Header image courtesy of The Union Trading Company (via Facebook)
One needn’t wait for Friday night to hit up the bars in Shanghai—the around-the-clock drinking scene is saturated with plenty of places to visit in the ever-changing city. Shanghai’s budding cocktail spots are also a winning feat, in a city where one can enjoy the best of everything. From sophisticated speakeasies to skyscraper gems, here are the best cocktail bars in Shanghai which are worth a try.
An intimate bar located on Huaihai Lu, Southern Cross can house up to eight patrons, and is set amidst a backdrop of illuminated whisky, rye, and bourbon bottles. Helmed by Bartender Keifer, who speaks fluent English, the hideout welcomes you with smooth jazz and quirky cocktails upon entering. The menu features a mix of classics and special cocktails, made and served by its expert staff. Take your date or business client here, and dress to impress—the drinks will be sure to do so.
Southern Cross, 1276 Huaihai Road, Huaihai Road West Section, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 5404 7211
Ranked amongst the World’s 50 Best Bars, Constellation is a small venue which attracts discerning whisky drinkers. With an incredible menu of over 1,500 spirit bottles, the bar also specialises in classic cocktails, some of which are whisky-based concoctions. As a pioneer on China’s cocktail bar scene, the venue attracts locals and visitors who know to appreciate Japanese-style bartending. Down a well-made classic at this sleek bar—it’ll be a night to remember.
Constellation, 86 Xinle Lu, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 5404 0970
Mardi Gras is said to be one of Shanghai’s best-kept secrets. The Japanese-inspired bar is housed in what appears to be a French restaurant, but on the second floor, its impressively-high ceilings and well-curated drinks bring the experience to new highs. Cocktails take a classic approach, using imported seasonal fruits to curate fruity concoctions. Special requests are also welcome.
Mardi Gras, No.1 Lane 372, Xingguo Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai 200052 China | (+86) 21 6280 7598
Tucked away in a nondescript spot, The Union Trading Company is quite the hidden gem. Located on a quiet corner in the Xuhui district, the bar features an extensive menu, comprising homemade-infused cocktails, modern and classic. Helmed by Chef Austin Hu (a celebrated chef) and Bartender Yao Hu (a cocktail champion), the bar is listed amidst Asia’s 50 Best Bars, and with its constantly-changing menu, drinks are fun and enchanting, each showcasing its own twist in flavour and presentation.
The Union Trading Company Bar, 64 Fenyang Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6418 3077
Head up to the rooftop of the Peninsula Hotel for unparalleled views of the skyline, and an expansive G&T cocktail menu. Guests can first choose their favourite gin, then pair it with a tonic of their choice, and finally the garnish. Expect the best of the best at this premium location, housed under one of the most luxury hotel groups in the world.
Sir Ellys, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 2327 6756
Formed in a partnership between Shanghai’s Shingo Gokan, and US mixologist Steve Schneider from Employees Only, The Odd Couple opened in March 2019, as an 1980’s-inspired retro space for cocktail enthusiasts. The cocktail menu is designed according to taste profiles, where Shingo makes its own interpretations. Expect a few twists on classic cocktails too—the truffle-scented espresso martini is a particular joy.
The Odd Couple, No. 25, Lane 181 Taicang Lu, near Xingye Lu, Shanghai, China | (+61) 6333 2363
Another bar opened by the same founder of Speak Low, Shingo Gokan, Sober Company is a multi-concept space, which houses a restaurant, café, and cocktail bar, for all occasions. At the cocktail bar, discerning drinkers are welcome to taste cocktail creations, including the unique Godfather III, a stiff drink made of Laphroaig 10 Years, hojicha, apricot brandy, bitters, and candied prosciutto.
Sober Company, 99 Yandang Road, Huangpu, Shanghai, China, 200000 | (+86) 21 5309 8261
Rounding it off with Shanghai’s oldest bar, YYs (Yin Yang) has been around for over two decades serving exclusive cocktails for discerning drinkers. Walls are decorated with old-school art and books, to give a nostalgic feeling upon entering. Waltz down the red-carpet stairs for a taste of glamour in the heart of Shanghai.
YYs (Yin Yang), No.125A Nanchang Road, near Maominnan Road 200020 Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6466 4098