The review below is for Flask's former Shaanxi Nan Lu location.
It’s not been open long, but already this Taiwanese-run bar is regularly packed with a hip crowd; arrive after 10pm any day of the week and you may struggle to get a seat. Of course, you have to find it first. One of the main attractions of Flask is bringing people to what seems like a half-finished sandwich shop, and watching the look of befuddlement spread across their faces.
Once you’ve found the door, you duck through a small tunnel and emerge into a strikingly modern feeling bar area. The designers have thrown geometric shapes across the ceiling while the soundtrack hews toward clubby house, somewhat at odds with the braces, flat caps and dress shirts worn by the staff, and the menu of mostly Prohibition-era cocktails handed to you.
From the ‘ladies’ section of said menu, the Taiwan Plum Soup (90RMB) comes in a bowl-like cup with dried plum powder around the rim and a slightly sweet but not unpleasant mix of rum, plum liqueur and osmanthus wine inside. From the ‘gents’ side, the Robin Hood Roy (90RMB) of blended Scotch, sweet vermouth and infused lemongrass arrives in a small metallic container resembling an oil can, hidden inside a book. It’s a fun touch, but the drink itself is less remarkable. The Lucien Gaudin (80RMB) from the ‘Prohibition classics’, is better, with its gin, Cointreau, Campari and dry vermouth making for a smokey sip.
Shanghai shows no signs of getting over the speakeasy craze, but Flask needs a little more attention on the drinks side if it wants to be more than just WeChat moments photo fodder.
By Jake Newby