“Ah, Equis,” you say, as you reach this page of your favorite English-language Beijing-based lifestyle magazine. “I know what Equis means. That’s Latin for horse.”
Alas, Equis’ opening slogan last month may have been ‘Gates Unlocked’ – but no, you (and possibly they) are thinking of ‘equus.’ Equis, meanwhile, is Latin for ‘you, plural,’ or ‘yous.’ We don't have ‘you, plural’ in English. The closest approximation would likely be this Kanye West lyric: “There’s a thousand yous, there’s only one of me.” Mille equis, solo mei.
Beijing’s Equis is equally prepared for the arrival of Kanye West and thousands upon thousands of yous. The space is celeb-ready and massive, featuring both expansive terraces and hidden VIP rooms. (Equis offers four, four, levels of VIP membership.) Equis is the latest, boldest project by the Four Seasons Beijing, and is divided into five sections: The Library, The Cellar, The Lounge, The Courtyard and The Imperial Room, which is for VIP members only. Yes, the rooms’ names are proper nouns.
Each of these rooms is large and well-stocked enough to be its own bar, and yet they all interconnect, weaving together a large and shiny playground for the wealthy and thirsty. The Library functions as a (gender-inclusive) Gentlemen’s Club, with whisky and cigars. The Lounge features live music and DJs. The Cellar is our favorite: a lounge so blindingly red that we’re tempted to say it’s the most Chinese – but then there’s its bar dedicated to French oysters. This is the kind of fusion we can get behind.
Capital-c Champagne is everywhere here. And yet, there’s also a talented bar staff serving an extensive drinks menu. Drink prices aren’t as expensive as you might think for a bar this lavish – we (plural) knock back several for under RMB250, and during happy hour (which runs until 9pm), the house cocktails are only RMB60.
Alongside all this booze, try the bar’s tapas-style bites, with an emphasis on seafood. An elegant crab puree and fried shrimp are the perfect antidotes for Champagne-wearied stomachs. And ultimately, the finely tuned food-and-drink menus prove one thing: That Equis isn’t just a lounge for the wealthy – it’s a hangout with substance.
After all, if Equis were indeed a horse, then it would be no mere workhorse. It would be a stallion, a white stallion, or whatever horse breed is fanciest – we don’t really know. Who knows horse breeds anymore? The people at the Four Seasons, probably.