Your week-long guide to the best Shanghai happy hours
As summer sets in and drink specials abound, we’ve done the hard work for you and come up with an after work schedule so you can hit up some of the best deals in town.
Be it old or new, dive-y or classy, sports bar or hipster hangout, enjoy the best of Shanghai’s bar scene, one discounted drink at a time.
Deal: Buy-one-get-one-free drinks, Monday - Friday 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. at both locations.
Opened in 2003, Cotton’s is still going strong as one of Shanghai’s mainstays of the upscale bar scene. Good staff, tasty mixed drinks and a gorgeous, renovated French Concession space all make this a reliable option to start your week. Now that summer’s here, enjoy the outside bar and the bartenders’ crushed-ice mojitos.
Venue: Boxing Cat Brewery
Deal: Pitchers for RMB 75, and pints, wine and house pours for RMB 35 every day 3 p.m. - 8 p.m. at both locations.
The ultimate beer lover’s happy hour: brewed on-site, Boxing Cat’s long list of available microbrews frequently rotates. The change has been known to annoy some, but roll with it -- they're all good. For a malty pint, go for the Right Hook Helles. The Standing 8 Pilsner is deliciously hoppy. If it’s a buzz you’re after, check the board for the Big Boy Double IPA -- at 9.4 percent, it’s like drinking three Tsingtaos at once.
Boxing Cat Brewery, 82 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu 复兴西路82号 近永福路, +86 21 6431 2091; Bldg. 26A, Sinan Mansions, 519 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Chongqing Nan Lu 复兴中路519号, 思南公馆, 26A号楼, 近重庆南路, +86 21 6426 0360, www.boxingcatbrewery.com
Venue: Blue Frog
Deal: Buy-one-get-one-free drinks, every day 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. at all locations
Go for Monday’s buy-one-get-one-free burger deal and stay for the same on all drinks. With extremely attentive servers -- a rarity -- and a solid bar selection (nothing too fancy, but quality martinis and a menu of imported beer), secure a table early as all locations get packed early. Draft Tiger or Heineken go great with the enormous Montana burger.
Blue Frog, multiple locations, 207-6 Maoming Nan Lu, near Yongjia Lu 茂名南路207-6号, 近永嘉路, +86 21 6445 6634, www.bluefrog.com.cn
Venue: The Camel
Deal: Two-for-one Carlsberg pints and Smirnoff vodka mixers on Tuesdays from 8 p.m. until closing.
Watch a game -- any game -- on one of the almost a dozen flat-screen TVs or shoot pool or darts at this Aussie-run sports bar. Grab one of the high-top tables by 6 p.m. to do all three specials on Tuesday: get two fish and chips for the price of one at dinner, then pair that with a daily happy hour: RMB 25 VBs or Carlsbergs starting at 8 p.m.
The Camel, 1 Yueyang Lu, near Fenyang Lu 岳阳路1号, 近汾阳路, +86 21 6437 9446, www.camelsportsbar.com
Deal: Ladies’ Night. Tuesdays from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Ladies: come here if you like fruity vodka mixers and live music. For three hours every Tuesday, a "Kiss" vodka menu of eight martinis and two shots (go for the Kamikaze Kiss, made with raspberry liquor) is at your disposal. Popular with expats, Shanghai’s first Irish bar has a spacious front patio in which to relax as you enjoy your drinks.
O'Malley's, 42 Taojiang Lu, near Hengshan Lu 桃江路42号, 近衡山路, +86 21 6474 4533
Venue: The Chalet
Deal: RMB 30 cocktails and Hoegaarden drafts, and RMB 20 house wines and beers on Tuesdays, 3 p.m. till close.
Loosely modeled after a Swiss lodge, The Chalet is a cozy and relaxed spot to indulge on Tuesdays (all night, if you choose). Though they have killer espresso martinis for a pick-me-up, we go with the “Chalet,” a drink of the L.I.T. variety that can either start off or abruptly end your evening. For a snack, try the chicken tenders -- they're crispy, but light.
The Chalet, 385 Yongjia Lu, near Taiyuan Lu 永嘉路385号, 近太原路, +86 21 3401 0958
Deal: RMB 38 select “Mortinis” and free all-you-can-eat filet mignon sandwiches, Monday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Join the hoards of young and old professionals who flock to this American power lunch hot spot for pot-work drinks. Servers’ unrelentingly refreshing your empty plate of mini filet mignon sandwiches makes self-restraint difficult. Sure, you can get a Cosmo or chocolate martini, but the blue cheese-stuffed olives on hand should make classic a gin or vodka-based martini your obvious choice here.
