Next door to playful Chinese drinkery Yuan
, buzzy new bar Project Wine has been a long time coming. The space is owned and run by first-time bar-owners Liz Yuan, Sarah Chen and keyboardist Jessie Hao – otherwise known as all-girl Chinese jazz-pop trio The Fat Lips – who’ve long dreamed of owning their own bar.
The intent here appears to be to work towards a sort of weekend-geared, pre-game hang out that moonlights as a more low-key, date-night destination outside of Friday-Saturday window. Casual and lively, it feels like a more upbeat Dr Wine (the bar’s inspiration, we were told) or Uva in Jingan, but goes a bit further with a 2am license and audible but not overbearing house tunes.
They have a fairly enabling happy hour, too: buy-one-get-one-free on all glasses of wine (48RMB) until 10pm. For a wine bar, it’s not particularly high-minded or ambitious; the point here is the atmosphere.
The wine list, so far at least, is fairly trim, not much of an education for more elevated oeno-evangelists and plays it fairly safe with mostly mainstay grapes starting from 150RMB/bottle for a light, fruity Rocca Ventosa Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or a Marquis de Beau Rond chardonnay for 210RMB.
Beer is happily less obvious with Italian lager Menabrea (35RMB), the super-strong, 12 per cent Belgian pale ale Bush Ambree (38RMB) and recently revived French beer Gallia Paris (38RMB) among others by the bottle.
The real victory of Project Wine, though, is the interior. A win that belongs to both French designer Thomas Austerveil (who also did Wine Connection
in Jingan) and co-owner Hao, who sourced most of the retro furniture and light fittings herself.
The best area is upstairs at the back, where a sort of Scandinavian farm table is surrounded by re-salvaged primary-school chairs. You’d never guess most of it comes from Taobao. Much less how cheap it was. What’s the secret? ‘Key words,’ smiles Hao. ‘And patience.’
By Alexander Barlow