Leon Lee triumphantly returns to the Capital cocktail party scene with CBD
When Janes and Hooch closed at the end of 2019, it seemed like we were saying goodbye to the last vestige of Leon Lee’s handcrafted cocktail legacy in the capital. Lee, whose resume also includes the distinction of former editor-in-chief of that same publication, gained international fame as a bartender after founding Apothecary (and later Janes and Hooch), which served Nali Patio until ‘in 2015.
After the shutdown, Lee traveled to Taiwan, where he continued to embark on entrepreneurial and passion projects – namely fermentation, a craft he acquired in his hometown of San Francisco – but , demonstrating the power of attraction that Beijing has on itself. residents of time, he couldn’t help but dream of returning to open another cocktail bar – a one-off-type place that would be bursting with life. Not in Sanlitun this time around though – it would have to be far from this busy area, but central enough to be convenient.
Finally, this dream manifested in the form of CDB (Cocktails and Dessert Bar). Located in the unpretentious location of Liufang Nanli, about a twenty-minute walk north of Dongzhimen subway station, visitors take an elevator to the second floor where they are greeted by a host and seated under the unfinished ceiling which preserves the character of the old building, while much of what lies beneath the ceiling combines woodland comfort with tasteful abstract art.
At the center of the space is the wine table – the wine list is predominantly Burgundian with a selection of natural wines that go soft on the “funk”, focusing on the overall quality rather than the intense sourness that has become so popular lately.
As you would expect the drinks are superb. The summer cocktail menu (which ranges from 98-108 RMB per glass) is a good mix of quirky creations and twists on classics, with most tending to focus on summer flavors rather than the taste of it. ‘alcohol. For example, among the low ABV option, Paloma Por Mi Amante combines por mi amante’s strawberry with paloma grapefruit for an extra refreshing sip. There are also a few mojitos to satisfy those looking for the familiar, but rather than rum, they’re made with gin or brandy. As Lee says, “When people come in and ask for a mojito, we give it to them, but at least they won’t leave without trying something a little different!” “
Among the bar’s specialty cocktails for the current season, whiskey lovers should try their sour – the Clarified State of Mind offers a fascinating variation of the New York Sour with lemon, cane, whey, bitters. orange and topped with a French wine that settles obediently over the drink for a glass that is as photographable as it is drinkable. Another good choice of whiskey is Strawb-oulivard, made with strawberry infused Campari and sweet vermouth.
Drinks cover a lot of the basics, but it’s clear that each has been well thought out and perfected through experimentation. “I really buy into that American spirit of just coming back and continually improving something until it’s the best it can be,” Lee recalls.
The last part of the menu includes a few ‘strong’ drinks for those who like them like that – for example, the Tropical Old Fashioned, which is not at all old fashioned with flavors of vanilla, chocolate and coconut mist. , which makes it one of the best drinks to pair with chocolate pecans.
Speaking of snacks, the food menu is as much an essential part of the experience as the drinks. “To me, food and drink are not meant to be separate,” says Lee, who will say that drinking without food is a phenomenon only found in the most recent annals of human history. The menu he prepared, however, is far from traditional, embracing an almost tapas-like philosophy when it comes to snacks.
Items like pepper donuts, roasted pork belly lettuce wraps and New Zealand mussels with toast will keep you full at dinner time, while those who come in later can still choose red wine and eyebrow sugar mushrooms, citrus marinated olives and black mushroom pate with truffles.
But you just can’t visit this bar without trying the desserts, which are prepared like no other bar in town. In fact, they are prepared behind the bar by Lee’s business partner, Olivia Zheng, Michelin Star Awarded Dessert Chef.
You can’t go wrong with Chocolatechocolatechocolatechocolate (unless you’re allergic to chocolate), and the yogurt mouse is also a great way to end a robust meal. Watching them happen is also a good time if you are sitting at the bar.
But it’s worth noting that many customers shuttle between snacks and desserts. This isn’t how your mom taught you to eat, but like everything else in this bar, it’s quite an experience.
As for the suite, the bar is still under construction – it will eventually occupy the first floor of the building once the renovations are complete, and an upscale cocktail and wine bar is almost ready on the third. But until then, a visit to the second floor is already worth the detour.
Liufang Nanli, Building 4, 2F
4 号楼 二层
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Images: Courtesy of The Bar, Joey Knotts, Yue Liu