39 Yongkang Lu
Ginseng Cocktail Bar
Unlike its global counterparts New York and Paris, Shanghai does not have much in the way of secret speakeasies or glamorous hole-in-the-wall bars. However rare though, they do exist, and are often well worth the trouble to find – take Ginseng, which recently and whisper-quietly opened on Yongkang Lu. The bar, a truly tiny, low-lit and low-fuss space that’s literally under a staircase, has but a handful of seats strewn around a bar, and a lovely intimate ambiance from the moment you locate and step through the correct unmarked door.
Originally intended as a spot for close friends to catch up, it’s also become a bar for cocktail lovers with a sense of adventure, and maybe a taste for the namesake root. The house signature is the Ginseng Vodka Martini with ginseng-steeped vodka, sweet vermouth and lemon zest, the kumquat-saturated vodka is also a fan favourite, and though the infused spirits are the specialty, there’s a full bar to satisfy all palates. You can be sure too that you’re getting your money’s worth, as the cocktails here are notoriously strong – we suggest ordering the ginseng and wine marinated soybeans to get the full root treatment.