There are a number of corners of the Former French Concession where you could very easily, and very happily, spend an evening barhopping without walking much more than a block or three. Most recently, it seems to be the little patch in the southwest of the FFC where a spate of new bars have popped up. There’s Healer on Tianping Lu (a low-key neighbourhood cocktail spot from Phoebe Han, formerly of The Nest and Kee Club), The Water Margin on Hunan Lu, focused on cocktails but also on whiskies. And now, Trio.
Set on Taian Lu, Trio is run by head bartender Kimi Chu, only a few doors away from Heyday, where he previously presided. Trio’s name comes from what Chu sees as being the essential elements to a cocktails, a threesome of the base spirit, sweetness and sourness.
Founded on this fundamental belief, the menu at Trio is then
divided into two levels, separated by
section: junior, which are lighter in
flavour and often floral, and senior,
which implies more technically
involved preparations and deeper,
more complex flavours.
bourbon whiskey base, rippling with
soft undertones of kumquat and
ginger, the Golden Warm (88RMB) arrives in a tumbler and garnished
with two halves of a candied
kumquat – smooth, well balanced
and with a light pop from the citrus.
Coloured a vivid, neon green
straight out of The Secret World
of Alex Mack, the SI CHUAN Food
cocktail (88RMB) doesn’t
hit too hard with the spice
from its chilli-infused vodka, instead leaning towards brighter
flavours of fresh coriander and lime.
The drink is rimmed with honey and
sprinkled with five-spice powder,
further layering on the dimensions.
Squarely on the ‘senior’ section of
the menu, the Apricoffee (98RMB)
is a deep, heady blend of apricotinfused
tequila, espresso and a hit
of lime, none of which leads to
any issues tossing back.
For a fanciful, adultified
version of the Creamsicles
of your childhood, look to
Chu’s take on a Ramos Gin
Fizz (108RMB). Sweet-tart
and unimaginably creamy, the
labour-intensive drink, which
requires extensive shaking, is
prepared only only nine times a
day. Don’t sleep on it.
With a deep-house soundtrack,
a chill, sophisticated interior and a
solid roster of drinks, Trio has all the
right parts in all the right places.
By Cat Nelson