With founders including a transplant from Janes & Hooch, Maltail’s concept is clearly inspired by the nearby establishment. But as a former J&H bartender, manager Max Shi has placed the focus more squarely on the booze. He describes the straightforward concept as providing a wide selection for those who understand whiskey and cocktails. That selection—delivered with clockwork precision by the bow-tied staff—varies from classic cocktails such as Manhattans and Sazeracs to oddly named drinks like the Penicillin and generally ranges from RMB40 to RMB70.
Fear not the curiously named specialty drinks. The Strange Smell, for example, blends gin, raspberry and aquavit superbly and gives off a scent no stranger than cucumber. The alcohol, arranged on the vast orange-lit shelves that take up the entire wall behind the bar, also serves as the focal point of the décor. This is a look that you’ve no doubt seen before at countless cocktail bars around the world. The unoriginal design is perhaps the only knock against the bar, although it still exudes a type of classiness reflected in the Frank Sinatra soundtrack. By Jake Spring
Our rating: 4/5 stars
Where: Sanlitun Back Street, across from the west entrance of 3.3 Mall
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