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TPOL’s Guide to Libations in Shanghai

Where to Drink in Shanghai is part of the TPOL in Shanghai Trip Report.


In 2016, I wrote TPOL’s Guide to A Night in Shanghai. Some things have changed, some places have closed, and some things are exactly the same.

Changes First

“All the drugs and whore houses are gone!” This was the answer by many of the expats I received when I asked what has changed. Interesting that this was the first response.

The truly sad news was the elimination of street BBQs. Word around town is that the crackdown came due to a lack of sanitary conditions. I never got sick once eating the delicious BBQ.

food on a cart with people sitting around it
Sadly this is gone.

Chinese Clubs

Club 88, located next to Kagen Teppanyaki, was closed last time I was in Shanghai. It was replaced by another club which is also closed. It’s sad to see the spiral stair venue stand vacant. It was also sad to see that my favorite club of years past, Richies in Fuxing Park, has been replaced by an office.

a building with a sign and a railing
Closed.
  • Le Baron: I heard this is a Chinese style club. But when I went to it, I was told it was list only.

Same Same, Not Different

  • Bar Rouge: The rooftop bar and club on The Bund is still there. It provides great views of Pudong (see World’s Greatest Skyline: The Best Views of Shanghai) but is still too pretentious for my taste.a group of people standing on a rooftop with a city skyline in the background
  • M1NT: My goal when I left Shanghai in 2010 was to return to Shanghai as an expat. It was supposed to happen in 2012 when I started working at General Motors. Five months later I was fired, so that did not go as planned (buy my book, Everyone’s Advice Is Wrong . . . Including Mine, for those details). Nine years later, I returned to M1NT, ready to cash out on my overdue dream. Somewhere along the way I got old (see Without Technology TPOL’s the Creepy Old Guy in Shanghai) and found myself with no desire to pop bottles. I also was put off by stories that the sharks at M1NT were dying prematurely as a result of the bass. Concession protocol notwithstanding, M1NT is still a must-go while in Shanghai, but like Bar Rouge it has a crowd that is more obsessed with image than fun.sharks swimming in a tank a long tunnel with fish tanks and blue lights
  • La Social vs Revolucion Cocktail: I wasn’t a big fan of reggaeton before moving to Puerto Rico. It was only after hearing it abroad that I started to like it. Two places that play reggaeton and have Latin night are La Social and Revolucion. The former is way too crowded and is more of a bar than a club. The latter became my go-to place. There’s plenty of energy, great music, and awesome drinks. I purchased the camera cup that my drink came in for when I drink rum at home.a group of people standing outside a building
    a red light in a dark room
    Revolucion DJ.
    a group of people at a bar
    Revolucion is the best.

    a couple of camera lenses
    Souvenirs
  • Owner Circle: If it’s Monday and you are an alcoholic or disco diva, go to Owner Circle. It’s a decent club with good hip-hop.a building with a glass wall and a sign a urinal in a bathroom
  • ASL: ASL is a mini M1NT. I went there for ‘model’s night’. For those that aren’t familiar, clubs in China hire western people, generously called models, to come to their club and party. They are given free drinks and are supposed to contribute to the ambiance of the club. There are many attractive looking people in the group, but there are many who are hired simply because they are foreigners.
    • TPOL’s TIP: Asking them if they are hired because they are western and not because they are especially attractive will not result in new friends. Like Bar Rouge and M1NT, ASL’s patrons are more interested in themselves than getting hype.a neon sign with text and a heart a table with drinks and glasses on it
  • 83BANDS: This place is awful. What kind of club has carpet? I didn’t like it but many people swear by it.
  • Up: This is a rooftop bar. I didn’t go in because there was a cover, something that no one should pay anywhere, let alone Shanghai. I only include it in the list because right around the corner is the best beer store. I neglected to take a picture of the place and cannot tell you the name. However, I do have the GPS coordinates. a blue and white rectangular object with numbers

    a shelf with bottles of alcohol
    Could stay here all night.
  • Flair Rooftop at the Ritz Carlton: Come for a view of the Bund. Leave before spending 100RMB on drink after drink. Leave before you’re stuck in Pudong at night as taxis, even DiDis are hard to come by. a tall tower with a round tower in the middle of a city

Bars

Sometimes you don’t want a club. Sometimes you want a drink. Here are my suggestions:

  • Best Dive Bar: Windows
    • Windows is still open in two locations but Windows Too Jing’an is closed. That was my favorite.a sign on a building
  • Sunday Funday: 
  • Great Happy Hour: Barbarossa
    • Barbarossa is good for happy hour. It’s Moroccan themed and popular among expats.a building with a tower and a pond with lily pads a bar with pink lamps
  • Perfect Mixologist: Sober Society
    • If you’re tired of slamming vodka sodas head to Sober Society. There are all sorts of crazy cocktails there. a neon sign with a glass of wineIt has an interesting ambiance. a dark hallway with urinalsI had to try the champagne piña coladas to see if it would make the Top Piña Coladas on Earth. It was a novel idea but it flopped on flavor and on price. For $25, I expected more.a menu with black text a man pouring a drink into a glass There are drinks based on the zodiac sign. a menu with black text a menu on a tableThe rabbit, aka the bloody mary, was so good. I could drink a dozen. a glass with a drink and a cracker on topa glass with a drink and ice cube in itThe most novel was the ox. Look at the presentation:a person sitting at a table with a leather shoe on it a glass of liquid on a tableAnother good one was the rooster which came with a miso egg. a glass with a drink in it
  • Upscale Perfection: Long Bar at the Waldorf Astoria
    • Long Bar: The nicest bar I have visited in Shanghai is the Long Bar at the Waldorf Astoria (see It’s an Institution Sir, for the full review). It’s a bit pricey but the live jazz and solid negroni were worth documenting.a bar with a person sitting at the bar a menu with text on it a group of bowls of food on a counter a glass of drink on a table

Overall

This list should keep you happy and tipsy. I will update it the next time I am in Shanghai.


Where to Drink Shanghai is part of the TPOL in Shanghai Trip Report.

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