5 sublime cocktails you can get only in Shanghai
By all means, buy yourself a martini. Or a rum and cola. Or a daiquiri.
But when you're over the regular, the mundane, the passé, open your mind to these imaginative variations and new mixes to be drunk only in these five Shanghai bars.
They are presented here -- in no particular order -- and are all equally worthy of your time.
And introduce yourself to the mixologists -- they won't bite, unless you ask nicely.
1. Sunrise in December, Alchemist
Price: RMB 78
This is a rare occurrence of bespoke infusion; bartender Chloe You offers you a selection of tea from Taylors of Harrogate and infuses them into Tanqueray gin while you wait.
You then makes up a White Lady-inspired foam with gin, triple sec, egg white, lemon juice and cinnamon syrup, followed by a base of peach brandy, lemon and sugar, to which your customized tea-gin is added.
Uniquely, the cocktail is served in a tea cup, with the foam carefully spooned on top, making the final product look deceptively like a cappuccino.
They even add a shortbread cookie for the full effect.
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Alchemist, Sinan Mansions, Block 32, 45 Sinan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 思南路45号32楼, 近复兴中路, 6 p.m.-2 a.m., +86 21 6426 0660, www.alchemistbar.cn
2. Thaitini, Kakadu
Price: RMB 55
This is a creative add-on to Kakadu's signature cocktail, the Myrtle Martini.
In both, leaves from the Australian myrtle tree are imported and infused with Kiss vodka, giving it a strong, bush-lemon flavor.
Filipino barman Jeremy Majsanoc explains how he makes the perfect Thaitini.
“To the myrtle-infused vodka, we add Malibu, lychee liqueur, lemon juice, some muddled coriander and ginger. A whole lychee rests at the bottom of the martini glass.”
Well-named, this is a genuine taste of Thailand from an otherwise authentic Aussie bar.
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Kakadu, Bridge 8, 8 Jianguo Zhong Lu,near Chongqing Nan Lu 建国中路8号, 近重庆南路, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., +86 21 5468 0118, www.kakadushanghai.com
3. Flaming Orange, CVRVE
Price: RMB 120
This is a new take on an Old Fashioned, with 12-year-old Blanton's single-barrel bourbon, Grand Marnier, Aperol, muddled orange, fresh lemon juice and a dash of ginger beer, served over a large block of "stone ice."
“I add a garnish of scorched orange peel to bring out the oils and give it a hint of a smoky flavor,” says Shanghai-native Cross Yu, who calls himself the "main guy behind the bar" at CVRVE.
“This one's a personal favourite of mine, since I prefer fruity, citrus cocktails. I'd also use this cocktail to get a girl to start trying whiskey.”
At RMB 120, it's the most expensive of our list, but well worth the experience.
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CVRVE, No. 206 Shanghai Center, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Tongren Lu 南京西路1376号上海商城206室, 近铜仁路, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. (Sunday - Thursday), 11 a.m.-3 a.m. (Friday and Saturday), +86 21 6289 8298, www.CVRVE.com
4. White Fairy II, Monkey Lounge
Price: RMB 70
A direct but barely recognizable descendent of the 1920s’ White Fairy, this unpretentious cocktail contains Bombay gin, fresh lime juice, sugar cane syrup, heavy cream, orange bitters and egg white, shaken into a creamy foam with a final sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg.
Monkey’s Filipino mixologist Aldrine Bae says this is one of their most popular drinks.
“It's texture is appealing, particularly to women, and it's not too sweet,” notes 30-year-old Bae.
In fact, it's barely sweet at all, and that's why it gets our thumbs-up; few cocktails have the guts to add cream without also adding copious amounts of sugar.
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Monkey Lounge, No. 22, Lane 56 Donghu Lu, near Xinle Lu 东湖路56弄22号, 近新乐路, 8 p.m.-1 a.m., +86 21 5403 8906
5. Bell pepper tequila sour, Apothecary
Price: RMB 75
Apothecary’s head bar manager Neal Shen explains this complex potion, which takes flavor-infusion to a new level.
“We use El Jimador Blanco, a 100 percent blue-agave tequila, infused with bell pepper flavor.”
Sugar cane syrup infused with black peppers is added, and even the bitters are infused with Sichuan peppercorns and kaffir lime.
With all that pepper, you can be forgiven for thinking that this would be a spicy cocktail, but don't sweat it; this is a flavorsome, drinkable cocktail that won't hurt even sensitive taste-buds.
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Apothecary, Sinan Mansions, Building 2, 4/F, Lane 507 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Chongqing Nan Lu 复兴中路507弄思南公馆2号楼4楼, 近重庆南路, 6 p.m.-midnight, +86 21 3368 9419
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