Morton's Steakhouse, 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
Deal: Ladies’ Night. Free-flow margaritas on Wednesdays for women, 5 p.m. until close.
Zapata's boasts Shanghai's original ladies night and anyone who has been here a few years, probably has a number of stories to tell from blurry night there. Women enjoy as many frozen lime margaritas as they want -- they're free all night. Mexican-themed tasting plates (RMB 65), which include mini empanadas and burritos, are a smart investment to enjoy along with the endless drinks on the patio shared with sister-bar Sasha’s. Dancing on the bar inside optional.
Zapata's, 5 Hengshan Lu, near Dongping Lu 衡山路5号, 近东平路, +86 21 6474 6166 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), +86 21 6433 4104 (after 5 p.m.), www.zapatas-shanghai.com
Deal: Ladies’ Night. Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. at both locations
Female beer aficionados can rejoice at Kaiba’s buy-one-get-one-free deal on all bottled Belgian fruit beers and RMB 25 Vedett drafts. Start out with a 4.5 percent framboise (raspberry), followed by a lambic peach or cherry. All drinks are best enjoyed in the industrial-chic outdoor space at the Dingxi location.
Kaiba, 528 Kangding Lu, near Xikang Lu 康定路528号, 近西康路, +86 21 6288 9676; 739 Dingxi Lu, InShanghai Hub - Creative Park, near Yan'an Xi Lu 定西路739号, 近延安西路, +86 21 6280 5688, www.kaiba-beerbar.com
Deal: Martini Night. Select martinis for RMB 35, Thursdays starting at 8 p.m.
David Laris’s Mexican-themed “micro-lounge” has just expanded its Martini Night menu for the summer. Start with a passion fruit, French or lemon drop martini, and work your way through the list (you have all night) in this sophisticated, adobe-inspired venue.
Yucca, Sinan Mansions, 519 Fuxing Zhong Lu, Unit 26 A, near Chongqing Nan Lu 思南公馆 复兴中路519号, 近重庆南路, +86 21 3368 9525, www.yuccashanghai.com
Venue: The Alchemist
Deal: La Pause. House wine or cocktail of the day and snacks for RMB 45-50, Monday - Friday from 5 p.m - 7 p.m.
Take your post-work pause at one of The Alchemist’s corner tables for prime people watching and indulge in some free snacks and quality drinks. Choose among the house Pinot noir, house Pinot grigio, house Chandon sparkling or the cocktail of the day to go with what the kitchen’s serving up, which includes fried chicken, seasoned olives and tomato capresse salad.
The Alchemist Cocktail Kitchen, Sinan Mansions, Bldg. 32, 45 Sinan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 思南路45号思南公馆32号楼, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6426 0660
Deal: Daily Knock-Off Drinks. Bucket of four Tsingtao Gold or Heineken for RMB 100, and two-for-one house spirits and cocktail of the day. Two free items from the food menu if you buy a bottle of wine. Deals run Monday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
You can spot ultra-popular Kommune by the tables filled with an international mix of tourists and hip locals spilling out into a main artery of Tianzifang. There’s an extensive menu of food, coffee and booze on hand, or you can go straight for one of the buckets of beer for a lazy afternoon.
Kommune, No. 7, Lane 210 Taikang Lu, near Sinan Lu 泰康路201弄7号, 近思南路, +86 21 6466 2416
Venue: Helen’s Cafe
Deal: The Yard Fridays. Fridays starting at 7:30 p.m.
Hugely popular with students from nearby Tongji and Fudan University, Helen’s has a backpacker atmosphere (graffiti and international flags abound) and specials seven days a week. Our pick is Friday: starting at 7:30 p.m., come in for two free “yards” of draft Suntory served in a plastic, keg-like container. Come early to catch the RMB 16 burgers on offer from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Helen's Cafe, 49 Wuchuan Lu, near Wan'an Lu 武川路49号, 近万安路, +86 21 6536 8669
Venue: Bell Bar
Deal: Buy-one-get-one-free deal on all beer and cocktails, everyday 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Cozy, low-lit Bell Bar sits at the end of one of the Tianzifang lanes, and promises an intimate place to chill with friends over draft Vedett or Stella, and cocktails. The small, loft-like second floor with windows overlooking the lane traffic is arguably the best spot in the place. Good Old Fashioned’s too. The room at the top of the venue is perfect for reserving for a private party.
