Commune gathers beer drinkers at Sanlitun Taikooli

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai are often the starting point for popular local chains – Moka Bros or Baker & Spice, for example – so it’s always interesting to see what happens when a chain with roots elsewhere in China tries to enter the Beijing market. . Commune is a chain that is definitely approaching the capital with confidence, opening two new branches in prime locations: Sanlitun’s Taikooli and World City, just north of The Place.

This confidence should come as no surprise if you’ve visited a commune in another city. Chances are you’ve visited one, as they have 80 branches in 31 cities, with plans to open hundreds more in the coming years, backed by significant capital investment (if the name ” Commune” sounds familiar, you may have heard of Commune Reserve, the brand’s more upscale older sibling on Xidawang Lu, which opened last year).

Their combination of a bottle bar and simple Western food menu has proven incredibly popular with Chinese millennials/Gen Z, and the Taikooli branch has already racked up hundreds of Dianping reviews since opening over the New Year. Lunar year.

While Commune branches in other cities tend to opt for a raw wood and raw brick aesthetic, the chain has gone slightly more upscale for its Taikooli outpost.

By day it looks more like a cafe than a bar – a combination of booths and low, long tables in shades of beige and blue – but at night, when the amber lights come on, it’s a any other experience. There is also a large outdoor terrace which is sure to be a hit once the warm weather arrives.

Commune takes a “something for everyone” approach to drinks, with a 20-meter-long cellar of fridges for canned and bottled beers (around 20-40 RMB) and pre-mixed cocktails, as well a whole selection of spirits by the bottle to drink on site or to take away. Pick yours and pay at the bar, or scan the QR code on your table to order. They also serve a selection of classic cocktails (RMB 45-48) such as Whiskey Sour and Piña Colada, as well as a small number of draft beers including Commune Illusionist, a clean and refreshing wheat beer with hints of cloves. and orange peel. brewed exclusively for the chain.

The food is just what you want to soak up a drinking session – platters of snacks to share and juicy burgers. Some dishes came from the communal reserve, such as the communal barbecue burger (88 RMB) with crushed avocado, miso-maple bacon and bacon barbecue sauce, while the crispy golden chicken wings (65 RMB) are a specialty of the commune (we found the garlicky flavor similar to crab dishes from Hong Kong-style typhoon shelters). But by far, our favorite dish is the Oxtail Grilled Cheese (RMB 78), featuring braised oxtail with cheddar and brie cheeses, pickled jalapeños and caramelized onions over marbled rye.

Commune’s bottle bar + western food formula isn’t reinventing the wheel, but then again, maybe the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented? There’s a reason it works pretty well the way it does. For those looking for a trendy and reasonably priced place to hang out in Sanlitun, this is something we’re sure will be popular.

S08-3, 3/F, Sanlitun Taikooli, Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (152 1097 7183)

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Images courtesy of Commune, Robynne Tindall

Joan D. Boling