Shanghai's 15 best al fresco drinking spots

Shanghai's 15 best al fresco drinking spots

The five minutes of lovely weather allocated to Shanghai every spring has arrived, so don't delay and get yourself to one of these gardens, terraces and rooftops for a tipple, before it's too late

1. Cotton's (Anting Lu)

Shanghai al fresco bars -- cotton'sAnother benefit of Cotton's garden? It's one of the few dog-friendly bars around.Since 2005, Hunanese native Cotton Ding has been cultivating the reputation of her namesake bar in Anting Lu as one of the city's most chilled-out places to get your drink. This perennial Shanghai favorite is particularly popular when the sun comes out and the leafy garden terrace comes into its own.

Al fresco fact: The expansive outdoor terrace at Cotton's in Anting Lu once formed the gardens of a colonial mansion that housed the Mayor of Shanghai.

Drink: At Cotton's extended weekday happy hours, the convivial ambiance becomes even more friendly. Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday drinks are buy-one-get-one free.

Cotton's, 132 Anting Lu, near Jianguo Xi Lu 安亭路132号, 近建国路, +86 21 6433 7995, www.cottons-shanghai.com

2. Swatch Art Peace Hotel Terrace

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Swatch Art Peace Hotel Sit and sip from a sliver of Shanghai history, while looking across the water to the modern Shanghai skyline.This terrace, on the seventh floor of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, is so new it's not even open yet. CNNGo got a sneak peak of this soon-to-be Bund hotspot, which opens in June atop the Bund's latest chic, colonial heritage hotel.

As it's located next door to Bund 18 on the corner of Nanjing Lu, it's fair to say that this terrace will probably have a pretty similar view to that of Bar Rouge -- minus the thumping techno.

Al fresco fact: Up to 120 people will be able to enjoy the uninterrupted views of Pudong at any one time.

Drink: A Flaming Shook!tini (RMB 75) that's Tanqueray gin, Campari, Cointreau, Sweet Vermouth and orange juice, garnished with an orange twist

Swatch Art Peace Hotel Terrace, 7/F, The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, 23 Nanjing Dong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu 南京东路23号7楼, 近中山东一路, +86 21 5866 6428

3. El Willy

Shanghai al fresco bars -- El WillyOne of the best gardens in Shanghai to take you from dinner to late-night drinks without you ever leaving the table. Guillermo "Willy" Trullas Moreno's signature tapas are the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon or evening of wine and cocktails and his Siesta Garden is one of Shanghai's nicest outdoor areas in which to indulge your appetite for the finer things in life.

The garden space -- and Willy himself -- attract a fun crowd of drinkers and diners most nights of the week.

Al fresco fact: The 50-seat Siesta Garden stays buzzing until late into the evening, so no need to plan post-dinner drinks. 

Drink: Try the margaritas for an after-work pick-me-up or a Bloody Mary if you're feeling seedy on a sunny Saturday afternoon (drinks are priced between RMB 50 and 70).

El Willy, 20 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu 东湖路20号, 近淮海路, +86 21 5404 5757, www.elwilly.com.cn

4. Sir Elly's Terrace, Peninsula Hotel

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Sir Elly'sWith a view this good, you might decide to order your dinner from Sir Elly's to go -- and take it upstairs.Sir Elly's is the luxe fine-dining venue of the Peninsula Hotel overlooking the Pudong skyline from the 13th floor, and one floor up, you'll find Sir Elly's Terrace, which serves a sophisticated range of cocktails, with summer-time specials on "tropical" cocktails, starting from June 1.

Al fresco fact: This expansive terrace on the 14th floor of the Peninsula Hotel can hold up to 500 cocktail-swilling patrons.

Drink: Sir Elly's signature drink is the eponymous Sir Elly's (RMB 90, plus 15 percent), a vodka-based cocktail with orange liquor, vanilla liquor and cranberry juice.

Sir Elly's Terrace, 14/F, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu 中山东一路32号13楼, 近北京东路, +86 21 2327 6756, www.peninsula.com

5. Yongfoo Elite

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Yongfoo EliteCocktails in Shanghai Yongfoo Elite's garden is a warm weather pleasure and a well-kept secret of locals in the know.Yongfoo Elite embodies the Shanghai folklore of East-meets-West decadence.

Mahogany paneling, crystal chandeliers, koi fish winding their way through a pond, Buddha statues, Chinese lanterns, antiques and designer furniture: Yongfoo Elite is not one for what you would call a subtle decor.

For nature lovers, there are more shades of green in this garden than in the rest of the city combined, and the regular live performances of Beijing opera only add to the opium-dream feel.

Al fresco fact: The 2,500-square-meter garden plays host to several bar areas, some open to the public and other strictly reserved for members and high-rollers.

Drink: Celebrate lounging on a canopy bed in the grounds of the former British Consulate with a gin and tonic (RMB 80).

