Beijing’s bar scene has been hit hard recently, with the closure of Ichikura, The Den and several other stalwarts. But as ever with the city, development continues unabated. And with that in mind, I have the honour of presenting to you, what I think has the potential to be the bar known for having the best cocktails in Beijing.
I was privileged to be invited to an exclusive tasting by owner Frankie Zou. Frankie has previously worked for Maison Boulud, TRB and Domus, so rest assured, this is no upstart. Botany is the name of a company Frankie set up in 2009 in order to create much of the product that he wanted and needed for his cocktail making. Now, it has been transformed into his very own bar.
Located in the Yongli Guoji apartments (NOT the shopping center portion!), Botany is very reminiscent of a speakeasy. You will not find this place unless Frankie wants you to! Pray that he does though, because it is incredible.
A Man Who Knows His Craft, Frankie Zou in Cocktail-Making Action
Homemade Infused Liquors, Bitters & Aperitifs
The bar itself is in a converted apartment and has some amazing views over the Sanlitun skyline, especially on a clear night like the one we visited on!
With bar seating for around 5 people, room for a couple more on the sofa and a private room that can seat around 8, this is not a big space. That is a good thing in my opinion, as it maintains the atmosphere and the quality.
The decor of the space is lavish and designed to exude opulence, so I can see it giving some the impression that it’s a bit stiff or hotel-y. But don’t be put off by the posh furniture and abundance of gold and just remember, the creativity and originality of this bar is found in the cocktails.
LDS Snapshots of Botany Cocktail Bar:
Stepping inside, Botany Cocktail Bar Overlooks the Sanlitun Skyline
Private, Plush Lounge Bathed in Gold
So onto the cocktails. The money shot.
Subtle, layered, delicious. Everything we tried. I mean everything. Prices per cocktail are all currently set at RMB 85 per cocktail, which is New York pricing, but worth it.
There has been some serious thought put into these cocktails and it shows. The Tokyo Bay stands out as an unexpected favorite and the Black Truffle Martini is a winner. Last, but certainly not least, the cocktail now known as “Sangfroid” was so complex and interesting, we just had to give it a name worthy of its taste.
Regardless of whether you have a preference for a particular liquor, you can be adventurous here as Frankie has the ability to bring out the best qualities and flavors of each one. And if you choose to disregard the entire cocktail menu and just tell Frankie what mood you’re in, he’ll happily whip you up something and knock your socks off.
LDS Snapshots of Botany’s Cocktails:
Tokyo Bay (RMB 85) – Absolut, Japanese Rice & Green Tea, Nori, Tincture, Passion Fruit, Dried Shiso & Chili Shreds
The Night is Young (RMB 85) with Absolut Buddha’s Hand Vodka, Rhubarb Bitters, Cranberry Juice, Pickled Pink Ginger, Luxardo Cherry
Buddha’s Hand Infused Vodka
Friday Night (RMB 85) – Martell Cognac, Bourbon Whisky, Home Brewed Ginger Wine, German Horseradish, Green Walnut Bitters, Crispy Green Apple Chips
Smoked Salmon Bar Bites
Black Truffle Martini (RMB 85) – Black Truffle with Dark Rum, Homemade Roma Bitters, Pineapple, Spice Mix
Amortentia (RMB 85) – Martell Cognac, Chamomile Vermouth, Tropical Fresh Fruit Juice, Smoked Rosemary Foam, Toasted Black Sesame Seeds
Pate Bar Bites
Marina Bay (RMB 85) – Gordon’s Gin, Red Peppercorn, Cardamon, Blood Orange, Vanilla Lotus Chip
Close-Up of the Lotus Root Chip
Alaska King Crab Salad with Lobster Bisque, Avocado, Black Caviar
Botany Manhattan (RMB 85) – Wild Turkey, Figs, Shiso Leaf, Vanilla, Dolin Rouge, Roma Bitter, Regan’s Bitters, Luxardo Cherry
Sangfroid (RMB 85) – Bombay Sapphire Gin, Sichuan Pepper, Meyer Lime Bitters, Lemongrass, Blueberry, Soda Water, Pickled Pink Beetroot
Frankie has really put his heart and soul into this project and it shows. Drinks of this quality are few and far between in Beijing.
Given it’s outstanding cocktail selection and convenient proximity to Sanlitun, I will no doubt be back to Botany frequently and with friends in tow so you can expect to continue to see some updates in the cocktail names and menu seeing as it’s not officially open yet and by appointment only!
Feel free to contact me directly for a hook-up (WeChat ID: LumDimSum) and Frankie is also open to friends of LDS contacting him directly – WeChat ID: frankie-zou
A Thoughtful and Unexpected Departing Gift – Macaroons!
Botany Contact Details:
Open by Appointment Only
If you have questions, feel free to email me directly – firstname.lastname@example.org