5 outstanding drinks from Shanghai's hotels

5 outstanding drinks from Shanghai's hotels

No matter how you swig, sip or guzzle, the city’s hotel bars still serve a mean drink and are a worthy nightlife choice not to be overlooked

Hotel bars. Although they get a bum rap, these high-end venues are redefining cocktail hours around the city, either putting their own spin on it, or creating old-time favorites while whipping up their own impressive in-house brews. 

These are not first choice for the bargain hunting crowd. But then again frequent drinkers learn to beware the suspiciously cheap price tags around the city, as it soon becomes obvious that you often get what you pay for. Or worse. 

JW Marriott ShanghaiThe JW Marriott serves up the classics.

The Martini, JW’s Lounge, JW Marriott Hotel, Tomorrow Square

The folks at JW prove that a martini isn’t just a martini, with the return of its much-missed martini and cocktail hour featuring an array of concoctions so varied that 007 himself might go a bit weak at the knees. "Using our special sugar syrup is just one of many ways we make our martinis unique," says former Bar Manager Steven Li, "not to mention we offer a wide range of choices in terms of flavor.”

The People’s Park views alone could inspire you, but just might get upstaged by an even more inspiring choice of organic tomatoes, liquors and level of spice to add to your mix; not to mention more than five kinds of Mediterranean imported olives on offer each evening for those dirty martini fans in the house. For non-olive fans (do you really exist?), the bar is happy to add a bit of sweetness to the mix, including a natural choice of blackened, orange rind. 

We say: Spoiled for choice we were, but in the end, our personal favorite was the traditional dirty dry martini a la Tanqueray 10 (upping the price tag a bit) topped with freshly imported Greek olives -- the perfect silky blend and worth every penny.

What it'll cost you: Standard martinis are RMB 70-98, plus 15 percent
JW’s Lounge, 40/F, JW Marriott Hotel, 399 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu 南京西路399号40楼, 近黄陂南路, +86 21 5359 4969 ext. 6864, www.jwmarriottshanghai.com5:30 p.m.-2:00 a.m.

Shangri-La PudongWalk on the semi-solid side with a Jelly Freeze.

Jelly Freeze, Jade on 36 Bar, Pudong Shangri-la

Going beyond the standard shaken and stirred varieties, Jade on 36 screams solid cocktails, views and jazz -- a sublimely lethal combination possibly leading to new levels of cocktail nirvana. Add to that a unique designer menu created by renowned mixologist, Thierry Hernandez featuring top ‘edible’ seller Jelly Freeze, and you're set. This jelled blend of velvety black vodka and Chambord served with a side of fresh berries or olives, is not only an obviously exotic take on cocktails, but packs quite the potent punch!

If vodka’s not your thing, other options include a chance to toast your favorite city with more Hernandez top sellers like a bitter lemon grass Los Angeles or sweet and sour and patriotic Beijing, to name a few. Plus an unforgettable apple mojito. 

“The bartenders put innovation into their creations," says David Wang, former Jade 36 bar manager. "While they master the classic, basic cocktails, they are also able to improvise and create each drink with passion, and learn from customers’ feedback. This is why we have a unique twist in something like our apple mojito.” ”

We say: Edible cocktails -- the Jelly Freeze is not to be underestimated -- should be enjoyed slowly as you take in the tunes. Also a very sexy date option for sharing.  

What it'll cost you: RMB 200 plus 15 percent
Jade on 36, 36/F, Pudong Shangri-La, 33 Fucheng Lu, near Lujiazui Lu 富城路33号浦东香格里拉大酒店2座36楼, 近陆家嘴西路, +86 21 6882 3636, www.shangri-la.com5:00 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

Sky Dome Bar ShanghaiSam Xie serves up cocktails at Sky Dome Bar.

The Lounge, Sky Dome Bar, Radisson Hotel Shanghai New World

This funky spaceship peak towering 47 floors over People’s Square is more than just a landmark, but a combination of revolving restaurant (Epicure on 45) and home to the Sky Dome Bar. Yet another reason to have drinks in the sky, this is a unique aesthetic experience to say the least. 

