews – the gang’s all here. Then plop down in one of Xian’s sunken booth things. We really recommend the sunken booth things.
What to Drink: Whatever you want, it’s up to you! (Flying Fist IPA, RMB55.)
Good For: When your friends can’t decide if they want craft beer or cocktails.
I mean, how would you pluralize ‘Migas’? If it were Mig-us it’d be Mig-i – duh! – but Latin declension charts contain no stipulations for -as endings. Wow, sorry, anyway, point is: Y’all already know Migas has one of the city’s dopest rooftops, and now there’s a second one, freshly opened in the CBD, that’s set to be even doper.
What to Drink: Aperol Spritz (two for RMB70 on Sunday nights at The Bar at Migas only).
Good For: Catching the sunset on a clean-air day.
“Wait – the place that does the buy-one-get-one burgers?” you ask. “Shut up,” we reply. “Shut up and drink.” Blue Frog somehow nabbed the sickest, most massive-est terrace in the whole China World Mall, and the view is so beautiful you might actually cry (after six or seven buy-one-get-one pina coladas you might). Go during Happy (four) Hour(s). Or burger Mondays. There is no reason to pay full price for
What to Drink: Anything during Happy Hour, buy-one-get-one (4-8pm).
Good For: Bitching about work over beers with your Guomao coworkers.
On A Boat
Live in Gulou and bummed about all your favorite Fangjia Hutong joints shutting? Well you know something they can’t wall up: lakes! Try to brick this, local authorities! Wield your sense of rebellion and newfound power by paying too much for a boat rental on either Houhai or Beihai (Beihai smells less like sh*t, but has weird hours).
What to Drink: RMB60 bottles of ‘champagne’ from nearby outlets of Russian Supermarket Magazine Yuri, smuggled in via your backpack.
Good For: Groups of friends with the ability to organize themselves and arrive at a certain place at the same time.