Blackstone Magic Bar

158 Julu Lu

Cocktails and magic, you say? Blackstone Magic Bar sounds so geeky, but in the coolest way possible. Opened by the talented and charismatic Hong Kong magic man Anson Chen, it’s the first magic bar in China, and an awesome concept – molecular cocktails mingling with mysterious tricks and magical history, performed by intelligent, passionate magicians.

You can pop in any night to enjoy drinks and magic tricks performed every half hour or so, but the real draw is the interactive, intimate magic show, put on for small audiences in the bar’s 30-seat red velvet amphitheatre. Show tickets are 240RMB per person and include one cocktail, and spots book up quickly.

So how about that magic? The performance draws you in and fascinates; the magicians are talented, engaging and witty; the mindfully chosen soundtrack perfects the atmosphere of mystique. You’ll spend the show on the edge of your seat trying to figure out just how exactly they do it (to no avail – they’re all pros at what they do). It’s good stuff.

But in addition to the magic tricks, another successful illusion comes in the form of Blackstone’s cocktails. The signature drinks are an absolute treat for the eye – and reference famous historical magic tricks – but the flavours do not live up to their lavish looks. A seductive offering, Red Hot Mama presents a trio of edible make up: red jelly lipsticks moulded from gin, wild strawberry, red hot pepper and mint; a oral powder compact of Pernod, tiny pink sago balls and rose water; and a crystal spray bottle of the same as the lipsticks (minus the pepper), all served with a glass of Moscato Rose sparkling. You’ll appreciate the artfulness, but at 160RMB, Champagne paired with a collection of gelatinous perfumed snacks is a real let down.

The Milk Can (95RMB), an ode to Houdini’s milk can escape trick, represented by a liquid amber pocket of turmeric rum that you ‘break free’ with your straw, is quite tasty, reminiscent of boozy bubble tea with its sago pearls, coconut cream and toasted meringue top.

Even the classic cocktails disappoint (all 80RMB), from the mojito that’s not much more than a sour glass of lime juice, to the intriguing Absinthe Frappé in the form of a watered down sip of chocolate-infused absinthe at the bottom of full glass of crushed ice.

This is a place you want to love. Unfortunately, imbalance between drinks and magic sets it back. ‘But isn’t the magic what you’re really paying for?’ Well, when it comes down to it, the name on the door says ‘Blackstone Magic Bar’, not ‘Blackstone Magic Theatre’, and at 80-100RMB per drink, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to be palatable. Hopefully, the same ‘practice makes perfect’ attitude for magic tricks will extend to the bar in the future. In the meantime, the spellbinding show has us sold.

By Elysia Bagley

Venue name: Blackstone Magic Bar
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 7pm to 1am; shows Fri-Sat 7:30-9pm
Mobile: 13918462770
Metro: Huaihai Zhong Lu
English address: Unit 5152, Found 158, 158 Julu Lu, near Ruijin Yi Lu, Huangpu district
Chinese address: 黄浦区巨鹿路158号5152室,近瑞金一路