Building 2, Sinan Mansions, 4th floor
Tel: 86 21 3368 9419
This lounge offshoot of the Beijing original reproduces classic and rare cocktails with reverential precision. All the bitters, tinctures, and fruit syrups are made in-house. Highly descriptive, the extensive menu includes the Dark and Old Fashioned, made with Valrhona cocoa–flavored aged rum, cinnamon syrup, and cherry vanilla bitters. The contemporary interior of bare brick, leather, and hardwood is softened by a 1930s jazz and swing soundtrack and a long bar that's a perfect spot for Shanghai's white-collar cocktail set to sip, socialize, and network.—Gary Bowerman
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 5 pm to 1 am.
Tel: 852 3518 9330
The 29th-floor penthouse restaurant at Hotel LKF feels like a Hong Kong power couple's living room, with velvety couches, lacquered low-slung tables, and plenty of enviable artifacts. You can grab drinks on an outdoor deck that draws fashionable sorts willing to let the South China winds blow through their just-coiffed manes. The intimate rooms make it ideal for drinking with small groups of friends. The generous selection of Champagnes and fine wines plus cigars and snacks creates a VIP ambience; its location near Central makes it a popular spot for businesspeople who want to keep the conversation going after office hours. The club also attracts Lan Kwai Fong–bound revelers seeking a sophisticated start before venturing into that neighborhood's sweaty scene.
Open nightly 6:30 to 10:30 pm.
6 Gongti Xilu
Tel: 86 10 6551 9081
Beijing's moneyed hipsters congregate at this upscale nightclub, to swill Chivas-and-green-tea cocktails and groove to a techno beat. The see-and-be-seen dance floor is surrounded by tables, which you must get bottle service to reserve. They provide the perfect vantage point for surveying the crowd of well-heeled, designer-jean-clad revelers.
Bund 18, Level 7
18 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu
Tel: 21 6339 1199
Shanghai's classiest cocktail lounge draws a hip clientele with its sexy bordello-red decor and lively dancing. Behind the bar, skilled mixologists deftly toss and flip bottles as they pour mango mojitos and pepper-spiked vodka martinis. Be prepared for a lot of attention—Bar Rouge is known to be an international pickup joint (albeit an upmarket one). There's often a cover charge, and drinks are expensive...but the river view is priceless.
17 Zhangwang Hutong
Tel: 86 10 8400 1554
Set on a hutong alley in a traditional courtyard house, this softly lit bar and tapas restaurant is furnished with traditional Chinese kang beds (more like platforms than mattresses), tables and chairs, and modern Chinese art on the walls. Ideal for postprandial lounging, Bed is popular with young sophisticates, who enjoy reclining on piles of silk cushions to sip sangria and listen to sexy, DJ-spun salsa beats.
Grand Hyatt Shanghai, 87th Floor
Jin Mao Tower
88 Century Boulevard
Tel: 86 21 5049 1234
Though the skyscrapers of Pudong hold little allure for visitors, they do have one major attraction: stunning views. Perched atop the world's fifth-tallest building, the Grand Hyatt's Cloud 9 is the highest bar in the world, where a dark and moody decor frames the vast floor-to-ceiling windows. Sip a drink from the well-attended, touristy, bar and marvel at the 360-degree panorama, so high that clouds sometimes obscure the view.
1428 Huaihai Zhong Lu at Fuxing Zhong Lu
Tel: 86 21 6437 7110
This informal candlelit venue is one of Shanghai's longest-running jazz and blues clubs, and it continues to showcase the tightest performers in town. The bar is open nightly, and standing-room-only crowds pack the joint on weekends (come early if you want to snag a seat). The menu offers light fare, such as sandwiches and Asian snacks.
1949 The Hidden City, Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu
Tel: 86 10 6501 8881
Secreted in a former machinery and electrical plant, Décolleté has added much-needed sophistication to Sanlitun. The first true champagne bar to hit the capital has outlawed sleazegentlemen are admitted only with a ladyand attracts an urbane Beijinger set. The intimate candlelit interior has a Belle Époque look: walls hand-painted with the floral motif from the Cuvée Perrier-Jouët bottle, plush amber velvet banquettes, and Philippe Starck's Louis Ghost chairs. A huge selection of champagne is served by the bottle as well as in cocktailswe recommend Potion #5, a delicate blend of violet liqueur, gin, lemon, and house champagne.
The Centrium, 60 Wyndam Street
Tel: 852 3110 1222
It serves a tasty dim sum for lunch, but Dragon-I is better known as one of the city's plushest nightspots. Its rich red walls, banquettes, and dragon-festooned lanterns are courtesy of Parisian design queen India Mahdavi (she did Townhouse on South Beach and La Condesa in Mexico City). Despite being a near antique (it opened in 2002, forever ago in nightclub years), it was designated Club of the Year by the South China Morning Post in January 2006. The crowd tends toward hip, mojito-sipping thirtysomethings, who sway to the beats spun by European and Asian DJs.
