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night talk:
Upper East & Horizen

Upper East

What: New Xujiahui lounge with the feel of an exclusive gentlemen’s club

Why: Adds geographical width to Shanghai nightlife and several of the drinks are extraordinary

How much: Cocktails RMB 58 – 188, Emperor Iced Tea Punchbowl RMB 888.

Where: 1F, 15 Dong'an Lu, near Zhaojiabang Lu. Tel: 6417 6160.

Going out for a drink on Zhaojiabang Lu feels weird – not bad in any way – it’s just very strange. The concentration of Shanghai’s nightspots in a few oversaturated areas can get a bit tiring, so venues that gamble on new locations are very welcome, but admittedly it takes some getting used to. Upper East is a good start – a tastefully decorated lounge spread across several low lit rooms resulting in a cross between a catacomb and a nineteenth century English gentlemen’s club.

The cocktail menu also harkens back to a bygone era with vintage, modern and luxury classics. For most drinks you’re given the choice of a downtown (RMB 58) or uptown (RMB 88) option determining the quality level of the base alcohol. Head barkeep Pablo Toledo’s Pimm’s Rangoon was honestly one of the best drinks we’ve enjoyed in Shanghai; the Gin Sour and motorcycle-inspired CJ-750 were also big winners. Toledo stresses balance in his drinks, respecting the individual ingredients but making them play together deliciously. An extensive champagne and cigar list round out the big spender possibilities.

In soft-opening the music selection was a bit too quirky and somewhat directionless, but that can be quickly remedied. Upper East’s biggest challenge will be convincing people to break out of their geographical comfort zones.


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