A Night of Cocktail Bar Hopping in Shanghai

From intimate nooks seating just 20 or so people, to laid back literary haunts and glamorous bars with dazzling views, Shanghai offers a cocktail crawl for everyone. Here’s one way to spend a night hopping from a martini to a mojito to a mai-tai, while seeing some of the city.

Cocktails with good conversation: YYs

As one of the first institutions to have joined the Shanghai small bar scene, YYs (125 Nanchang Lu) is a fitting place to start. If you’re a writer, poet or Romantic, you’ll be especially smitten, as it’s definitely a hang-out for literary types. Don’t be surprised to find yourself wrapped up in a conversation about politics, books or the purpose of art. The underground location speaks of clandestine adventures, enhanced by the welcoming sign that states, ‘Speak freely’ (not traditionally the done thing in China). 45RMB will buy you a good quality cocktail.

Cocktails in a couch: The Chalet

For an relaxed, down-to-earth, yet a high-quality experience, The Chalet is the place to go. Many of Shanghai’s cocktail bars have become stuck on attempting to imitate what goes on other cities, but The Chalet (385 Yongjia Lu) is very much its own person. The only catch is, the drinks are so cheap and the couches so comfortable, that you might not want to leave. During ‘happy hour’, which happens every day between 3pm and 9pm, 30RMB will buy you a decent-sized cocktail and there are generous bar food portions to match.

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Cocktails with Creedence Clearwater Revival: Time Passage

If the laidback vibe at Chalet leaves you ready to party, you might want to make Time Passage (183 Caojiayuan Lu) your next stop. It’s not exactly a Las Vegas night club, but it certainly offers a louder, rowdier experience. On weekend nights, a Shanghai band, by the name of the Sultans of Swing, jams their way through the classics, covering the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Kinks and, of course, Dire Straits, among others.

Cocktails with a view: The Terrace at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel

At least one of your cocktails should incorporate a view, and there’s probably no better place for that than The Terrace at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel (23 East Nanjing Road). Having been built in 1908, it’s been hosting visitors for more than a hundred years. Enjoy your cocktail while losing yourself in gorgeous views of The Bund and Pudong. If the idea of staying close by appeals, you should be able to find Shanghai Pudong hotels without any trouble.

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Cocktails with a touch of magic: Alchemist Cocktail Kitchen

Just like its vibrant owner, Shanghai restaurateur Kelley Lee, the cocktail menu at the Alchemist Cocktail Kitchen (Sinan Rd, Lu Wan Qu) never rests on its laurels. The bartenders are way too busy coming up with brand new concoctions for that. Expect to see some serious chemistry happen before your very eyes, translating to cocktail flavours that you couldn’t have dreamed up in your wildest science lesson. Take, for example, the popular ‘Yangtze River tea’, combining silver tequila, gold rum, baijiu, a distilled alcohol, and citrus compote with jasmine tea on the side.

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