The Best New Shanghai Bars to Open in 2019

The good, the bad and the ugly. The weird and the wacky. As is the Thats tradition, weve compiled our 2019 China Year in Review series. So sit back, relax and relive the highs and lows of the last 12 months.

Here were some of our favorite new Shanghai bars from 2019.

Arch by Taste Buds

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

We first met Vincenzo Pagliara at The Sukhothai Shanghai, and found ourselves extolling the virtues of his creative, nature-driven menu at The Zuk Bar. When we learned he was leaving Shanghai for his native Italy, we were bummed until we found out he was going to split his time across continents and go into business with local industry all-star Daniel An, of Antique and Atelier fame. 

Weve been fans of An for even longer than Pagliara, watching his journey from the over-the-top creations of his first bar, Taste Buds Cocktail Palace, to the more restrained classicism of Ateliers program. Always ones to experiment, this new partnership allows the pair to go nuts in their lab, where they keep the fancy equipment like a rotary evaporator behind a glass wall.

At Arch by Taste Buds, the results are featured on two different menus matching the venues two bars. There is a smaller aperitivo bar at the front, with a longer cocktail bar to the back. Both menus feature Italian and Chinese flavors, with the back bars menu laid out symbolically in an arch.

Arch by Taste Buds, 688 Shanxi Bei Lu, by Wuding Lu 688, .

Birds of Paradise

Image courtesy of Birds of Paradise

Shanghai is a far cry from a tropical paradise, but in peak summer the temperature is as balmy as any South Pacific island. The remedy for the hot sticky exhaustion of August has arrived in the form of Birds of Paradise, a new tiki bar in Jingan from barman Yao Lu and chef Austin Hu. 

Their previous collaboration, Union Trading Company, is celebrating its fifth anniversary. UTC is a cocktail institution that regularly lands in Asias 50 Best Bars list thanks to its blend of friendly, unpretentious hospitality and excellent cocktails. With Birds of Paradise, Lu and Hu have given that same winning formula a cheeky tropical twist.

Birds of Paradise, 98 Yanping Lu, by Wuding Lu 98, .


Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

There are a lot of different types of people in Shanghai, and Curfew strives to be a fluid and welcoming space for all of them. That space presents itself as a boldly-colored yet moody interior with a mix of high tables and comfortable lounge areas, located on the backside of Fengyang Lus Howard Johnson Hotel.

While primarily a cocktail bar, Curfew has already played host to LGBTQIA+ events from Plastic, POP! and Qmmunity, ensuring busy weekends. They arent as busy during the week, which might appeal to shyer sorts, although we imagine that situation changing once the food menu is up and running. For now, we suggest popping over to Tiger Bites if you get hungry.

Curfew, 1/F, 1 Fenyang Lu, by Huaihai Zhong Lu 11, .

Dead Poet

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

If youve been to Bar No. 3, you might experience a sense of deja vu at this hip addition to the Oha empire. The design firm turned food and beverage group has installed a bar at Dead Poet that resembles its predecessor Bar No. 3 with the notable exception of a very fancy looking sound system on the well-stocked shelves.

Walk towards the back, and youll find some nice private tables, as well as a charming outdoor seating area. Theyve done an excellent job of creating a sense of intimacy while allowing plenty of elbow room even on a busy Saturday.

Named for a deceased poet that resided upstairs, the bars menu is presented on an intentionally beat-up booklet of tissue paper, with descriptions broken up by verse. Our favorite line of poetry Vibration is a form of trembling without fear. After pondering that for a while, we needed a stiff drink.

Dead Poet, 158 Jinxian Lu, by Maoming Nan Lu 158, .

Mary Magnate

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

Shanghai needs more Prohibition-themed whiskey bars, says no one ever. Malt Fun, however, is a highly regarded member of this genre, which piqued our interest in their new concept: Mary Magnate. This joint consists of two different concepts, with Mary (named for the black and white film ingenue M. Pickford) churning out creative lower ABV tipples, and Magnate serving straight-up classics.

Mary & Magnate, 122 Wulumuqi Nan Lu, by Yongjia Lu 122, .


Image by Sophie Steiner/That's 

With its eclectic mix of venues, Found 158 has always felt like a modern-day Worlds Fair fishbowl. With eccentric Bedouin- and Mongolian-influenced tribal vibes and underrepresented Middle Eastern fare, Nomad fits right in among its neighbors a French bistro, an Indian fine dining slash nightclub, purveyors of Vietnamese street food and more.

Nomad is a casual, hostel-like hangout thanks to natural tones mingling with eccentric Arabic decor from the BIBIMI Group (who also own Bites & BrewsBarbarian, and Hot Chick). The expansive drink list featuring wine, beer and DIY experimental cocktails curated by Sasha Bondi complement Todd Losaccos Levantine food options nicely

Nomad, B/1, Found 158, 158 Julu Lu, by Ruijin Yi Lu 158B1, .


Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

After another blazing hot and humid Shanghai summer, we were especially eager to welcome the transition to fall. The problem is that the typically small window of comfortable weather has shrunk even further, with lows hitting below 15-degrees as early as mid-October.

Enter Perch, a small-sized bar with a humongous wraparound terrace (seriously, follow it around the building, you will be surprised by how much room there is). On our first visit, we sunk into the cushioned al fresco seats and thought to ourselves, Heres the bar weve looking for all summer.

If the bird-themed name didnt tip you off, Perch has loose ties to The Rooster down the street. While that means some of the key guys are involved, they are going for a different experience. There will be no sports on TV or noisy parties, but there will be after work wind downs and casual catch-ups.

Perch, Rm 107, 445 Jiangning Lu, by Wuding Lu 445107, .

Suzu Bar

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

Hidden away from the dive bars lining Changshu Lu is Suzu Bar, an intimate space that feels worlds away from the glare of the outside world. Ginza native Toshiya Suzuki, who worked as bar manager for famed bartender Takao Mori, is behind the menu of strong drinks. 

Consisting of a short bar and limited lounge area, this laidback den of quality cocktails makes us selfishly consider keeping it to ourselves, but judging from the full house of sophisticated locals enjoying touches like warm towels and welcome cups of hot dashi-based soup, the cats already out of the bag. 

Suzu Bar, 301 Huashan Lu, by Changshu Lu 301, .

[Cover images by Cristina Ng and Sophie Steiner/That's]

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