el Coctel: Barcelona meets Tokyo in Shanghai

el Coctel: Barcelona meets Tokyo in Shanghai

The chef cool enough to join the ranks of the single named phenomena, Willy opens his new Japanese-style, Spanish cocktail bar in Shanghai
El Coctel
Featuring illustrations by Barcelona-based artist Veronica Ballart Lilja, el Coctel maintains the same great atmosphere as El Willy, with a few delicious drinks added to boot.

Since opening his eponymous tapas joint in the French Concession last year, chef Willy Trullas Moreno has quickly become a beloved addition to dining scene. The Barcelona native’s status as Shanghai’s culinary golden boy stems equal parts from the ambrosial bites he serves up at El Willy and the quirky, childlike persona of the man himself. (Check out Willy’s blog for a glimpse into his absurdist brand of awesome).

Now, Willy’s setting his sights on the nightlife arena, with his new lounge-bar el Coctel now in soft opening. Occupying prime real estate (above The Shelter) el Coctel looks to bring the Willy blend of quality and coziness to Shanghai’s drinking scene.

Filling the void

The pointedly dance floor-less space has no intention of stealing The Shelter’s thunder. “We definitely don’t want it to become a club,” says Willy. “I came up with this project because I wanted a place where I could hang out after work. Shanghai has some bars I like, but whether it’s the crowds or the type of music, something is always not quite right.”

“We’ll be producing most of our own ice, which will initially be negative 24 to 25 degrees. By the time the drink is made and served the ice should be between negative four and five degrees."

In conceptualizing el Coctel, “I thought of the local places back home in Barcelona where my friends and I love to go.” The mix of jazz, Latin and low-key electro music will be played at conversation-friendly volumes, and edibles will be imported from Spain -- think Jamón Ibérico and preserved clams and oysters.

A global mix

While Willy has Spain on the brain, General Manager Marty Campaign is looking to bring a little bit of Japan’s cocktail culture to Shanghai. In August, Campaign and willy went on a fact-finding mission to Tokyo’s Ginza district to stock up on specialty utensils and learn all they could in the nucleus of the global “Cocktail Renaissance.”

The Japanese cocktail method treats bartending as an art form, using top-shelf liquors, freshly-squeezed juices and hand-cut ice. With seating for just 77, split between two rooms, el Cóctel’s bartenders will be focusing on craftsmanship not volume, putting TLC into each drink they make instead of churning out G&T’s at breakneck pace. El CoctelWilly (left) and Marty (right) get ready for El Coctel's December opening.

Campaign, formerly of the Glamour Bar, is a stickler for details, right down to the temperature at which drinks should be served: “We’ll be producing most of our own ice, which will initially be negative 24 to 25 degrees. By the time the drink is made and served the ice should be between negative four and five degrees. If you’re drinking at a responsible pace, this is the temperature where your drink will stay cool and won’t get watered down by melting ice.”

As for the decor, “it’s all been put through the Willy-filter,” says Campaign with a chuckle. Patrons of El Willy know what that means: warm coral and carrot tones, and vibrant water-colors from Barcelona-based artist Veronica Ballart Lilja, including a wall-to-wall fresco on the ceiling.

One last note to head offany confusion for non-Spanish speakers: it’s pronounced like “el cock-tell.” And it means something too dirty to print. Just kidding; it means “the cocktail.”

Getting there: el Coctel Unit 202, 2/F, 47 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu Hours: Monday to Saturday, 5pm-late www.elwilly.com.cn