2/F / 47 Yongfu Lu / By Fuxing Xi Lu /
+86 21 6433 6511 / 5pm-3am Mon-Sat
Spanish and Japanese inflected mixology den
In a city rapidly ascending into space-aged global superstardom, it’s nice to see a nod to nostalgia once in awhile. Intimate French Concession lounge El Coctel is precisely that – a loving and sophisticated throwback to the Golden Age of Cocktails, and a serious study in devout mixology appreciation. The telltale ‘speakeasy’ signs are there – the unmarked door, the dim-lit interior, the generous lashings of mahogany – but the difference is in the meticulous yet uncomplicated detail.
There’s the wall constructed from cocktail shakers, the ornate floral ceiling motif by Veronica Ballart Lilja, the plush deco accents, and the obvious zesty influence of Barcelona-born proprietor Willy (of el Willy fame). And that’s before we get to the drinks.
Direct from Ginza, Tokyo, comes head barman Munenori Harada, who along with his dapper, tie-and-cufflink-clad team, brings understated elegance and eagle-eyed Japanese precision to the table.
Premium spirits, intriguing imports like Sakura cherry blossom liqueur, homemade soda and tonic, and three kinds of ice are cleverly mix-n-matched to perfection on the extensive drinks list, where classics like the Gin Fizz, Bermuda Mule and Black Manhattan are complemented by a small menu of buttery pressed sandwiches and delicious tapas plates. While other bars come and go, El Coctel has cemented its place on the ‘here to stay’ circuit. If you’re a Shanghai-bound sipster, miss it if you dare.