I heard a baijiu bar opened in Sanlitun Soho, close to my apartment, so I moseyed over last night and found it in the same space that housed, well, another baijiu bar, Oriental Lounge, for several years before it closed about six months ago.
I’m not sure why I’ve missed this place twice. The first time I went was last year after I wrote about the opening of baijiu bar Capital Spirits and a friend curtly said a place with such booze existed in my neighborhood. Thanks Mariano! This time, I got the tip from someone in… Canada. There you have it, someone on the other side of the planet is much more up-to-date on my local scene.
The new digs are nice if conservative: expect Chinese sliding windows (hanging from the ceiling), a long bar with seating for a half-dozen, comfy low chairs for about twenty, and subdued colors–lots of grays and browns.
The menus are the old Oriental Lounge ones and list several dozen baijius, including the type of aroma, the alcohol level, and other details. There are 21 cocktails listed, although the accompanying photos could use some work. I enjoyed the Long Island variation, which includes three baijius and works well with lemon and the decidedly non-Chinese mixer Coke. I also remember having some good plum infusions here a year back. Not sure if those are still around but will check next time.
I only had time to stop for an hour or so but the design, the friendly barman, the reasonably diverse lineup of baijius, the decent prices (pours start at rmb30, with or without ice, while cocktails begin at rmb40) and a location in the heart of Sanlitun make it attractive. There are also lots of snacks–the kitchen is upstairs–from rmb12 though, again, the photos could use a redo.
Given the baijiu focus, this place might do well to add two or three flights and to translate some of its material into English, but it is off to a good start and hopefully will mature with age.
You can find En Vein in Sanlitun Soho in the building on the northwest corner. It’s on the first floor. Go around to the back and enter from outside.