Bar Review: Yin

Having announced the charitable intentions of Yin Bar at the Emperor Hotel a few days ago, I figured I should at least check it out and give to the victims of the earthquake. Walking in to the hotel, you quickly see why it is part of the Design Hotels group as it has a very stylish, modern lobby area.

The bar is on the hotel's roof which is on the 4th floor, but there is no elevator (strike one, this is a brand new hotel, its failure to pay attention to accessibility is striking). It is an outdoor wood deck and the seating area is relatively small, however there are stairs that lead to 2 decks and more seating. Even with the upper decks, it seems they are trying to maintain a degree of exclusivity by keeping the number down and even at its fullest, it still felt very peaceful. For atmosphere, they had a live Dj spinning chilled house music.

The drink menu has one of the city's wider selections of top shelf liquor and some interesting cocktails with names all beginning with Emperor, except you quickly find out they just include HuangJiu. The Emperor Mojito was an interesting concoction, a regular mojito with the aforementioned edition of huangjiu and while I found it incredibly sweet, being an absolute huangjiu hater, I still found it drinkable, the flavor of the huangjiu masked by the lime. The regular mojito was a bit weaker than what I'd expect, especially having just sampled a mojito at The Saddle a few days prior (when The Saddle says the drinks are strong, they mean it!).

It's time to mention the prices, because this is important. To drink here, you don't need an expat's package, you need an Emperor's package. All the drinks are basically double or more what you'd pay anywhere else (bottled beers around RMB50, the mojito was RMB87). The drinks, however, aren't any better than what you'd get at one of the fancier places (Q Bar, Suzie Wong, etc) and in some cases, are worse. They are also some of the most expensive I've come across in China, even outdoing places like CJW or Shanghai's Barbarossa. US$12 for a mojito would be high in New York, in Beijing its downright offensive, especially when the quality isn't there.

For the price you are paying, you'd expect excellent service, but after sitting for 10 minutes without a single wait person stopping by and without a menu, I had to go find one. After that, service was somewhat spotty at best. When they could be found, they were excellent, even offering to switch the Emperor Mojito if it wasn't to our liking, but they often couldn't be found. Also, rarely found in the capital, Yin offers free snacks to all patrons, their offerings are nuts and breadsticks, a nice touch (referring back to The Saddle, they also offer snacks, though they choose (incredibly salty) popcorn to match with your margarita).

The view is what sets this place apart, you sit eye level with the Forbidden City and can see Jingshan and BaiTa off in the distance, its a unique experience from that standpoint. The location on Beichizi is dead at night, so its going to be hard to draw patrons and the prices will push a lot of customers away, except those out for a special night. It's a unique new edition to the Beijing scene, but who's going to go?

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