With warmer temps finally here, Bartender Sam Xie serves up summertime favorite The Lounge -- a refreshing mix featuring sliced and diced fresh kiwi and watermelon, rum and melon liquor topped with a dash of bubbles.

“The Lounge has always been a summer time favorite but hands down the biggest seller is none other than our own Sky Dome Bar version of the Singapore Sling made with bitters and Benedictine Dom,” says Xie.

We say: Although more of a girlie favorite (and a few select gentlemen secure in their masculinity) The Lounge is a definite fix for those hot and humid summer months ahead. And a quick note: when descending into the restaurant (en route to the main elevator) from the bar, you actually may not have overdone it with the drinks because yes, the restaurant is indeed moving.

What it'll cost you: RMB 70 plus 15 percent

Sky Dome Bar , 47/F, Radisson Hotel Shanghai New World, 88 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Xizang Lu 南京西路88号上海海新世界丽笙大酒店47楼, 近西藏路, +86 21 6359 9999 ext. 4200, www.radisson.com10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

St Regis hotel ShanghaiThe Shanghai D’: Bloody Mary Sichuan-style

The Shanghai D’ (Bloody Mary), Mezzanine Lounge, The St. Regis Hotel

Sometimes the classics are just that and what better place to imbibe in a piece of history than a paragon of class itself -- the St Regis Hotel. 

News to most, the now world-famous Bloody Mary concoction hails directly from the St Regis, New York. Invented by bartender Fernand Petiot in 1934, this spicy mix was first known as the Red Snapper and soon became all the rage at cocktail hours the world over. 

Those keen to stretch their palate can enjoy a special hometown version at each and every St Regis worldwide where local tastes are added to the mix. Shanghai dwellers can imbibe in a fiery sweet and sour Shanghai D' with a dash of soy sauce and pinches of Sichuan pepper.

We say: Already BM fans, we thought it wouldn’t take much to impress us, but impressed we were realizing that perhaps we hadn’t had a proper serve till now. Spicy lovers, definitely go for the Shanghai D’. And for those a bit hesitant, the cooling foam is always a tasty safety option. 

What it'll cost you: RMB 100 plus 15 percent

The Mezzanine Lounge, 2/F, St. Regis Hotel, 889 Dongfang Lu, near Weifang Lu 东方路889号上海瑞吉红塔大酒店2楼, 近潍坊路, +86 21 5050 4567 ext. 6300, www.stregis.com/shanghaicn

The Pulitini, ShanghaiThe Pulitini: Caffeine with a kick

The Pulitini, Long Bar, The Puli Hotel and Spa

The bar itself has an intoxicating calm about it so while there, sit back, soak in the aesthetics and treat yourself to some amazing mixes (not to mention free WiFi and a flip-through or two, compliments of their in-house library). Another seemingly innocent mix shaken with vodka, kahlua and espresso, the Pulitini is sure to leave most coffee fans in a fit of purrs… and perhaps (if overdone) a slight sway in their step on the way out. 

For those who like to keep their coffee at the café, a spicy but not too lethal favorite, Sichuan Spice comes nicely balanced with lime, mint and cucumber, not to mention one mean Mojito serve.

“Just like our 32 meter Long Bar, there are no boundaries set for our signature cocktails and one never quite knows what to expect when they order a Pulitini or Sichuan Spice,” says director of food & beverage Christopher Young. 

We say: The Pulitini is the perfect early evening cocktail to give you both that jolt and extra buzz for the trouble you’ve yet to get into. A dressed up iced coffee this is not.

What it'll cost you: RMB 100 plus 15 percent

The Long Bar at the Puli, 1 Changde Lu, near Yan'an Zhong Lu 常德路1号, 近延安中路, +86 21 3203 9999, www.thepuli.com7:00 a.m.-00:30 a.m.

Stephanie Thomas is a freelance writer of all trades based in Shanghai.
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