Dream team Daniel An (Atelier) and Vincenzo Pagliara (formerly ZUK Bar) have opened a two-in-one-cocktail bar at what’s become a buzzing stretch of Shaanxi Bei Lu. At Arch, it’s aperitivo time in the front, cocktails in the back.
With a sleek, pared-back elegance, the aperitivo bar set in the anteroom offers two curved banquettes to unwind in over a levelled-up classic (a bellini spiked with peach distillate) or one of An and Pagliara’s own aperitivo takes (yuzu soda with Malfy gin and Cocchi Americano, for example).
Love a bit of chemistry with your cocktails? A glassed-in room puts two rotary evaporators on display, so you can get a glimpse into drinks wizardry, before the space opens out into the main bar floor and long bar. Sexy
is the operative word here – Instagram-ready circular mirrors, beautiful curved lamp fixtures and a flawlessly lit wall of bottles behind the bar.
The bar takes its name from the metaphorical bridge An and Pagliara are hoping to build between the flavours and gastronomic cultures of their respective countries, China and Italy. Cocktails reflect that abstractly – some with more prominent Italian roots (gin with oxidized fennel Riesling, strawberry gomme syrup and grilled lemon), some more Chinese (bourbon with hawthorn wine, buckwheat and tonka bean) and a few fusing the two (a rum concoction drawing on both beetroot and hawthorn).
While drinks are a melding of East and West flavours, the food falls largely into the Italian camp: pastas, beef carpaccio, Caprese salad. The kitchen hand-makes much of the pasta – dig into tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and wild boar sausage or gnocchi in a blue cheese pesto sauce – which as a nod to cultural differences can be ordered ‘mian’ style (softer) or al dente.
By Cat Nelson