26 Dongcao Yuan
Tel: 86 10 6551 6788
This sultry lounge and multicuisine restaurant is located in a refurbished school building. The stunning interior is infused with Southeast Asian spirituality, featuring dark-wood furnishings; warm red, orange, and yellow tones; Buddhist statues; silver stupas; and contemporary Chinese paintings. At the front is a spacious, layered patio terrace beautified by bamboo trees, a trickling brook, and a grand lawn, and shielded by a protective Imperial red wall with arched gates.
Open daily 6 pm to late.
No. 5 the Bund, 6th Floor
Tel: 86 21 6350 9988
Perched above the Bund is this dainty cocktail lounge, a confection of crystal chandeliers and low settees, pink-shaded lamps that cast a rosy glow, and windows overlooking the Huangpu River. By day it's a top spot for culture vultures, with author readings, lectures, performance art, and classical music concerts. By night, it morphs into one of Shanghai's swishest spots, with live music from cabaret to jazz, and an impressive list of candy-colored cocktails (try the ginger martini, not-too-sweet, with a sharp bite). The after-dark clientele is made up of Shanghai's bright young things, dressed to the nines. Don't even think about wearing jeans, and if it's the weekend, be prepared for a crowd.
203 Taiyue Suites
16 Sanlitun South Road
Tel: 86 10 6591 1191
Glen focuses on well-made drinks and, above all, whiskey. The concept is a Japanese whiskey bar, and the fine collection of single malts from around the world is prominently displayed behind the counter. As in any decent Tokyo whiskey house, the focal point is the back-lit bar, where the mixologist hand-chips the ice and prepares drinks with an artist's eye and a chef's dexterity. Nothing happens too fast here, so slouch in a cozy armchair, cradle a glass of Scotch, and lose yourself in the laid-back ambience—not many Beijing bars are made this way.—Gary Bowerman
Open daily 6 pm to 2 am.
60 Fuzhou Lu
Tel: 86 21 6323 2779
Relocated in June 2008 across town to a renovated mansion in the neoclassical backstreets behind the Bund, this is Shanghai's coolest late-night live-music house. A tribute to the city's popular 1930s jazz parlors, this intimate bar, restaurant, and club is dressed in hardwoods and Deco-chic furnishings, designed with a reverent regard for history. A beautiful long wooden bar serves up dirty martinis and kicking cocktails, while an international house band, which rotates on a three-monthly basis, cooks up a wicked menu of rock-and-soul-infused jazz and blues to a mixed local and visitor crowd. Table reservations required.
Open daily 7 pm to 1 am.
Pak Tsz Lane
Tel: 852 9099 2027
Tucked down a sloping backstreet lane, this word-of-mouth gem merits a late-night search. Jaabar is members-only, but visitors are let in if they ask nicely. The interior is dressed with Art deco–tinged mirrors and lamps, heavy gothic curtains, a large chandelier, and a tiny corner bar. Things don't get started until late, and the wickedly strong cocktail selection keeps the slightly alternative, low-key vibe going beyond midnight.—Gary Bowerman
Open daily 3 pm until late.
Pudong Shangri-La, 36th Floor
33 Fu Cheng Lu
Tel: 86 21 6882 8888
If you've come to Pudong to grab a drink at Cloud 9 take a five-minute stroll to the Shangri-La's Jade on 36 for bites of fusion tapas (foie gras lollipops dipped in caramelized sugar) in a gleaming, futuristic setting created by celebrated restaurant designer Adam Tihany—don't miss the bathrooms, which are like unisex space capsules. Though it's only 36 floors up (as opposed to Cloud 9's 87), the glass tower is closer to the Bund, making the riverside expanse clearer and the lights even more dazzling.
32 Wellington Street, 6th Floor
Tel: 852 2180 9000
Set above the historic Yung Kee Restaurant—the stomping ground of early-20th-century Chinese moguls—this members-only club is where the city's young and fabulous congregate. The space includes three elegant, low-lit salons (Red, Blue, and Golden), private dining rooms, a screening room, and an intimate lounge. Apart from the exclusivity, what makes Kee notable is its impressive design and art collection: The walls are hung with canvases from Picasso, Jean Metzinger, and Konstantine Bessmertny; club members can plant their derrières on furniture by Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Philippe Starck. Nonmembers looking for a dim sum lunch or after-dinner cosmo will run into a strict door policy, but concierges at select hotels (including the Peninsula, Jia, and Grand Hyatt—see Hotels) can get you the keys to Kee.
