As we head into the New Year, we take a look at some of the best bars that opened in Shanghai this year. With great service, excellent cocktails and banging music, these new Shanghai nightlife spots charmed their way on to our favorites list of 2017.
Address: 71 Wuyuan Lu (near Changshu Lu) 五原路71号(近常熟路)
If you thought speakeasies were dead and gone, you were dead wrong. This year, believe it or not, we’ve seen a surge of them, starting with Second Moment. Hidden in the back of Sichuan restaurant Spicy Moment, Second Moment is headed by luminary mixologist Eddy Yang, who has kept himself busy the second part of this year with Above The Globe and finding a new space Tailor Bar. Décor is sparse, but the prohibition-style cocktails have strength.
Address: 7/F, 1013 Beijing Xi Lu (near Jiangning Lu) 北京西路1013号7楼 (近江宁路)
Above The Globe resides in the mock McKinnon Hotel, home to the highly lauded immersive reinterpretation of Macbeth, Sleep No More. Drinks here hit the lavish RMB100-and-above mark and come in three categories: Comedy, Tragedy and History, billed as “girly”, “strong” and “classic”, respectively, and all are what you’d expect from a talent like Yang. It’s pricey, but the bar works for what it is—a place to knock back a few while retelling your Sleep No More experience.
Address: 209 Maoming Bei Lu (near Wujiang Lu) 茂名北路209号 (近吴江路)
It’s a microbrewery of immense fame via way of Chicago. The Shanghai branch boasts 29 taps, several craft beers by the bottle, some even barrel-aged. It’s certainly stirring up the beer scene in Shanghai, offering up beer nerds a place to roost with workshops, on-site brewing, and exotic seasonal flavors. And they do it all under the watchful eye of brewmaster Fraser Kennedy. The food isn’t half bad either—go for the burrata, steaks, and the mac and cheese.
Address: Found 158, 158 Julu Lu (near Ruijin Lu) 巨鹿路158号B1层5152 (近瑞金路)
Blackstone is a craft cocktail bar / magic theater that’s worth more than the gimmick that defines it. Behind it is Anson Chen, owner and the heir to the Bund 18 fortune, and Chris Xi, formerly of Epic. They serve both classic and inventive cocktails, the latter of which has equal showmanship as the magic shows. The main event here is the regular magic shows that they put on in a small amphitheater behind a curtain for RMB240, including a cocktail. It’s not an everyday bar, but it’s sure worth the trip.
Address: Unit 02, No. 16, Xintiandi, 181 Taicang Lu (near Huangpi Nan Lu) 太仓路181弄新天地16号02单元 (近黄陂南路)
Xixi Bistro reopened in Xintiandi with not one but two bars. There’s a tiki bar that’s more laidback and casual, and a speakeasy with 1930s Shanghai vibes. Drinks are courtesy of talented Bar Manager Jiang Yifu, whose put in back breaking work to craft both menus. Tiki cocktails lighter, easier to drink and are made to pair with the food upstairs. More developed drinks like tea-based infusions and charcoal-colored bases live in the speakeasy part of the space. While the drinks at the speakeasy are much more sophisticated, we’d prefer to hang out at the tiki bar.
Address: 99 Yandang Lu (near Nanchang Lu) 雁荡路99号 (近南昌路)
From renowned mix master Shingo Gokan of Speak Low fame comes Sober Company, a multifaceted cocktail bar and restaurant, situated where the cobblestones of Yandang Lu clash with the tarmac of Nanchang Lu. Like Speak Low, the top floor (Sober Society) sells the top-shelf stuff. Unlike Speak Low, it’s not as elaborate.They’re aperitivo mixes, the kind of stuff you can drink around 3pm and not feel too guilty, like The Garibaldi (Campari and orange juice) or The Vermouth Spritz.
Address: 60 Nanchang Lu (near Yandang Lu) 南昌路60号 (近雁荡路)
Former pupil of Daniel, bar master Jack Li has more than earned his stripes with this one. He’s got Poker House settled in a quaint lane house in the FFC, pouring beautifully put together, innovative cocktails. Everyone keeps to themselves here, save for the opportunity to draw a card after each drink that might win you another beverage. It’s an ace establishment that’s well suited for a sophisticated date night.
Address: 6/F, 37 Fuzhou Lu (near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu) 福州路37号6楼 (近东山东一路)
The Bund makes for steep prices and fancy occasions, but take a detour up a dingy hostel elevator and you’ll find the one thing this side of the city is missing: an affordable bar with a view. The Captain has resurfaced with a new bartender, Geo Valdivieso (formerly of UNÏCO Shanghai), at the tiller. The view, coupled with the solid cocktials makes it the perfect port for a long night out, before or after hitting the Bund’s other stand-bys. And of course, you can always ask for a beer or house pour if it’s just a stunning view you seek.
Address: 1019 Wuding Lu (near Jiaozhou Lu) 武定路1019号 (近胶州路)
Wuding Lu is taking off with a revival, as a slew of new bars and restaurants crowd the once quiet street. One of the latest additions is Barbarian, which is taking a back-to-basics approach, doing away with the cocktail menu and instead customizing a cocktail based on your unique flavor profile. It’s a quirky spin, but with that, expect service times to yo-yo depending if they’re busy.
Address: 44 Sinan Lu (near Gaolan Lu) 思南路44号 (近皋兰路)
Daniel An has found a new home for Taste Buds Cocktail Palace, taking over an antique furniture store/cafe on Sinan Lu. The place is festooned with objects you’d expect to find at your grandparent’s house—Tiffany lampshades, Andrew’s Sisters swing remixes and a clean-coated red painted bar pays homage to hutong-era architecture. Decor has style, and you won't find anything else like it in town. Daniel has retained most of his signatures, adding a dozen or so new drinks to christen the establishment. From presentation to taste, complexity to bold simplicity, Antique is an example of what happens with a talented mixologist behind the bar.
Address: 361 Kangding Lu (near Shaanxi Bei Lu) 康定路361号 (近陕西北路)
There’s little reference to archaeology at this bar. That doesn’t quite matter, as the cocktails and well-prepped waitstaff guide and surprise you with delicious, attractive cocktails. It’s also backed 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, with an entrance marked by a telephone booth.
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