A bar that doubles as a batting cage, a club operating out of a huge mansion in the suburbs, a convenience store that only sells craft beer: these jaunts may seem too unique to exist, but not in Shanghai
. A city whose history is rooted in nighttime bacchanalias
still delivers evening after evening – and sometimes into the early morning. Tired of the usual gin and tonic from the old prosaic bar down the street? Try these instead.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub
Botanist is an upscale cocktail bar where talented mixologists rustle up creative concoctions using fresh herbs and flowers like lemongrass, jasmine, and mint. The cocktails aren’t cheap, but the flavors justify the prices. Serving the drinks out of light bulbs, flower pots, and a variety of other atypical vessels may seem like a gimmick, but it lends a playful element to a classy night. Start your evening here and you’re bound to have a memorable time.
No 2, 17 Xiangyang N. Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China, 200000
Creative cocktails at Botanist | © mint_durian/Dianping | © mint_durian/Dianping
What started as a convenience store specializing in craft beer has now become a favorite nighttime hang-out spot of expats and locals alike. A collection of over 200 imported craft bottles can be found on the first floor, while picnic table seating is spread across the second floor. The eponymous “Beer Lady” is middle-aged Chinese woman Mrs. Zhang, who has devoted her life to beer. She is passionate about what she does, and it shows in her smile and constant willingness to help even the pickiest beer drinker find something to enjoy.
455 Fahuazhen Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China, 200000
200 imported craft bottle varieties line the shelves at Beer Lady | ©且吃且增重/Dianping | ©且吃且增重/Dianping
Bar, Chinese, Pub Grub
Shanghai is saturated with “speakeasies”, making it hard to know which one to pick. Speak Low skips the usual schtick to deliver some of the best cocktails in the city, made by world-renowned mixologists. Accessed via a secret entrance, the enigmatic drinking den spans four floors, each with its own concept and level of exclusivity. As you might guess, the higher you go, the steeper the prices, and the harder it is to get in without a reservation.
579 Fuxing Middle Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China, 200000
Speak Low is accessed via a secret entrance | ©woshivida/Dianping | ©woshivida/Dianping
My Place Ruin Bar
My Place Ruin Bar
This under-the-radar dive bar has engendered strong loyalty from its customers, and it’s easy to see why. The atmosphere is fun, the staff are friendly, and the drinks are cheap. You can’t go without trying the bar’s signature tipple, the rocket-fuel Weng Weng, a Filipino drink made with six spirits – vodka, gin, rum, tequila, brandy, and Scotch whisky – mixed with grenadine, orange juice, and pineapple juice. To encourage people to try this blackout-inducer, the staff have created a scoreboard of countries, which get a point every time one of their citizens finishes a Weng Weng.
3/F, 1788 Xinzha Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai, China, 200042
My Place Ruin Bar: home to the infamous petrol-rocket Weng Weng | ©bhello/Dianping | ©bhello/Dianping
Bar, Restaurant, Austrian
Austrian restaurant by day; hip watering hole by night – Daliah may seem too zany to be approachable, but one trip down the indoor slide and you’ll feel at ease and ready for whatever the night throws at you. The bar is the brainchild of Austrian fashion icon and pioneer of alternative culture Daliah Spiegel, who, like the bar, is full of personality. It has become the home of several LGBT-friendly events and is renowned for its playful vibe and relaxed atmosphere.
408 Shaanxi N. Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai, China, 200040
An indoor slide whisks patrons into Daliah | ©Miss_amazing/Dianping | ©Miss_amazing/Dianping
The Mansion is not for the faint of heart. Quite literally a mansion-turned-nightclub, this buzzing jaunt attracts some of Shanghai’s most eccentric characters with its artsy vibes and throbbing techno, deep house, and hip hop tunes. The RMB100 ($15) entrance fee gets you four drink tickets, and if you assume that means the tipples are weak, think again. The backyard of the house has a pool and beach, where events are hosted in the warmer months. Think The Great Gatsby meets Trainspotting.
Dynasty Villa – B18, 851 Hongjing Rd, Hongqiao District, Shanghai, China, 201103
The Mansion, a buzzing mansion-turned-nightclub | © cincindianping/Dianping | © cincindianping/Dianping
Cages Bar and Sports
Cages Bar and Sports
Batting cages, squash courts, bubble soccer, dodgeball, professional darts: these are not words typically associated with a bar, yet Cages Bar and Sports has them all. Mixing alcohol and physical activity seems counter-intuitive but, gosh, is it fun. There are also TVs everywhere, broadcasting the latest games and matches, in case a typical sports bar is more your thing.
3/F, 428 Jiangning Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai, China, 200041
Mixing alcohol and physical activity at Cages | © 落泪的微笑/Dianping | ©落泪的微笑/Dianping
Daga Brewpub is one of the few places to specialize in craft beers from around China. There are beers from Chengdu, Nanjing, Beijing – you name it. Not all of the brews are great, but staff let you try before you buy, so you can always find something else you like. The space is large, but the vibe is laid-back, and the rooftop is one of the best in Shanghai.
100 Fuxing W. Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China, 200000