5 sublime cocktails you can get only in Shanghai

5 sublime cocktails you can get only in Shanghai

Shanghai barkeeps share their secret recipes for truly unique local cocktails

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

Shanghai cocktails -- alchemistAlchemist's cappuccino-look-alike cocktail is for anyone who fancies tea in a bar.

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.

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's 5 most interesting new drinks

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

Shanghai cocktails -- KakaduThai-inspired martini mixed by a Filipino barman in an Australian restaurant/bar for sophisticated Shanghai drinkers.

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.

More on CNNGo: Shanghai cocktail chain

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

Shanghai cocktails -- CvrveCVRVE's Cross Yu serves up the pinnacle of Shanghai's cocktail experience.

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.

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's 6 best new cocktail bars

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

Shanghai cocktails -- monkeyDon't let her innocent looks deceive you. This fairy ain't so sweet and she packs quite a punch.

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.

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's stone-cold sober whisky tour

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

Shanghai cocktails -- ApothecaryA flavorful cocktail for Sichuan pepper fans.

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.

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's 15 best al fresco drinking spots

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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Edward Falzon is a Shanghai-based author, religious scholar and anti-theist.

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