Bell Bar, No. 11 Lane 248 Taikang Lu, near Sinan Lu 泰康路248弄11号, 近思南路, +86 138 1777 8890, www.bellbar.cn
Venue: Tara 57
Deal: All cocktails (except absinthe) half price, daily 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
This bar gives you free almonds. If you’re not already sold, Tara has an outstanding and enormous cocktail menu with everything from stiff classics like the Rusty Nail, to the super sweet Zombie that arrives with liquor-soaked fruit still on fire. The red couches make a great spot for a date; if they’re full, watch your drinks being made at the wrap-around bar.
Tara 57, 2/F, 57 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu 复兴西路57号2楼 近永福路, +86 21 6431 7027
Deal: RMB 50 for a glass of wine and a tapa. Every day 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
One of the best things about Madrid has arrived in Shanghai: free tapas. Each glass of the wine of the day you order comes with a tapa of the day, which could be anything from a croquette, tomato jam on bread or fresh salami. Try to secure the small table next to the entrance so you can choose the music from the house’s stack of disco and pop vinyl.
Mistral, 133 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu 复兴西路133号, 近永福路, +86 21 6433 4261
Venue: Fulton Place
Deal: “Oysters & Bubbles.” Discounted oysters and sparkling wine on Fridays and Saturdays 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Just the name of this happy hour special promises a high-end afternoon on the terrace. Every weekend this summer, they’re offering imported oysters on the half shell and complimentary Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. A half dozen oysters and a glass of bubbly goes for RMB 160, or RMB 300 for six more and two glasses. Sounds addictive.
Fulton Place, 1/F, 570 Yongjia Lu, near Yueyang Lu 永嘉路570号1楼, 近岳阳路, +86 21 3461 1775
Deal: Buy-one-get-one-free deal on all drinks, daily from 4 p.m. - 7p.m. and 10 p.m. - midnight.
Offering two for one deals, twice a day, Kakadu is upscale but comfortable, so you can relax as you sip away under aboriginal art on comfortable couches that are accented with the modern decor. With an excellent Australian wine and beer selection as well as full bar, it’s a prime spot to meet up with friends before dinner or to linger afterwards.
Kakadu, 8 Jianguo Zhong Lu, near Chongqing Lu 建国中路8号, 近重庆路, +86 21 5468 0118
Venue: CHAR Bar, Hotel Indigo
Deal: Chilled Sundays. RMB 99 jugs of Bloody Mary, Pimm’s and sangria on Sundays from 2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Head from brunch to the 30th floor of the Hotel Indigo for a laid-back afternoon on the deck with one of the best views of both sides of the Bund. Split discounted jugs of sangria or the quintessential Sunday drink -- Bloody Mary -- with DJ playing lounge music and circulating canapés.
CHAR at Hotel Indigo, 29-31/F, 585 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, near Dongmen Lu 中山东二路585号29－31楼, 近东门路, +86 21 3302 9995, www.char-thebund.com
Venue: Paulaner Brauhaus (Expo location)
Deal: Half price for Paulaner beer, Mondays - Saturdays 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sunday includes 50 percent off food in the above deal.
Currently the longest happy hour in Shanghai, hit up the Expo location just about any time on the hankering hits Sunday. The three Munich draft beers (dark, wheat and lager) are all brewed on-site. If beer’s not your thing, taste one of the German wines or schnapps. Sit at traditional beer hall tables to eat half-priced bratwurst and Wiener schnitzel on Sundays.
Paulaner Brauhaus, 555 Shibo Dadao, Pudong, near the Expo Village 世博大道555号, +86 21 2206 0555, www.bln.com.cn
Venue: Boonna Café
Deal: Two for one on all cocktails, bottled beer and wine, everyday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
This laid-back coffee shop has a leafy front patio perfect for hanging out over coffee and breakfast sets all afternoon (with free Wi-Fi and friendly neighborhood cats). You don’t have to leave when the sun goes down though, every day it’s buy-one-get-one-free on Australian house wine, imported beer and cocktails. At RMB 20-45 per drink, it’s an affordable and chilled-out way to wrap up a hectic weekend.
Boonna Café, 1690 Huaihai Zong Lu, near Wuxing Lu 淮海中路1690号, 近吴兴路, +86 21 6433 0835