14 seriously cosy Shanghai bars for winter drinking

Chasing those warm and fuzzy feels? Beat the winter blues at these comfy and boozy cold-weather escapes

Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe

'Tis the season of cold, cold weather, but fortunately in Shanghai we’re not short on toasty spots to retreat with a stiff drink or two in hand. From friendly neighbourhood hangouts to lavish hotel bars with skyline views to trendy cocktail dens, here are the cosiest bars to get those warm and fuzzy feels in Shanghai this winter.

Ars & Delecto

Ars & Delecto

Good for post-work drinks (or excuses aside, just because the drinks are great)

A bar/café that looks like it was pulled from the winding lanes of Paris, it would be a wise winter decision to hole up here and sip on some strong drinks – including a number of absinthe cocktails that are sure to light a fire on even the coldest of nights. Grab a table on the first floor (akin to a European café and very neighbourhood in feel) for a post-work drop-in when the drab weather gets you down. Read more.

Barbarian

Barbarian

Good for bohemian vibes

A two-storey bar and barbeque restaurant that’s firmly established itself as a de facto date spot within many Jingan circles. Here, the toe-warming vibes start with the cavernous interior, but it’s upstairs on the terrace, decked out with cushions, fairy lights, tree stump tables and heaters where it really hits those toasty bohemian notes. Read more.

Chameleon

Chameleon

Good for beach house vibes that will make you forget it’s actually the middle of winter

Summer memories, fading away, won’t feel so distant when you’re plonked into one of the comfy wicker chairs at Chameleon, a well-executed bar verging on a Mediterranean living-room. The drinks menu is designed around owners Carson Xie and Eddy Yang’s travels, which in itself will make you want to plan your next getaway. In the meantime, settle for something festive like the Mulled Wine Cobbler (98RMB) – a Southeast Asian take on the classic with shiso and blueberry Grand Marnier, mulled wine reduction and lemon juice. Read more.

Cotton's

Cotton's

Good for hot toddies by the fire

On most winter nights, both locations of Cotton’s are teeming with after-work punters. Set in restored villas on Anting and Xinhua Lus, both feature large garden terraces kitted out with heaters and blankets. But it’s the original Anting Lu location that really amps up the winter comfort. Inside, soak up club room vibes, order a hot toddy and battle it out for a front-row seat in prime real estate – in front of one of the two fireplaces. Read more.

Country Road

Country Road

Good for cheap drinks in quirky confines

Cheap and cheerful, Country Road is a match made in heaven for those seeking quick refuge from the cold with its beanbags, stacked burgers, week-long drinks specials and Shisha. The second floor, with its low ceiling beams and wooden decor, is homely in a Bilbo Baggins in The Shire sort of way and where the comfort reaches its peak. Read more. Read more.

Dead Poet

Dead Poet

Good for finding the tortured artist inside

Dreary weather has the tendency to bring out the pensive figure by the window in all of us and Dead Poet (where each drink has its own unique poem) is an excellent spot to scooch up close with friends for some important life musings. Inside small groups can get convivial in low-slung seating before the bar or – for a bit of privacy – tucked away in intimate cubby holes out the back. Read more.

Il Bar

Il Bar

Good for pleasing non-negotiable Bund view requests from out-of-towners

When your cosy inklings take a more expensive turn, look no further than Bvlgari Hotel Shanghai’s Il Bar. Perched high up on the 47th floor, understated Italian elegance is the key theme here – from the sleek bronze-topped bar to the candlelit tables. It gets extra brownie points for its range of martinis that even Bond would scoff at and the 360-degree skyline views (hands-down some of the best in the city). Read more.


Long Bar

Long Bar

Good for grand gesture dates and live jazz

Formerly an exclusive gentlemen’s club, the grand walls of The Waldorf Astoria’s Long Bar provide a fitting remedy to Shanghai’s chilly season. Armed with a majestic 80-seater mahogany bar, things here are certainly lavish with lots of leather (armchairs, the menu and more), dark woods, marble columns, Persian rugs and regular live jazz. For those doing dry January, there’s a decent list of non-alcoholic cocktails to keep you on the wagon. Read more.

Senator Saloon

Senator Saloon

Good for candlelit dates

When temperatures drop in Shanghai, they really drop and it’s imperative to find somewhere wood-clad with soft leather booths and the stiffest of drinks to hunker down with. This 1920s prohibition era-inspired bar fills that space with its extensive whiskey collection and barrel-aged cocktails (like the old fashioned or Negroni), soft lighting and a soundtrack taken right out of an Al Capone movie. Read more.

Pocho Social Club

Pocho Social Club

Good for great hospitality into the early hours

No regrets is the mantra when you’re feeling it the next morning from some heavy tequila-based cocktails at this small-but-mighty Mexican bar. Known around town for its super-friendly hospitality, it may officially close at 2am but expect to linger around till much later sharing stories with the crew. Read more.

Punch Room

Punch Room

Good for glitzy group get-togethers

Slump into an inviting armchair by one of the windows at The Shanghai EDITION’s glam hotel bar and you’ll be all set for a swanky nightcap featuring unrivalled views of Pudong’s skyscrapers. Views aside, the low ceiling, funky beats and strong punch bowls make this an excellent choice for cosy catchups with the crew. Read more.

Union Trading Company

Union Trading Company

Good for excellent cocktails shaken by bar staff who remember your name

Hitting that sweet spot between award-winning drinks and neighbourhood vibes, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more welcoming bar in Shanghai than Union. Small in size, but big on heart, it radiates make-yourself-at-home energy – plus the menu of boozy winter antidotes don’t disappoint. Read more.

Valpasso

Valpasso

Good for tasteful pre-town tipples with the gang

This sophisticated cocktail den can be a little tricky to find, so look up towards the plush burgundy curtains and dark brooding lights once you’ve weaved your way around the back of 758 Julu Lu. Inside there’s a lot of red, lots of velvet and more cushy deco that would slot seamlessly into any Hollywood mogul’s home cinema. Nab a seat by the bar and wipe away those pesky winter blues with a drink like the Grasshopper (88RMB) – a delightfully creamy unison of green mint liqueur, white cacao liqueur and white chocolate. Read more.

Vinism

Vinism

Good for cheese and wine nights

Wine and cheese: It’s an unbeatable combination during winter months and one that Vinism does well. Oozing French charm, this laid-back wine bar and eatery pulls in aficionados and newbies alike for its list of organic, natural and biodynamic wines, as well as a cellar packed with bottles from the around the globe. Read more.

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