Nightlife

World's Best Bar Crawls

by Darrell Hartman

Shanghai

What's on tap: A toast to the city's riotous 1930s heyday in the French Concession's throwback bars

Why it's worth a shot: Pre-Communist Shanghai was a heady cocktail of showgirls, gangsters, opium fiends, and exiled aristocrats. Today, a surprising number of historic buildings in the old French Concession, the former nightlife hub, have been reborn as watering holes that offer a look at how the city once partied (well, with the exception of the opium fiends).

Booze route: Segue from afternoon tea to gin and tonics at the Ruijin Hotel, a renovated 1920s estate of a British newspaper owner where the bar is modeled on a Silk Route caravansary. Then hit Mansion Hotel, the one-time residence of a sybaritic Shanghai mob boss—his private stage, where he once had Peking Opera stars perform, still sits in the lobby. But now the party centers on the rooftop bar and its (ahem) killer views of the French Concession. Your last stop is Cotton's (pictured), an expat favorite housed in a 1927 villa. The labyrinthine mansion has plenty of nooks and crannies. Order up a spicy Chairman Mao shot (the recipe's a secret) and conk out in front of one of four fireplaces with your new best friend.

Hangover cure: Banish the aftereffects of that Chairman Mao with several rounds of dim sum at Bao Luo, a locals' joint known for its crab and pork meatballs.

Ruijin Hotel
Tel: 86 21 6472 5222

Mansion Hotel
Tel: 86 21 5403 9888

Cotton's
Tel: 86 21 6433 7995

Bao Luo
Tel: 86 21 5403 7239

NEXT: From smashed in China to smashing china

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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