Beijing's New Speakeasy Arch Bar is a Monumental Find

By Holly Baer, September 30, 2018

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There’s something about a bar that’s hard to find that makes us feel like we’ve been let in on a juicy secret. We feel like we are joining an exclusive club of trendy craft cocktail aficionados who “know where it’s at.” Arch Bar definitely builds on that allure. Hidden near Zhangzizhonglu station, Arch requires a few right turns and – OK, fine – maybe even shamefully asking a security guard if you’re in the right place. 

arch-bar-door.jpg
Photo via Andrew Braun

Upon finally finding Arch, its clean and crisp design reflects the breezy, fall night outside. We make our way inside through a buttonactivated door (which confused at least four patrons during our observations). With ‘60s inspired vintage furniture and a sleek, modern bar, Arch contradicts itself in many ways – it looks cozy and inviting, but there’s an aloof coolness to the patrons and the staff. We can't shake the nagging feeling that we were somehow intruding. 

After admiring the luxe interior decor, we decide to retreat back outside where our waiter brought us menus, hawthorn bar snacks and even a button to press when we needed him. It’s all a bit much but that’s part of the draw here. Our notions are confirmed by the list of drink specials, served on top of a gold clipboard, and the napkin holders, which – you guessed it – are also gold. It’s an aesthetically pleasing touch and if you’re looking to enhance your social media image, by all means – indulge. 

arch-bar-back-room.jpg
Photo via Andrew Braun

We decide to go with a Dust In The Wind and a Paper Plane (both RMB90). The first is a sweet concoction made with lychee, Bianco vermouth and lime juice, among other ingredients we certainly don’t keep in our personal liquor cabinets. It’s pleasantly fresh and light but regrettably small, as we’ve come to expect from fancy lounges. The Paper Plane is classic – bourbon, bitters, brown sugar and orange peel – and easy to sip on. 

If those don’t suit you, try any of the other signature cocktails (all around RMB90) or go straight for the hard stuff – they have more than four pages solely dedicated to whiskey from all corners of the world. 

arch-bartenders.jpg

Photo via Andrew Braun

All in all, this is the ideal spot to bring a special someone. The dark corners and sultry ambiance make it a place to unwind, confess a few sins and walk back into the night with your friend or lover, content in the close company you shared. Sure, you can crash with larger groups, but that almost feels like a waste of what Arch has cultivated. The casual intimacy of it all makes us want to come back again with someone to impress. Maybe after payday. 

Arch is a lounge bar to its very core – it’s classier than it needs to be, but it holds on to that aesthetic fiercely. It’s the future wrapped in the past – a comforting yet false nostalgia, distilled with contemporary tastes and amenities. It’s a bar to come to as you are. Well, maybe in slightly better shape – we wouldn’t be caught dead here in sweatpants. Not because they wouldn’t let us in, but just because it feels disrespectful to an establishment with gold ashtrays. 


See a listing for Arch Bar and read more Beijing Bar & Restaurant Reviews 

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