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Readers’ Choice Awards 2017: Nightlife Favorites

We asked you for your favorite Beijing activities. Here's who won!

Bar of the Year 

 

Winner: Red Dog

This newcomer has already earned a huge following among expats and locals. We’re always happy when we find our way to their little corner of Sanlitun SOHO, where service and cocktails are matched by magnificent design. Linger outside on their astroturf “beach” or head inside for an eye-popping interior that's playful and fabulously French.

Honorable Mention: La Social

Editor’s Pick: Bar 4 Nine. This (now closed) hidden gem polarized with its deliciously local fermented mung bean cocktail and the city’s best baijiu cocktail (if you believe in such things). Sadly, like many of our Beijing favorites, this too fell to the city's cleanup efforts. 

 

Outstanding Live Music

Blue Note Beijing

The Beijing outpost of New York’s renowned jazz institution has already proven itself worthy of the name, with the splendor of the talent they bring to the capital. The space is massive, featuring seating for 300 and a fully equipped kitchen and bar. It’s a welcome infusion of new blood in the capital’s once-bustling Legation Quarter and one of the city’s classiest venues for local hepcats.

Honorable Mention: Dusk Dawn Club

Editor’s Pick: Centro. Dress to impress as you sip Champagne and creative cocktails in one of the capital’s oldest, hippest jazz venues.

 

Outstanding Craft Beer

Jing-A Taproom

What began as a trickle of craft beer is now a delicious torrent with everyone and their ayis getting into the game. But at five years strong, the enduring star of 1949 The Hidden City is once again your favorite. Find Jing-A’s creative brews across town and, come November, look for their 8x8 Brewing Project to deliver exciting cross-cultural collaborations.

Honorable Mention: Slow Boat Taproom

Editor’s Pick: Paulaner Bräuhaus. The beer garden, one of the perks of the Kempinski Hotels, serves up authentic Bavarian beer in the closest thing you'll get to a Munich bräuhaus this side of the River Elbe.

 

Beijing-Based DJ of the Year

DJ Nigls

This charming Portuguese expat might have cut his teeth in the clubs of Macau, but his dark and groovy audio excursions are now firmly part of the Beijing scene. When he’s not spinning in Yugong Yishan, Migas, Lantern, and wherever else Beijing is dancing, he’s criss-crossing China to bring his blend of house, techno, and progressive vibes to the eager fans across the land.

Honorable Mention: WengWeng

Editor’s Pick: Juliana Lima. We love the style this Brazil native brings to the deck, with a taste for tech house that brings fans out to dance.

 

Outstanding Cocktails

Atmosphere

Ascend to the capital’s most elevated bar to enjoy the grandest view of the sparkling scene and the city’s favorite tipples. Whether you’re of a taste for classic Old Fashioneds or Beijing-inspired concoctions like the Great Green Wall or bedazzling Metropolitan Sorbet, you’re sure to be impressed. Put yourself in Mochammad Fadli’s capable hands and enjoy.

Honorable Mention: Mei
Editor’s Pick: Róng. All your favorites at reasonable prices, with a beautiful rooftop garden and considerate service to match.

 

Bartender of the Year

Winner: Mochammad Fadli

Bahrain’s Chivas Master Bartender made his Beijing debut and his dapper charms have already won over cocktail lovers across the city. The Jakarta native and 15-year veteran of the bartending scene is now a star in the capital’s firmament, perched on China World Summit Wing’s 80th floor, in their equally classy Atmosphere.

Honorable Mention: Chris Peart (Mei)

Editor’s Pick: Jack Ren (Red Dog). The man behind Red Dog hosts a team of mixology talents, but we’re always delighted by his careful attention. Add his winning French fashion sense (with a new design for all the bartenders, every season) and it’s a feast for all the senses.

 

Nightlife Newcomer of the Year

Mojo

With a soundtrack of well tailored jazz, chill wave, electro pop, and deep house, the mood starts mellow and gets more pumping in Gongti’s new “it” gastropub. The interior is a Fitzgerald's dream, all decorated in gold, a wise sommelier, and massive Tomahawk steak to match. With the fall of the hutongs, and the rise of a classier Beijing, this is the place to be.

Honorable Mention: Red Dog
Editor’s Pick: Slow Boat Sanlitun Brewpub. Finally, one of the capital’s foremost breweries gives us room to breathe. With three spacious floors, we can order round after round of their creative brews in comfort.

 

Outstanding Promoter

Split Works

The big prize once again goes to the industrious fellows behind JUE | Music + Art, Wooozy Offline, and countless rocking nights. They’ve brought us some of the capital’s most enchanting and important sounds, with Cloud Nothings, Owen Pallett, Gaika, and Vieux Farka Touré just some of their recent gets. We can’t wait to see who they bring us next.

