June 2, 2017Posted by Bethany Larson Bloch
For a night out in China’s capital of cool, HUNT Shanghai writer Sophie Friedman recommends getting dressed up and going out for an upscale bar crawl in order to imbibe as wide a range of the delicious cocktails being created around town.
Start at proper speakeasy Speak Low, the entrance of which is hidden within a bar supply shop. It’s low-lit and intimate on the main floor, but go upstairs, figure out how to open the door and you’ll find yourself in a lovely, secluded area with more seating and a whole other bar. The English Mule, a Moscow Mule made with Earl Grey-infused gin, served in the standard copper mug, is sublime.
Walk west on Fuxing Lu and head for The Union Trading Company. There are an astounding 100-odd drinks available; Sophie is fond of the refreshing Waltzing Matilda, made with gin, white and sparkling wines, prosecco, passion fruit syrup and lime juice. The drink dates from 1895, proving that good taste never goes out of style.
Senator Saloon isn’t a speakeasy, but it’s barely marked entrance belies the warm space within. Priding itself as a whiskey bar, the menu is full of old standbys like Manhattans, Old Fashions and Mint Juleps, as well as twists on traditional tipples, like the sweet Bee’s Knees, made with gin, lemon juice and lemongrass-infused honey delivered in a Champagne coupe.
Walking into Starling you’re hit with full-on colonial vibes: a richly patterned tile floor, polished dark woods and Palisade ceiling fans that whir overhead. Created by the editors of China’s bar industry magazine DRiNK, this place is definitely more than just looks. Go for The Monsoon, a concoction of Grand Marnier, lime, rum, ginger, bitters and curry leaves.
Some might call it gaudy, but I love the red bar, blue velvet stools, lavender trim and chartreuse ceiling at Taste Buds Cocktail Palace, which is found south of el Coctel. Don’t miss the Tale of Mulata, a kicky concoction of chili-infused rum, lime juice and basil, topped with rose petals and gold flakes, and served in a glass wrapped in imitation US dollar bills that will have you ending your night with a spicy, cheeky bang.
About The HUNT Shanghai writer: Sophie Friedman moved from New York to Shanghai with two suitcases, no plan and speaking not a word of Mandarin. Seven years later, she’s traversed Asia, learned to love squat toilets and has written extensively about traveling to Shanghai.
For more great insider recommendations in Shanghai, pick up the guide on gatehousepublishing.com.