Youngfoo Elite, 200 Yongfu Lu, near Hunan Lu 永福路200号, 近湖南路, +86 21 5466 2727, www.yongfooelite.com

6. The Fat Olive (Xizang Lu)

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Fat OilveWith almost all of its seating located outdoors, Fat Olive's al fresco space (and wine list) are hard to beat.White couches abound aboard the good ship Fat Olive, and the views of Shanghai's old city and the Pudong skyline are reasons enough to give it a try. The selection of wines by the glass from RMB 34 and Greek-style snacks (RMB 25-40) are just the icing on the cake.

Al fresco facts: The sixth-floor space is about 70 percent rooftop patio making it an ideal place to while away the warm nights in a casual, totally anti-club atmosphere.

Drink: Every Friday from 6 p.m. Bollinger Champagne is RMB 100 a glass and RMB 700 per bottle -- not a bad way to finish off the work week.

The Fat Olive, 6/F, Silver Court Complex, 228 Xizang Nan Lu, near Huaihai Lu 西藏南路228号6楼, 近淮海路, +86 21 6334 3288, www.thefatolive.com

7. Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar

Shanghai al fresco bars -- FlairJust look at this photo: there's a reason Flair won the CNNGo Shanghai Best Eats awards for best unique view.A very “special occasion” option for al fresco drinking, Flair's split-level outdoor terrace offers Shanghai's most breathtaking view to drink by. But spaces like this don't come cheap. There is a minimum charge of RMB 350 per person for outdoor tables, and because it's part of a hotel, don't forget to factor in the 15 percent surcharge on everything.

Al fresco fact: Located on the 58th floor of the new Ritz-Carlton in Pudong, this is the highest outdoor restaurant and bar in Shanghai, and the best place to feel as though you can reach out and touch the pink-jeweled pearls of Lujiazui's iconic Pearl Tower.

Drink: For something different, try the Flair Experience, made with mango puree and whiskey. It's like drinking a a smoothie for grown-ups (RMB 90, plus 15 percent).

Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, 58/F, Shanghai IFC, 8 Century Dadao, near Lujiazui Huan Lu 世纪大道8号上海国金中心, 近陆家嘴环路, +86 21 2020 1717, www.ritzcarlton.com/shanghaipudong

8. The Apartment

Shanghai al fresco bars -- The apartmentBy day, The Apartment has one of Shanghai's nicer roof-top gardens. By night, it's where the city's glitterati come out to play.Nestled atop the leaves of the former French Concession, The Apartment's rooftop bar has cultivated a reputation as the place where Shanghai's beautiful people come out to play.

Come for happy hour and watch the sun set over the colonial architecture of old Shanghai, before the modern beats of the house DJ wakes you from your reverie and bring you right back to 2011.

Al fresco fact: The rooftop terrace at The Apartment seats 75 people and is home to a small bar and an itsy-bitsy pizza kitchen.

Drink: During the weekday happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., all standard drinks are two-for-one. Normally, you can get cocktails from RMB 50 and a pint of San Miguel on tap for RMB 45.

The Apartment, 3/F, 47 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu 永福路47号3楼, 近复兴西路, +86 21 6437 9478, www.theapartment-shanghai.com

9. Bar 12.21, Morton's Shanghai

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Morton'sSteak, drinks and views -- Morton's has just about everything covered.Morton’s has long list of creative cocktails highlighting top-shelf spirits and strong pours, and they are crafted with care (Shanghai bartenders, please take note). Their glass-encased cellar also stocks more than 250 labels and a special Bar Bites menu offers tasty, bite-sized options, including three miniature crab cakes, chicken goujonettes and blue cheese steak fries.

Al fresco fact: Morton's fourth-floor terrace, which accommodates 40 people, is already open for business, but soon, it will be dwarfed by the 680-square-meter rooftop space set to open in June, 2011.

Drink: From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, Bar 12.21 offers five of their most popular cocktails (normally priced from RMB 88-108) for only RMB 38, accompanied by a complimentary free-flow petite filet mignon steak sandwiches. This is one of Shanghai's best deals.

Bar 12.21, Morton's, 4/F, ifc Mall, 8 Century Avenue, near Lujiazui Huan Lu 世纪大道8号, 国金中心IFC商场4楼, 近陆家嘴环路, +86 21 6075 8888, www.mortons.com/shanghai

10. The Roof, Waterhouse

Shanghai al fresco bars -- The Roof - WaterhouseAlthough the South Bund is a haul, this view -- and the Waterhouse cocktail list -- are well worth the effort. Later, stop by the adjacent South Bund beach, drink in hand. We won't tell. This rooftop cocktail bar, set atop a boutique hotel, offers a great view of the Huangpu River from the South Bund, and serves up creative concoctions and a variety of appetizers to a select clientele. Expect a mix of trendy locals, expats and tourists.

Al fresco fact: Along with the rather impressive views, The Roof also has its own herb garden which provide fresh cocktail ingredients.

Drink: A Dirty Lychee Martini (RMB 70) with fresh lychee, raspberry vodka, lychee liqueur and lychee juice is one of the city's sweetest signature drinks.

