We were initially a touch sceptical of Barules, setting up shop so close to the fantastic Union Trading Company and part of a spate of ‘hidden’ bar openings at the time. But the Fenyang Lu space has gone from strength-to-strength since opening, and the quality behind the bar here has made them much more than a mere bandwagon jumper.
The menu features some complex drinks – with many involving at least half a dozen ingredients – but the vast majority come together well and make for some interesting sips. The cocktail list is divided into categories such as ‘sour’, ‘tiki’ and ‘bold’ to help you navigate your way through it, and staff are always on hand to offer suggestions. For a simple opener, try the Bramble (75RMB), which pulls together lemon and Crème de Mure over Bombay Sapphire gin, or the surprisingly light Boyhood (90RMB), which blends Barules’ own ginger beer and a touch of lemon with Dewar’s White Label Whisky and Suntory’s grape liqueur Kyoho Murasaki.
And if you think that a bright red English-style phone box on a street corner is a little too conspicuous for this bar to qualify as hidden, keep an eye on the walls – a secret door among the picture frames leads to a more secluded upstairs space (usually with a minimum spend of around 100RMB).