Shanghai is on a mission to slake your thirst, whatever your preferred poison. We’ve peeked inside the city’s enviable drinks cabinet and found the best bars for each of the key spirits – vodka, whisky, tequila, rum and gin all get a look in. Bottoms up!
Fave tipple: Vodka
Visit: The Nest
Flap your wings and fly to The Nest, a design-led, Bund-side beauty with a refined loungey atmosphere and bird’s-eye cityscapes. Flawless Grey Goose vodka-infused cocktails are paired with a tempting array of seafood snacks – oysters and black pearl caviar, anyone? Brave sorts should try the Viking’s Breath, a potent potion of vodka, cynar, orange, wolfberries and a punch of German horseradish paste. Or, spice it up with a cinnamon sour featuring pear vodka, eau de vie liqueur and rose petals.
Fave tipple: Whisky
Even if you didn’t enjoy science lessons, you’ll love LAB, particularly if you’re crushing on grain-based booze. This hip-happening, two-tiered Jing'an sipster is renowned for its excellent whisky selection, with its walls are lined with premium spirits, which you can admire by candlelight; the dapper drinkers are also worth an eyeful.
Fave tipple: Tequila
Visit: El Ocho
Forget Willy Wonka – the Willy we’re interested in is Willy Trullas Moreno, who Shanghai has to thank for the former French Concession’s El Efante restaurant, El Willy and El Coctel bar (RIP). El Ocho continues Moreno’s winning streak: it’s a tucked-away heritage honey replete with speakeasy staples. We’re talking exposed brick a-go-go, timber, high-vaulted ceilings, low lighting and oversized leather-velvet combos. The drinks are anything but standard: potent, pitch-perfect classic cocktails that attract a sophisticated, sybaritic crowd.
Fave tipple: Rum
Visit: Unico by Mauro Colagreco
This Latin-loving lounge and restaurant on the Bund has a flair for late-night tapas (Michelin-starred Argentinian chef Colagreco is in charge, after all) and any-time rum and pisco. Feel-good South American vibes and an equally sizzling crowd are other reasons why the punters flock here. Join them.
Fave tipple: Gin
Visit: Speak Low
Speak Low snagged a top spot in Asia's 50 Best Bars 2017; no wonder the judges were won over by the Japanese-style precision tipples from ex NY-barman Shingo Gokan. Call us unoriginal, but our fave has to be the eponymous Speak Low: a bittersweet, choc-Bacardi-sherry concoction. This multi-level libations haven attracts a crowd that seems to increase in glitziness, the higher up you go.
The Nest / 6/F / Zhongshi Mansion / 130 Beijing Dong Lu / Huangpu / +86 21 6308 7669 / 5pm-1am Sun-Thu, 5.30pm-3am Fri-Sat / facebook.com
LAB / 1093 Wuding Lu / Jingan / +86 21 6255 1195 / 6pm-2am daily
El Ocho / 3/F / 99 Taixing Lu / Jingan / +86 21 6256 3587 / 7pm-2pm Tue-Sat / elwillygroup.com
Unico by Mauro Colagreco / 2/F / 3 on the Bund / 17 Guangdong Lu / Huangpu / +86 21 5308 3599 / 6pm-late daily / unicoshanghai.com
Speak Low / 579 Fuxing Zhong Lu / Huangpu / +86 21 6416 0133 / 6pm-late daily