Through a wonky door on the corner of Kangding Lu and Shaanxi Lu you’ll find Archaeology, a new contender in the local mixology market.
Oddly the references to archaeology are kind of hard to dig up within the decor, aside of a handful of antique books and the occasional knock-off frieze. It contains more nods to Art Deco, while some of the drink names are trying a little too hard to be hip in a more millennial fashion. (Anyone who throws the word “skrrt” in a cocktail’s moniker clearly isn’t thinking about how silly the drinker will sound ordering it.)
Forget what you think you know from reading the ingredients. The flavors tend to veer off course from what’s listed, to a delicious end more often than not. The wait staff is properly prepped to guide you through what tastes like what, and you’d be surprised what ends up working.
It's helmed by bartenders from speakeasy backgrounds—Allen Hsu, formerly of Flask (coke-bottle machine for an entrance that's now moved to Xiangyang Nan Lu) and Allen Fang of Barules (the other hidden entrance bar, marked by a telephone booth).
Wake Me Up (RMB90) is a delicious pick-me-up for the late hours, in which gin, tonic water reduction, lemon juice and Hoegaarden add up to a surprisingly pungent tea flavor.
Dining Inspiration (RMB100) is by all appearances a boozy fruit smoothie, topped with mascarpone cream in a long necked flute–but out of left field, it left the taste of truffles in our mouths, atop the raspberry and bite from the port. It actually sounds stranger than it is.
All of the drinks we tried, from the coffee-heavy Out To Sea (RMB95) to the banana-infused-bourbon based Kangding Avenue (RMB95) were to somebody’s taste at the table. The only potential downside: cocktails here are essentially RMB90-110, and their classy menu of bar bites is no cheaper. It’s in the eyes of the drinker as to whether great cocktails actually merit that much moolah. Regardless, the wares are delicious.
We make no bones about the fact that the drinks Archaeology serves are delish across the board. But will people cough up RMB100 a pop for cocktails at a fairly no-name place? Judging from the empty tables we’ve spotted across the dimly lit bar, the owners might have to jazz things up so as to not become a museum piece.
Our Rating: 4/5 Stars
Address: 361 Kangding Lu (near Shaanxi Bei Lu) 康定路361号 (近陕西北路)
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