Maltail, located across from First Floor on Sanlitun Houjie, offers two menus. One with six long pages of unclassified cocktails and the other consisting solely of whiskey. The slightly overwhelming, but thorough selection ups the ante on this notoriously scuzzy bar street as a distinguished drinkery to sink into.

We first ordered the Bubbling Ginger (RMB 60), a house special consisting of sparkling wine, gin, lemon juice and ginger syrup. The champagne saucer contained a pleasingly generous helping of this spicy, sweet grape fizz.

Next up was Maltail’s version of the tiki cocktail made famous by the Hilton Kuala Lumpur. The Jungle Bird (RMB 50) is an easy-to-drink mix of black rum, Campari, lime juice, pineapple, and simple syrup. It boasted a fresh pineapple base, and although we could sip it like a kid with a juice box, the proportions were thankfully heavy on the spirit side. If you arrive with the munchies, they also offer elegant snacking options via Manchego cheese (RMB 45, 50g) and Iberian ham (RMB 110, 50g).

The area is running the risk of becoming saturated with bars that can be described as (take your pick) gentlemen’s clubs/whiskey bars/speakeasies and two-floor Maltail is another of them. How could we tell? The warm ambiance, fake candles, wooden decor, lounge music, bow tie and vest ensemble – the list goes on, but all were dead giveaways.

It might be too soon to tell whether Maltail has what it takes to stand out from the crowd, but for now, we don’t care – we like it as an affordable and comfortable venue for escaping the grease-stricken back road.

Daily 7pm-Late. Opposite the west entrance of 3.3 Shopping Mall, Sanlitun Houjie, Chaoyang District (6417 7758)
朝阳区三里屯后街 3.3 大厦西门斜对面

Also try: Apothecary, Hidden House

Photos: Ken

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