5 Shanghai hot shots

5 Shanghai hot shots

Warm drinks guaranteed to pick you up when the mercury falls

Hot yoga, sauna sessions, fuzzy fashion and a fabric market overcoat are time-tested ways to fight Shanghai’s damp winter chill.

“Scientific” research claims that the warming effects of alcohol are illusory and the legendary St. Bernard dog bringing brandy to stranded Alpine skiers was a misguided enabler.

But, local denizens know there’s only one sure way to warm up from the inside, and the following watering holes will make certain you get the better of Mr Frost this season.

Hot Buttered Rum

Warm Shanghai cocktails - Mardi GrasWhere: Mardi Gras
Price: RMB 70

What you're drinking: Dark rum, New Zealand butter, sugar and hot water.

Within the confines of Mardi Gras’ cozy wood-paneled upstairs lounge, bartender Enid Gao (filling in for mixologist-cum-surf guru Kurihara) delivers a spot-on version of this WASP-y classic.

The melting butter softens the blow of Captain Morgan’s punch to ensure patrons are well fortified before facing Shanghai’s miserable winter.

“A lot of people get ill this time of year. This is the best drink to make them feel better and fight off the cold,” says Gao. Also a very nice drink for the hale, hearty and healthy, too.
Mardi Gras, 372 Xingguo Lu, near Tai’an Lu 兴国路372弄1号, 近泰安路, +86 21 6280 7598

German Gluehwein

Warm Shanghai cocktails - Cotton'sWhere: Cotton’s
Price: RMB 50 (RMB 30 on Mondays after 8 p.m.)

What you're drinking: Red wine, cloves, cinnamon and a “mystery shot.”

Perhaps the best venue to enjoy a warm beverage, Cotton’s fireplace gives the place a ski lodge vibe. The secret “mystery shot” provides much needed heat to this Teutonic winter evergreen.

The bar has a large selection of board games -- this mulled wine is the perfect complement to those long games of Risk.

Cotton's, 132 Anting Lu, near Jiangguo Xi Lu 安亭路132号, 近建国西路 +86 21 6433 7995

Common Cure

Warm Shanghai cocktails - AlchemistWhere: Alchemist Cocktail Lounge
Price: RMB 70

What you're drinking: Tobacco-infused whiskey, honey, lime juice and chamomile froth.

Barkeep Ryan Noreiks’ molecular know-how extends beyond the floating fogs of his interpretation of the Long Island Iced Tea to include this seasonal heater.

The Cuban cigar tobacco-infused Johnny Walker Black Label in this drink is sure to clear the stuffiest of sinuses, and is conveniently served in a paper to-go cup as a vital outdoor accessory along with scarf and gloves.

Echoing his colleagues, Noreiks acknowledges the onset of flu season, claiming “we’re doing our part to find a cure.”

Not content to dwell in winter doldrums, he’s already planning a special Pimm’s cup with floating cucumber foam at the first sign of spring.

Alchemist, Sinan Mansions, Block 32 45 Sinan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 思南路45号32楼, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6426 0660

Irish coffee

Warm Shanghai cocktails - The ChaletWhere: The Chalet
Price: RMB 40

What you're drinking: Hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and cream.

Given the establishment’s name, it’s only fitting that Denis Ni’s bar serves an entire menu of cold weather relief.

This straightforward Irish Coffee provides a nice jolt for those not willing to hibernate through the upcoming months. But there’s no rush once comfortably settled in this low-key lounge.

Dip into The Chalet's fabulously gooey cheese fondue (RMB 120 serves two; RMB 200 serves four) while taking in a flick during their Sunday afternoon movie sessions starting at 3:30 p.m.

The Chalet, 385 Yongjia Lu, near Taiyuan Lu 永嘉路385号, 近太原路, +86 21 3401 0958

Hot rum

Warm Shanghai cocktails - Constellation 2Where: Constellation 2
Price: RMB 60

What you're drinking: Myers dark rum, lemon juice, honey, clove and cinnamon stick.

No surprise that Shanghai’s top bar served the best warmer of the bunch.

Bartender Andy Liu says that “in winter, so many people come in here wanting warm drinks” and he's happy to deliver his prescription to cure the winter cold.

Perfectly balanced, the lemon juice cuts through the honey to counter the sweetness that befouls so many seasonally festive cocktails.

Sidle up to the bar, take two and call us in the morning.

Constellation 2, 33 Yongjia Lu, near Maoming Nan Lu 永嘉路33号, 近茂名南路, +86 21 5465 5993

John Coughlan is a California native, Irish national, and longtime resident of Shanghai’s former French Concession.

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