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Speak Low + Sober Company

July 20, 2016
There are good cocktail bars and bad ones, and you don’t want to waste an evening in the latter. For surefire quality quaffing, seek out Japanese mix master Shingo Gokan’s two tempting Shanghai watering holes.

The award-winning Tokyo-born bartender earned his stripes at New York’s neo-speakeasy Angel’s Share, before scoring a hit with Shanghai’s sophisticates with the 2014 launch of inventive, elegant libation lounge Speak Low. Tucked away in an unlikely part of town, it’s actually three-speakeasies-in-one hidden over three levels (shh!).

Reached via a sliding bookshelf in streetside cocktail equipment store Ocho, the secret second-floor offering is uptempo and perfect for casual Friday night action. Classic drinks, with classic twists, are served speedily with standing room only; choose between NY staples and house signatures like the Sawadee-Cup, a surprising blend of buttered rum, Thai iced tea and tapioca. Head upstairs to the third level and push the button to discover a quieter London-inspired second bar serving more complex, pricier combinations with full seating (order the chocolatey bitter-sweet Speak Low ‘tail, combining rum, sherry and matcha tea, influenced by Japan’s tea ceremony). A third bar, on the fourth floor behind an ‘Employees Only’ sign, hosts limited seats, with bottle service.

Gokan’s newest coffee-cum-cocktail concept Sober Company, which launches this month, is a total departure but will also appeal to the connoisseur. Sip it and see…

Speak Low / 579 Fu Xing Zhong Lu / Huangpu / +86 21 6416 0133 / 6pm-2am Sun-Thu, 6pm-3am Fri-Sat