The Roof, 5/F, Waterhouse, 1-3 Maojiayuan Lu, near Zhongshan Nan Lu 毛家园路1号, 邮政编码, 近中山南路 +86 21 6080 2928, www.waterhouseshanghai.com

11. Park Tavern

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Park TavernPark Tavern's first-floor garden is one of the best places in Shanghai to watch sports, which are projected on a jumbo screen for all to see. Located across the road from Xujiahui Park, this British-style pub is housed in a historic villa and is a big hit with sports fans, as well as those who love the combination of pints and fish and chips in a garden setting.

Al fresco facts: This is hands-down the nicest garden in which to watch sports in Shanghai.

Drink: A pint of strongbow cider (RMB 60) is the most refreshing way to enjoy The Park Tavern's formidable terrace.

Park Tavern, 840 Hengshan Lu, near Tianping Lu 衡山路840号, 近天平路, +86 21 5465 9312

12. Café Sambal, Jiashan Market

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Cafe SambaCafé Sambal shows punters how to match mojitos with French Concession ambiance. This mid-range Malaysian cafe is a great reason to make the trek to Jiashan Market, not least for a couple of cocktails among the tree tops of the former French Concession. The food is great as well, with the gado-gado and fried four-sided bean with cashew nut sauce proving particularly good accompaniments to the mojitos.

Al fresco fact: The spacious outdoor terrace on the second floor and rooftop garden accommodates 80 people.

Drink: Asked about his signature drink was, the barman replied with a resounding “Mojito!” And after trying a couple of Café Sambal's mojitos (RMB 55), we aren't going to argue.

Café Sambal, Bldg A, No. 37, Lane 550 Shaanxi Nan Lu, near Shaoxing Lu 陕西南路550弄37号A楼嘉善市场, 近绍兴路, +86 21 3368 9529, www.cafesambal.com

13. The Roof

Shanghai al fresco bars -- The RoofThe name "The Roof" says it all. Here we have another venue called "The Roof," which gives visitors to this Taiwanese-run cocktail bar an idea of this venue's most attractive feature. Not that the lovely terrace is the only thing this place has going for it -- the drinks are consistently sophisticated and well-crafted and the service is among the most friendly and attentive in town.

Al fresco fact: The Roof's large terrace takes up nearly 60 per cent of the venue’s total area and overlooks the courtyard below.

Drink: Opt for the The Roof Iced Tea (RMB 88) if you are looking for some extra kick.

The Roof, 4/F, Bldg 5, Surpass Court, 570 Yongjia Lu, near Yueyang Lu 永嘉路570弄5号4楼, 近岳阳路, +86 21 6073 7628

14. Strip on 6th

Shanghai al fresco bars -- StripStrip's bar reigns supreme on Huaihai Zhong Lu.Hidden away on the Ascott Residence’s sixth floor in the north tower of the revamped Hong Kong Plaza is Strip on 6th.

The lounge and terrace is the lower half of the Strip Prime Steakhouse, and features one of the best terrace spaces in Shanghai (hence the reason it's on this list).

Come for the view, but stay for the thoughtful cocktail menu and the unbelievable Skinny Frites, with truffle oil and sea salt (RMB 48).

Al fresco fact: This 550-square-meter terrace offers 270-degree panoramic views of Huaihai Lu, People's Square and the Nanjing Lu Skyline.

Drink: For a true taste of summer in Shanghai, try the signature Shanghaipolitan, with Ketel One vodka, Belevedere Citrus, Grand Marnier, cranberry, fresh lime and pineapple (RMB 75). Classic cocktails are RMB 50 during the weekday happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Strip on 6th, 6/F, Hong Kong Plaza, 282 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Songshan Lu 香港广场6楼, 淮海中路282号, 近嵩山路, +86 21 6091 9893, www.thestripshanghai.com

15. Bar Rouge

Shanghai al fresco bars -- Bar RougeThe Bar Rouge terrace is one of the reasons this club has become -- for better or worse -- a Shanghai institution.Early in the evening, the terrace at Bar Rouge is populated with tourists, nearby office workers looking for an after-work drink and upper-crust locals taking in the view of the Lujiazui, along with a pre-dinner drink before heading out to one of the strip's many restaurants.

After 9 p.m., the terrace brings respite from the dance floor for the party animals who pack out this Bund institution night after night.

Al fresco fact: To put it in the simplest possible terms, the Sky Lounge at Bar Rouge is a big part of why this Bund-side bar is Shanghai's most famous nightlife institution.

Drink: Drinking at Bar Rouge conjures up two words: "Moët"' and "Chandon." A bottle of the Imperial Champagne will set you back RMB 980. The signature cocktail, appropriately named Bar Rouge, with vodka, Grand Marnier, raspberry and cranberry (RMB 80) is also a good choice.

Bar Rouge, 7/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu 中山东一路18号外滩18号7楼, 近南京东路, +86 21 6339 1199, www.bar-rouge-shanghai.com

Casey is a city/lifestyle journalist from Melbourne, Australia, who has been based in Shanghai since 2007.

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