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New Drinks: 8-BIT v.2
A look inside the new 8-Bit on Beiluoguxiang. Retro video games, craft beer, upscale cocktails and a tropical rooftop. Press start for the tour...
By Aug 14, 2015 Nightlife
From it's previous incarnation as a drunk and humble one-room bar on Jiaodaokou Nandajie, retro video games bar 8-BIT has undergone a huge upgrade -- it's more like 32 or 64 bits now -- and is now open on Beiluoguxiang.

It's huge. They're offering three floors of retro games-themed stuff, and as well as Arrow Factory craft beer on tap, a fully developed specialty and standard cocktails menu, a food menu, a rooftop terrace, and moar, moar, moar.

Cheat code to the ending: They've done a fantastic job. It's a really great bar. Everything's been thought-out and poured over, and everything from the broad strokes to the tiny details has been fully considered and realized. You always got the impression with 8-BIT V.1 that the retro video games -- the Nintendo, Sega, and N64 stations -- were just a hook to get people into the place, and then it was a pretty standard bar after the fact. With the earlier place though, the video games took up the most room, and you could never really get away from them being the central focus. With this place, they've got so much room and other stuff going on, that even thought you might drop by to play your childhood favorites video games for a half hour or so, it's comfortable enough to hang out and have some drinks in.

Here's the tour:

This is the first floor, with the craft beer bar and video game stations lining the walls. Beer is exclusively Arrow Factory. If you've been to the earlier 8-BIT, it's the same thing going on with the games. A few classic Nofriendos, a Super Nofriendo, a N64, some Segas, and whatever else. They've got cartridge games as well as an emulator that's got the full library for the Nintendo.

Games like... Mario, Sonic, Tetris, Street Fighter 2, Killer Instinct, F-Zero, Streets of Rage, Starwing, Super Bomberman, Primal Rage, Mario Kart, Metroid, Mega Man, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, NBA JAM, AND NBA JAM.

Follow Mr. Stardust to the second floor...

The second floor is a leather-seats drinks lounge, with an ex-bartender from Parlor mixing up specialty and standard cocktails. It's a little hip and classy, with a video installation thing undulating on the walls and a bar design that's Twin Peaks-themed. This is where they're hosting their DJ-party stuff as well, maybe pushing the chairs to the sides for a small dance floor space. It doesn't go so far as a full-on club though.

One more flight up stairs up to the roof...

The rooftop is a green and leafy sort of thing, with plants lining the rails, wicker furniture, and a fake grass floor cover. It's kind of like a Miami putt-putt course. It's a great rooftop, mercifully music-free and high enough above street level that you get a nice breeze. Very tranquil. Great place to relax and get a bit tipsy.

For drinks, it's cocktails for 50rmb. And they're very much worth trying. We cycled through the...

"Yoshi's Envy"...

the "Flawless Passion"...

the "Princess X"...

and the "Curry Me Old Fashion".

Excellent. Excellent drinks. Lots of fancy and wonderful things done with rum. The "Curry Me Old Fashion" is the one to get, with a unique and strong curry zing. Pretty unique in Beijing. Starting next Wednesday is cocktails night -- buy-one-get-one free. Good deal.

Food is what they're calling "Sushi burritos", which is sushi presented in a burrito shape. Three variations -- a salmon, a crab meat, and a veggie. Pretty clever nod to the home of Nintendo, Japan, as well as presenting a trendy, with-it food truck sort of vibe. They've also got Japanese-style chicken popcorn, which was delicious, and are adding a meat and veggie burger option.

8-BIT is planning an emphasis on their food menu, and will be expanding it and launching lunch time hours in September.

The future: Lots of stuff planned for special events. A "Video Game Speed Dating Night", retro-themed quizzes, unplugged music, a yoga teacher up on the roof, and '80s parties, '80s parties, '80s parties. They've got one on this Saturday.

The Take-Away: Dude, it's pretty fuckin' sweet. No other way to say it. Easily one of the best new bars to open in Beijing in a long time. They've done an excellent job, really pouring some heart into the place. As I said up there somewhere, they've really got great attention to detail, and have provided lots of different ways to enjoy the space. With the three floors, it's like you're speeding through the maturation process -- the first floor is video games and craft beer, the second floor is proper cocktails in a hip lounge, and the third floor is where you go to run away from the kids and have polite chit-chat and a sensible amount of beverages in a place that feels like Florida.

And then if the mood strikes you've always got the option of regressing right on back through...


8-BIT is at 13 Beiluoguxiang, just past The Other Place. They're open daily from 5pm to 1am, closed on Mondays.


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