12 Jianguomenwai Avenue
Tel: 86 10 5109 6012
Designed by Philippe Starck and owned by Zhang Lan's South Beauty group, this grandiose, nearly 6,500-square-foot restaurant, bar, and club is signature Starck, only more so. It's a veritable design cornucopia of winged-eagle thrones, portraits, freestanding gold-framed mirrors, Mao-era memorabilia, and private dining rooms housed in Mongolian yurt tents. The club lounge has a Europe-meets-New-China vibe, with French DJ, hallucinatory video images, and Beijing's smart set socializing to impress.
Open daily, 11 am to 2 am.
3.3 Plaza B1, Sanlitun
Tel: 86 10 0134 8785
Finally, a Beijing dance club for people who actually like to dance. Lantern, in the expat nightlife district of Sanlitun, is cult local DJ collective Acupuncture's first boîte. The subterranean space has one of the biggest dance floors in town and a potent sound system that peals out techno and electronica, and has rapidly become a gathering place for real Beijing bohemians (no nouveaux riches here). It isn't all about the music: The mojitos and martinis are spot-on; our favorite cocktail, the Royal Lantern, muddles vodka, grenadine, lemon juice, and tonic. Come latethe tunes don't stop until you do, usually around 7 a.m.
East Gate, Yuanmingyuan Park
Tel: 86 10 8268 8003
This courtyard café and bar in the university district has a polished, scholarly vibe. The outdoor tables are usually filled with studying students; inside, light filters through the floor-to-ceiling windows across the colorful sofas and a bar that's cleverly built of stacked books. Nosh from a simple menu of Western snacks (pizza, pasta), and don't miss the bathroom, with its Plexiglas roof that doubles as a goldfish pond.
22 Chaoyangmen Wai Dajie
Tel: 86 10 6588 3333
Party the Chinese way: with karaoke, known in these parts as KTV. Beijing's most popular karaoke club boasts a warren of private rooms, rentable by the hour, and a gargantuan list of top-40 American and Mando-pop tunes. Warble away with the help of powerful microphones, leather sofas, and an enthusiastic staff who can help you order drinks or find songs in the computer. Afterward, if all that singing has made you peckish, indulge in the free after-hours buffet. Partyworld is hugely popular on the weekends, so it's best to reserve a room in advance.
62 Johnston Road
Tel: 852 2866 3444
The top three floors of the former Woo Cheong Pawn Shop, a four-story complex dating back to 1888, recently got a new lease on life as a colonial-chic gastropub and lounge. Salvaged building materials like wood panels from a Shenzhen shipyard and reproduction Chinese grill gates pay tribute to the building's previous incarnation. Skyscrapers illuminate the outdoor ambience on the spacious verandas and roof garden. Low-slung vintage chaises create a homey groove indoors, where imported ales and fruity cocktails appease the after-work crowd who stay on for Anglo comfort food items like roast bone marrow with horseradish cream, steak and kidney pudding, and of course, fish and chips with mushy peas.
Open Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 2 am, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 11 pm.
Prince's Building, 25th floor
10 Chater Road
Tel: 852 2537 1388
Hong Kong socialite Bonnie Gokson's life of travel and love of art shine through in her high-rise restaurant/lounge. Sevva is artfully divided into distinctive dining, wining, and lounge areas. The chandeliers are exquisite, the color scheme and fabrics betray a fashion designer's eye, and the lighting subtly illuminates the Hong Kong beautiful people that flock here nightly. Sevva's coup de grâce, however, is the magnificent wraparound cocktail terrace with panoramas of Hong Kong. Reserve well in advance, especially on weekends.—Gary Bowerman
Open Sundays through Thursdays noon to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 2 am.
B108, The Place
9 Guanghua Road
Tel: 86 10 6587 1311
Though housed in the basement of a shopping mall, Song is one of Beijing's most creative bars. The concept is infused with both traditional and future China. A striking layered cream interior symbolizes China's famous terraced rice paddies, while the music mix, cocktail selection, and patrons are distinctly New Beijing. Live music and DJs are supplemented by occasional open-mike hip-hop nights. Popular with a young, stylish set, Song represents an innovative new style of Beijing lounge that eschews bling for quality beatsand seems set to influence the direction of Beijing's new venues in the coming years.
Open daily, 11 am to 3 am.
South Gate, Ritan Park
This tiny, tranquil watering hole on the edge of an artificial lake in Ritan Park is the perfect place for a summer-evening cocktail. Grab an outdoor table, order a cold beer, and relax under the gingko trees.
