TPOL’s Guide to Libations in Shanghai

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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.

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 It was also sad to see that my favorite club of years past, Richies in Fuxing Park, has been replaced by an office.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Revolucion DJ.
    Revolucion is the best.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.

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.
  • Sunday Funday: 
  • Great Happy Hour: Barbarossa
    • Barbarossa is good for happy hour. It’s Moroccan themed and popular among expats.
  • Perfect Mixologist: Sober Society
    • If you’re tired of slamming vodka sodas head to Sober Society. There are all sorts of crazy cocktails there. It has an interesting ambiance. I 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. There are drinks based on the zodiac sign. The rabbit, aka the bloody mary, was so good. I could drink a dozen. The most novel was the ox. Look at the presentation: Another good one was the rooster which came with a miso egg.
  • 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.

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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