Shanghai cocktail bars are plentiful and stylish; and show a marked tendency to use premium spirits in their cocktails. You could drink all day long and still not scratch the surface of the swathe of bars this mega-city has to offer. I took in as many as I could (in six and a half days) and still feel like I barely scratched the surface. However I did manage to find the perfect martini…
Bars for: The Location
Location is often a big part of why we choose bars, and there are a couple of Shanghai bars worth going to for the location alone. Cloud 9 on the 87th floor of Pudong’s Jinmao Tower is one such bar, although you’d be better to go on a clearer day than I chose.
Nonetheless sitting up in the clouds, looking down on the construction of the neighbouring tower (without safety fences) is a worthwhile experience. Do it with a Frozen Cucumber Martini (90 Yuan) of premium tequila, Grand Marnier, cucumber and lime juice in your hand…
On the top deck of the Fairmont Peace Hotel The Cathay Room has a great balcony with Huangpu River views – shame you can’t easily see over the edge when you’re sitting down though!
An Oriental Iced Tea (98 Yuan) and an Apple Martini (128 Yuan) were the most interesting items on the mostly staid list, though I did rate the trio of wagyu sliders we chose to accompany them…
Bars for: The Crowd
While I was in Shanghai, the current it-bar was without a doubt Glamour Bar. It’s convenient location on The Bund makes it easy to find, and affords it great views both through the windows and on the popular balcony. The cocktails are interesting and inventive; I drank Glamourous By Night (118 Yuan) a strong, clear chocolate martini made on Wyborowa ‘Exquisite’ Vodka, white Crème de Cacao and Martini Bianco. With food by M on the Bund, some bar snacks should also be part of your plan…
Whilst the former bar is definitely attracting the city’s hipsters, the previous it-bar down the road, Bar Rouge, is showing no signs of their popularity abating any time soon. The light-up outdoor furniture offers great Oriental Pearl Tower views (when it’s not raining and cloudy). It is a great space to while away the hours with a pungent Wasabi Martini or a gentler blackberry flavoured Diablo in your hand. Gets busy late…
Bars for: The Décor
With the Shanghainese obsession with lights, you’ve got to expect they’re going to use them well in bar fit-outs too.
While I didn’t rate either cocktail I tried - a Seasonal Fruit Martini (75 Yuan) and a Moscow Mule - at TMSK, their lit-up bar and bar stools were very funky. I found the fragmented bathroom mirror entertaining; but I don’t know how I’d feel about it once I was drunk…
Brutal raw concrete, chequerplate and a Lara Croft style entry with no signage (just a set of nine glowing lights that you have to punch the correct entry code into) makes People 7 a hit.
Being daytime I drank Around The World (70 Yuan), a pretty gin and pineapple combination and Sea Waves, which looked radioactive, but drank nicely. A platter of People’s Finger Food (60 Yuan) made me wish I had time to return for dinner…
Over in Pudong, Camelia in the luxury Four Seasons Hotel has an outdoor courtyard that’s really worth a peek. The décor includes a beautiful fire pit, concrete stepping-stones to their outdoor island, and thousands of silver pieces strung to create a wildly intricate backdrop.
Their version of ‘outdoor’ furniture is deeply comfortable – so it’s worth having a Sake‘o’Martini (90 Yuan) or an Espresso Martini while you take it all in.
Bars for: The Drinks
Walking into Bar Constellation in the former French Concession, I immediately start to grin – they have a black-footed pig leg on a stand behind the bar! It’s intimate, and they’re very serious about cocktails and whiskey. The extensive list is full of well-made classics. The bartenders have all adopted a particular shaking rhythm that starts and finishes slowly: nothing’s bruised here.
I loved watching them use tweezers to extract (and separately rehydrate) sakura blossoms for my Sakura Sakura (90 Yuan) and their Beefeater 24 Martini is the absolute bomb.
While we’re talking ‘tinis if you like flavoured ones, I’ll also point you at another former French Concesssion entry, Citizen Bar & Café. Not only do they offer a warm cozy spot with free-WiFi during the day, they also do a great range of cocktails.
I’d switch my breakfast coffee for a Martini Espresso (50 Yuan) any day, and the juice for the Mint Martini. And should you arrive in Shanghai with a cold, the Ginger Martini here is so pungent it’s pretty much guaranteed to cure all ills.
Stay tuned for the next part of my Shanghai adventure. I would be remiss here if I did not thank Hotel Indigo’s Thomas Milazzo. Thomas provided invaluable advice on what’s currently hot in Shanghai, including the it-restaurants and bars. His suggestions formed no small part of my itinerary, and even when I did get intrepid, his advice nearly always worked out better than anything I found on my own. I would also like to thank New Shanghai, for without them I may not have found myself visiting Shanghai at all.
Please also see: Shanghai, Shanghai Eats, Shanghai Sights & Shanghai Attractions.
The Cathay Room
Citizen Bar & Cafe