All types of alcohol are widely consumed in Shanghai. The bar and nightclub scene has taken off in recent years, from a few quiet restaurants and seedy karaoke bars to dozens of dive bars, live-music venues, British sports pubs and trendy nightclubs.
The highest concentration of stylish establishments is in the former French Concession and on the Bund, where you can get top-notch martinis and spectacular views of the new Pudong skyline across the river. There are new ‘in’ spots springing up all the time, and it’s best to get a feel for the current vibe by asking around and checking the buzz on www.cityweekend.com, www.enjoyshanghai.com, www.smartshanghai.com or www.shanghaiexpat.com.
Chinese red wines such as Great Wall and Grace Vineyard, which used to be unpalatable, have come a long way. Imported wines from Australia, the US and Europe are available at international supermarkets. Chinese beers such as Tsingtao are sold cheaply at local supermarkets alongside imported Japanese and European beers at a few RMB more per bottle. Most bars serve a few draught beers, and specialty beer bars, as well as micro-breweries, are a growing trend in Shanghai. For something different, try baijiu, a grain-based spirit brewed differently in each region in China. Take the first drink slowly, as some varieties reach 50% alcohol!
The Chinese love their tea and the local favourite is green tea (lucha). There are elegant teashops throughout the city, with the largest on Caobao Lu and Datong Lu. Coffee has always been hugely popular in Shanghai among both locals and expats. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) all the existing coffee houses – most established by local artists, writers and intellectuals in the 1920s and 30s – closed. Now they’re back, with well over 60 coffee chains in Shanghai thronged with foreign and Chinese students, professionals and tourists from all walks of life. Many newer coffee houses also serve healthy sandwiches, wraps and smoothies.
91 Xingguo Lu
In a quiet leafy street overlooking a park, Ginger offers excellent coffee and some serenity and excellent coffee.
Cafe Del Volcan
80 Yongkang Lu
With coffees from around the world, this coffee-only cafe is positioned on the bustling bar street but is first choice for coffee lovers.
House of Flour
1/F, 635 Bibo Lu, Zhangjiang Tech Park, Pudong
Pudong doesn’t have the chic café scene of Puxi; however, House of Flour gets rave reviews from expats craving the precious baked specialties of Singaporean baker Brian Tan.