Honorable Mention: NB Noise

Editor’s Pick: Footprint. The EDM brand’s been importing the world’s best DJs for years running, without missing a beat.

 

Outstanding Sports Bar

Paddy O'Shea's

Everyone knows that this Irish pub is always the best place to get drunk and watch the game. Paddy’s stays open all hours for your sporting desires, drawing insatiable crowds with great drink deals (get there for happy hour!), plenty of parties, and a rocking pub quiz. What’s better than a proper pint of Guinness while you watch the footie? The fine food of the upstairs Ganges, delivered to your table.

Honorable Mention: Xian

Editor’s Pick: The Dirty Duck Pub. The capital’s go-to spot for English pub culture, complete with country pub-style brews, darts, pool, and all-hour screens so you don't have to miss out.

 

Local Band of the Year

Winner: The Hot Club of Beijing

If the capital’s pulsing to a jazz beat lately, it’s partly thanks to the hard swinging rhythms of these dapper gents. Plucked from the 1930s of Django Reinhardt’s Hot Club of France, they bring French, Greek, American, and Chinese talent together for unforgettable evenings of gypsy jazz. After back-to-back Best Band wins earlier in the decade, they’re back on top, promising more of their fire and elegance for fans new and old. Find them out June 14 at Modernista’s Hot Club Swing Party, June 21 at DDC, and every Friday at Frank’s by Ala House.

Honorable Mention: Stevie Mac & the Mac Daddies

Editor’s Pick: The Hunters. Our favorite expat quintet exploded onto the Beijing scene this year with an intoxicating mix of fresh and old school funk, soul, and rock.

 
Outstanding Hotel Bar

O'Bar (NUO Hotel)

With a drinks menu designed by Beijing’s star mixologists, wines from around the world, and expansive surroundings including both an outdoor terrace and private room, O’Bar is a chic avant-garde venue for sophisticated urbanites to play and prowl. Add acoustic talent from their Argentinean band and it’s the low-key elegance that invites you to unwind after those long office days.

Honorable Mention: X 25 (W Beijing)

Editor’s Pick: R Bar (Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing). Chic lounge by day, this lobby-adjacent refuge transforms at night with live DJs.

 

Outstanding Hutong Bar

Winner: Mao Mao Chong

This relaxed escape from the Nanluoguxiang crush and the flashy sheen of Sanlitun continues to win fans across the city. Savor the downhome charm of the husband and wife team behind the bar, the art on the walls, and gourmet pizza they serve up to hungry visitors. With reasonable prices and a range of creative cocktails, they’ve earned their stars.

Honorable Mention: Modernista

Editor’s Pick: The Tiki Bungalow. How sad we are to report the closure of our favorite hutong hole-in-the-wall. But onward march the bricks. We’ll down some rum in their honor.

 

Party of the Year

Chi Fan for Charity

You’re like us, Beijing: You love a good community cause. Nothing in the capital does it like this annual feast for charity, celebrated at some of the finest restaurants in town. With hundreds and thousands volunteering as table hosts or hungry supporters, the charity has already raised many millions in support of China’s children and neediest. Keep eating, Beijing!

Honorable Mention: Fête de la Musique -- it's coming soon!

Editor’s Pick: The Color Run. With all the joy of a Holi celebration and the health benefits of a 5K, we’re each a winner in this carnival-like race.

Hutong while you can

 

Club of the Year

Winner: Club Mix

In Beijing, nightlife venues come and go, passing into and out of popularity as quickly as the next place is built. Not so for Club MIX, which is over a decade old and still winning the hearts of our voters. The Gongti giant regularly hosts top international DJs and throws some of the most vibrant parties in town.

Honorable Mention: Lantern

Editor’s Pick: Dada. Everyone’s go-to dive and mecca for local underground electronic music and more mainstream visiting acts.

 

Shop of the Year

Winner: Pop-Up Beijing

For three years in a row, Pop-up Beijing has won top honors. We are totally not surprised. Their gorgeous showroom explores the design possibilities of Chinese antiques, and they also stock boutique labels that are hard to find elsewhere. But that's not the end of it. Pop-up Beijing also hosts a packed roster of events, including flea markets, movie nights, and drawing sessions, which means plenty of opportunities to sip wine and consider buying that cabinet you’ve been eyeing.

Honorable Mention: Plastered 8

Editor’s Pick: UCCA Design Store is eye-wateringly expensive, so we've never actually bought anything there. But we always find ourselves visiting while at 798, fiddling with their merchandise and marveling at the clever designs.

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robbinsadam
Adam Robbins is a former Managing Editor for City Weekend Beijing. After leaving small town Maine for an education at Harvard and UT Austin, he moved on to Minnesota to help win marriage equality. Before traveling on to Shenzhen, he spent three years helping the Beijing LBGT Center, Beijing Gender, and other LGBT institutions survive this period of scrutiny and restriction.

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