Drinking and nightlife in Shanghai

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    Speak Low

    Speak Low is a speakeasy within a speakeasy within a speakeasy. Once you find your way in through the Ocho bar equipment shop, start with a drink on the 2nd floor; outstanding cocktails run ¥75 to ¥85. Then head upstairs (hint: find China and you'll find the entrance) to the intimate, seating-only bar for expertly crafted Japanese-influenced cocktails from ¥100.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    Ars & Delecto

    Parisian-style cafe, with round wooden tables, a long marble bar and simple art deco images on white walls, Ars & Delecto is, without a doubt, one of the best cocktail bars in town. The small but punchy drinks menu has classic tipples, martinis, negronis, whisky sours and highballs, plus signature creations served with serious style.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    The Odd Couple

    Enter this Xintiandi speakeasy via a wall of rainbow LED lights and an enormous Pac-Man screen at the top of the stairs. Inside it's an intimate, thin rectangular space with red lighting, small tables, standing space and a little smoking balcony. The concept comes from two esteemed bartenders, Tokyo's Shingo Gokan and New York's Steve Schneider. Throwback classic cocktails are mixed to perfection.

  • Nightlife in French Concession

    The Bunker

    This speakeasy is located inside the Green & Safe restaurant on the 2nd floor, behind a wooden palette–style door. This sophisticated spot is a top choice for a quiet cocktail within Xintiandi. If you're drinking, you can skip the Green & Safe dining queue and order from the menu. Most of the cocktails are excellent, though some are a bit wacky.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in The Bund & People's Square

    Long Bar

    For a taste of colonial-era Shanghai’s elitist trappings, you’ll do no better than the Long Bar. This was once the members-only Shanghai Club, whose most spectacular accoutrement was a 34m-long wooden bar. Foreign businessmen would sit here according to rank, comparing fortunes, with the taipans (foreign heads of business) closest to the view of the Bund.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    Café des Stagiaires

    This popular oasis of Francophilia is decked out in hip 'olde worlde' charm with a bar made from stacked suitcases and bistro-like decor, plus windows that fully open out creating a lovely patio atmosphere into the often raucous Found 158 complex. Cocktails include the mint julep, the basil smash and a punchy Sichuan negroni. Happy hour runs weekdays from 5pm to 8pm.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    Cotton’s

    This excellent bar is one of the most pleasant spots in the concession to raise a glass. Ensconced in a converted 1930s villa, the bar's interior has cosy sofas and fireplaces to snuggle around in the winter, and a tiny outdoor terrace on the 2nd floor. The real draw, though, is the garden, which is intimate yet still big enough not to feel cramped.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    1984 Bookstore & Cafe

    Big Brother might be watching, but he'd be hard-pressed to find you in this hidden nook of a bookshop-cafe off Hunan Rd. There's no sign, just a metal gate, and you'll need to buzz to get in. Once inside, there's a cosy room with exposed brick walls and a fantastic outdoor courtyard garden; perfect for breakfast or a coffee stop.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in The Bund & People's Square

    Barbarossa

    Set back in People’s Park alongside a pond, Barbarossa is all about escapism. Forget Shanghai: this is Morocco channelled by Hollywood set designers. The action gets steadily more intense as you ascend to the roof terrace, via the cushion-strewn 2nd floor, where the hordes puff on fruit-flavoured hookahs. At night, use the park entrance just east of the Shanghai History Museum building.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    Café del Volcán

    Tiny Café del Volcán offers a refuge from the bustle of Yongkang Rd. The minimalist cafe has just a few wooden box tables sharing the space with the roasting machine. The coffee here is excellent and its signature and very aromatic beans come from the owner's coffee plantation in Guatemala – in the family for 120 years.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in West Shanghai

    Beer Lady

    Originally a modest convenience store opened by a local woman (Mrs Zhang), this 24-hour drinking hole stocks around 200 varieties of craft beer. The shelves are lined with numerous international brews: Brooklyn, Vedett and BrewDog, along with heaps of lesser-known labels such as the rich and hoppy Rogue ales and stouts.

  • Nightlife in Jing'an

    Mokkos Lamu

    Hidden away on a residential side street, Mokkos is a long-running local fave that specialises in nothing but shōchū (a Japanese spirit). Intimate and cheerful, drinkers sit on stools around the curved bar lined with large, aesthetically pleasing shōchū bottles. There's a choice of wheat, rice or potato varieties. Cash only.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    Senator Saloon

    From the team behind Sichuan Citizen comes this classy 1920s Prohibition-style cocktail bar in a quiet spot on Wuyuan Rd. Slink into a dark-wood booth under pressed metal ceilings and dim art deco lights to order a barrel-aged negroni from waitstaff decked out in braces and bow ties. There's a long menu of bourbon and rye-whiskey cocktails; excellent service.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Jing'an

    Sumerian

    Run by a bright and sunny bunch, good-looking Sumerian packs a lot into a small space. The real drawcard here is the coffee – the cafe roasts its own single-origin beans sourced seasonally from Ethiopia, El Salvador and China. It does good pour-overs and lattes, as well as a nitro and eight-hour cold drip. The homemade bagels are winners too.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Jing'an

    Tap House

    Part of the trendy Zhang Garden eating and drinking complex, this brewhouse has a nice outdoor area, rooftop terrace and 20 craft imports on tap. Food is also a highlight with pub and barbecue dishes (mains from ¥65) like pork ribs, sliders and fish and chips. The VPN-enabled wi-fi is handy.

  • Nightlife in West Shanghai

    The Cannery

    One of the more elegant lounges in town, with a mock copper ceiling and low designer chairs. There's an emphasis on beer, cocktails and food from the sea. A sophisticated bar menu includes well-presented oysters, smoked salmon dip, duck liver mousse and salt and pepper calamari. Top craft beer on tap, like Brewdog’s Vagabond Session Ale.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in French Concession

    Boxing Cat Brewery

    A popular three-floor microbrewery, with a rotating line-up of top-notch beers that range from the Standing 8 Pilsner and Black EyePA to the Right Hook Helles. But that’s not all – the kitchen has paired Southern home cooking (gumbo, blackened fish tacos), burgers and beer snacks with the drinks. Come for a pint; stay for dinner.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in Pudong

    Flair

    Wow your date with Shanghai’s most intoxicating nocturnal visuals from the outdoor terrace on the 58th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, where Flair nudges you that bit closer to the baubles of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. The chilled-out interior, designed by the firm Super Potato, is also very cool. Book well in advance for the terrace.

  • Nightlife in West Shanghai

    Beer Lady – Kaixuan Road

    Beer Lady’s sister joint and Mrs Zhang's second beer venture, this Kaixuan Rd location is bigger, better and stocks even more bottled good stuff (supposedly 3000 varieties of beer). The space is decidedly more bar than shop and is furnished with ample wooden tables and a food counter.

  • Top ChoiceNightlife in The Bund & People's Square

    Glam

    The decor here is decidedly bohemian and its cool retro feel makes it one of the Bund's most atmospheric spots for a drink. Cocktail prices are accessible, as is the bar menu, ranging from truffle cheese toasties to soft-serve ice cream.