Think of Beijing’s best-looking drinking destinations and names like The Other Place and Arch Bar will pop up. But UNION, the brand new lobby bar at The Opposite House looks set to be added to that list.
While The Opposite House itself was designed by celebrated Japanese art and design genius Kengo Kuma, the plan for its new cocktail bar was entrusted to AvroKO, the leading New York-based design firm behind Gotham West Market’s modern food halls and the yokocho-style izakaya Momotaro in Chicago.
For the oldest hotel in The House Collective — Swire Hotels’s group of highly individualised properties – there is nothing very old about this place. The striking building first opened in 2008 in Village Sanlitun, the open-plan shopping district that’s now the symbol of Beijing nightlife. Kuma’s original design mixes dramatic contemporary style with traditional Chinese designs and abundant space, and UNION wants to complement that.
As most lobby bars go, this is a versatile space that is as much a space for light working as it is a social hotspot. The whimsical bar, designed by AvroKO’s Bangkok studio, embodies the sensibilities of 1920s modernism and come inspired by potter Lucie Rie’s 20th century modernist studio.
Seemingly simple in nature, copper architectural elements and metal mesh sheets frame a number of artwork, sculptures, and objects that attract guests.
Your experience here is carefully curated, and they’ve created a space with well-executed hospitality in mind. From the entrance, a copper expo wall and two bold wood-wrapped entry portals will captivate you. The mesh walls play the role of a functional barrier from the hotel reception, doubling up as a bar back for bar equipment and liquor. Warm lighting creates a welcoming, personal experience while a rotating soundtrack of light jazz and soft tunes lets the bar transition seamlessly through day to night. So in a way, even your energy levels are managed.
But this is a bar after all. UNION’s beverage programme comes inspired by the flavours, ingredients, and drinking traditions of the Silk Road. Enjoy an extensive wine list made up of 60 bins that are available by the glass, representing lesser-known producers, hard-to-find bottles, and biodynamic wines. As for the cocktails, you’ll want to taste highlights like the Genghis Khan Martini, made with French gin, Mongolian milk wine, dry vermouth, elderflower and coconut. There’s also Spring Breeze, a non-alcoholic concoction of pear, vanilla, and coconut in a representation of East Chinese flavours.
Coming after The Opposite House’s contemporary atrium art gallery and speciality Peking duck restaurant Jing Yaa Tang, UNION is just one of the hotel’s new spaces to be unveiled in 2019. For now, we’re already thoroughly impressed.
UNION is located at Level 1, The Opposite House, Taikoo Li Sanlitun North, No.11 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100027, p. +86 10 6410 5180. Open daily 11am – 1am.