Now that we can once more dine-in, the question is: do we really want to? Of course we’ll all continue frequenting cafes, restaurants and bars from time to time, yet reclaiming the streets has become a main theme of this year. Seeing small groups of people scattered across steps, doorways, pavements and street corners has become the new norm when wandering the city’s streets on an evening.
Although we’ve seen a booming rise in the number of bottle shops and streetside craft beer stations over recent years, street drinking is now growing a classier dimension for the more discerning reveller. Read on to discover our selection of fine wine, cocktail and highball delights.
Photograph: Yu Zhiming
For anyone in need of convincing that cocktails can be enjoyed outside of a sleekly designed venue, this is the place to come. Mixed-to-order drinks are handed over in a see-through, street-chic plastic tote bag which fabulously shows off the drink’s vivid colours and is perfectly Instagram-ready. Furthermore, The Explosion of the Berry cocktail is itself served in a stylish metal tin that is both collectable and fully reusable. A selection of around ten seasonally-inspired cocktails are available, all concocted by the in-house mixologist team and costing between 58–88RMB each (half price if you become a member for free via its mini programme).
Tonic Bar, 47 Ruijin Er Lu, near Nanchang Lu. 3pm-midnight.
Photograph: Yu Zhiming
Along a similar theme, but sitting on a more popular drinking location, 28 Cocktail also serves tasty tipples from their well-illuminated roadside serving window. While there is a small adjoining room and (historically) a seating area outside, the bar has recently been enclosed by temporary fencing due to… yeah, you guessed it. However, this doesn’t mean it’s an end of the party, with orders being taken through QR codes and then hand-delivered across the two-metre chasm. Digital membership cards are also available, but be mindful of congregating in large groups if local forces object.
28 Cocktail, 4 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Julu Lu. 6pm-late.
Photograph: @luckymartshanghai via Instagram
For a more established option, Lucky Mart have been furnishing us with their own blend of highball (spirit and mixer) drinks for over two years already. With beer, snacks and sharing platters also on the menu, this ever-popular haunt has long been at the centre of the city’s street culture scene with a reasonably good selection of whiskey stacked up behind the bar. Besides, its resemblance to a Family Mart- / Lawson-style convenience store greatly adds to the charm of sitting on a curb with friends.
Lucky Mart, 185 Fumin Lu, near Julu Lu. 3pm-4am.
Photograph: courtesy Pudao Wines (Shankang Lane)
For anyone missing those good old days down Yongkang Lu, Shankang Lane is slowly taking the mantle of being Shanghai’s favourite bar area. The much-loved indoor skating venue, RIINK, has eight summer-tinged cocktails which are all served ready-to-go. Likewise, they serve great Virgin Mojitos, floats, sodas and juices for anyone wanting a non-alcoholic flavour to savour. Alternatively, Pudao Wines offer a rather fine selection of alcoholic grape juice either by glass or bottle, lending a more distinguished air to proceedings. As a third, and by no means final option, In a Cup brings the concept of street cocktails very much to the forefront. If any of the six brightly coloured cocktails don’t hook your attention, the Great Godfather which comes served in a hip-flask shaped bottle certainly will.
Shankang Lane, 358 Kangding Lu, near Shaanxi Bei Lu. 4pm-late.
Photograph: Yu Zhiming
If it’s refinement you’re looking for, this sumptuously boutique Gin bar remains a great option to break away from the crowds. Opened last September in a part of downtown less-known for partying, Ginetics is not entirely a place for street drinking per se. However, a seat by the retractable window provides very much the best of both worlds. The décor has a very classic French / Shanghainese vibe, with low-lighting (despite the wonderfully ornate chandelier that dominates the bar) and gentle soft jazz welcoming you to lose hours lost amongst an impressive gin selection. Gin-based cocktails are also available, with prices ranging between 65-130RMB. Sadly, Ginetics is closing in two weeks’ time with July 16 being its last day; better check it out before it’s too late.
Ginetics, 75 Ruijin Yi Lu, near Julu Lu. 5pm-late.