Why go to a Japanese bar during a visit to Beijing? Because this one is, to the best of my knowledge, the veteran speakeasy in a city where the concept has taken root over the past few years. Plus, getting there is an adventure in itself that involves a trip through the deserted parking lot of Chaoyang Theater, up a pair of rickety staircases, and into a foyer with a nondescript door that could front a storeroom, apartment, or admin office for the theater.
Instead, it hides a cozy bar that has served, for nearly a decade now, as a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Beijing. Dark woods, dim lighting, and normally quiet conversation create a cocoon of tranquility. Grab one of ten seats at the bar and order a cocktail—people tend to enjoy the Moscow Mule in the house copper cup, although you have to get dibs on it before someone else does—or a spirit, with the whiskey selection, including Bourbon, particularly good. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll probably end up chatting with the other customers and having one or two more drinks.