Commonplace as closures have become in our increasingly gentrified capital, some are harder to swallow than others. Sanlitun lounge Botany announced yesterday that will before shutting down for good, after a closing party on Mar 27.
Owner Frankie Zou blamed the closure on a rent hike on his Yoolee Plaza digs. On the bright side, he pledged to focus on his burgeoning gin distilling business, ensuring the beloved Botany brand will at least live on in bottle form.
Regardless, the capital’s cocktail fans will sorely miss Zou’s lounge, famed for its down-to-earth vibe and creative recipes. Ever since he first opened in the Sanlitun-adjacent building in 2016, swaths of imitators have been stirring upscale fare like truffles in their own drinks, to diminishing returns. When licensing crackdowns and rent hikes made operating at his original location unfeasible, Zou shut down and reopened Botany downstairs last fall, adding a food menu to the offerings.
Zou’s success at Botany was preceded by a stint at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore and a gig at high-end Beijing restaurant TRB. He also worked for a stint at an ultra-secretive Forbidden City neighboring club that hosted movie stars such as Fan Bingbing, although he politely demurred from telling us the club’s name. Closing Botany and renewing his focus on handcraft spirits certainly makes for an exciting twist in Zou’s storied Beijing F&B career.
If you’re saddened by these developments, then drown your sorrows with one of Botany’s final Wednesday happy hours between 7-9pm, when you can get an individual pizza and gin and tonic or beer for a measly RMB 50. Or, even better: sit tight for word on the launch party for Zou’s new gin, which he plans to host sometime next month.
Photo courtesy of Botany, Kyle Mullin