Jumbo Kingdom, Shum Wan Pier Drive
Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen
Tel: 852 2552 3331
An open-air lounge with pale wood and all-weather Dedon furniture, Top Deck is (surprise!) the top deck at Jumbo, a floating Chinese restaurant near Stanley Market that's reached via a two-minute launch ride. With its backdrop of private yachts, elegant shorefront houses, and traditional Chinese boats, Top Deck is best for drinks at sunset, but there's also an elaborate Pan-Asian dinner menu and a fancy Sunday brunch. As the campy location suggests, it's a tourist magnet, but fun nevertheless.
3844 D'Aguilar Street
Tel: 852 2810 1510
Lan Kwai Fong, Central's entertainment district, is chockablock with clubs and night owls—but the sprawling, subterranean Volar sets itself apart from the riffraff with a strict (some say too strict) door policy. Each weekend, hundreds of models and pop stars—and the mere mortals who dress like them—mingle on the large dance floor and in the white and silver circular lounge to a New York–style soundtrack of hip-hop, house, and soul. The Martini Royale signature drink of vodka, gin, and champagne is a Hong Kong institution.
Hyatt on the Bund
199 Huangpu Lu
Tel: 86 21 6393 1234
Designed by in-demand Japanese firm Super Potato, Hyatt on the Bund's top-floor lounge bar is exotically styled as an upscale vineyard. Dressed in blond woods, bare bricks, and neon-lit fiberglass paneling, with wine bottles lining the entryway, Vue has a vibe that is both refined and playful. But it's the knockout views that stand it apart from most Shanghai lounges. A winding staircase leads to the 33rd-floor open deck terrace, with a whirlpool bath, daybedsand an unsurpassable Shanghai vista that spans out over the large U-bend in the Huangpu River, and is flanked by both the Bund and Lujiazui nightscapes.
Open Sundays through Thursdays 5 pm to 1 am, and Fridays through Saturdays 5 pm to 2 am.
C2 Haoyun Street
29 Zaoying Road
Tel: 86 133 2112 3678
It's all about the music at this sparsely decorated underground club. Forget posturing superstar DJs and starchitect design: White Rabbit is a serious clubbers-only late-night hangout. Two minimalist concrete floors and a small bar are electrified by Beijing's hottest and most eclectic music mix. Weeknights feature several specialist music evenings, with weekends dedicated to house, techno, and electronica pumping frenetically from the high-tech sound system.
1A South Nongzhanguan Lu
West Gate, Chaoyang Park
Tel: 86 10 6500 3377
Inspired by the 1960s film of the same name, Suzie Wong's attracts a late-night crowd of guys and gals on the prowl. The slick multilevel bar and lounge has an ornate China-chic decor: jewel-colored rooms with glowing lanterns, carved wooden furniture, and the drowsy aura of an opium den. Upstairs, the outdoor terrace is a pleasant spot to relax to the Latin house and funk spun by resident DJs Chozie and Bobby.
Park Hyatt Beijing, 6th floor
2 Jianguomenwai Street
Tel: 86 10 8567 1108
If you're looking to hobnob with Memoirs of a Geisha actress Gong Li or Tom Ford, head to the super-luxe Park Hyatt's Xiu, which steamrollered Beijing's nightlife scene as soon as it opened last summer. Bright young things flock to its modern siheyuan terrace overlooking the Central Business District to sip vodka cocktails or Grand Marnier cosmos. Even during the historic snowstorms last winter, intrepid Beijingers pulled on their Uggs (switching them for heels at the coat check, natch) and braved it on Bejing's see-and-be-seen Thursday nights. The door policy is pretty strict when Xiu reaches capacity, so arrive before 10 p.m. or dress to the nines.
200 Yongfu Lu by Hunan Lu
Tel: 86 21 5466 2727
A magical garden aglow with paper lanterns surrounds this grand French Concession villa, at times home to the Russian, Vietnamese, and British consulates. The interior befits the 1930s Tudor-style structure, intimate with mahogany furniture, scattered Chinese antiques, Deco furnishings, and shaded chandeliers that cast a warm glow against the copper ceiling. A sophisticated crowdspot the many romantic couplesdine on varied if slightly underwhelming local fare, such as the spicy, slightly sweet pomfret with minced pork, sautéed water vegetables, and featherlight vegetable buns. We recommend this place for an evening drink rather than a meal. In warm weather, find one of the secret spots in the enormous garden. Reservations recommended.
26F Sinan Mansions, 3rd floor
Tel: 86 21 3368 9525
Brash, bold, and colorful, just like modern Shanghai, David Laris's Yucca evokes elements of a Frida Kahlo dreamscape, a 1960s Latino movie set, and a cosmopolitan lounge. The bites are tasty and fresh, ranging from a piquant tomato salsa to churros with chocolate and a twist on the traditional quesadilla; the Latin cocktails are competent if unspectacular. Perhaps a little contrived but always fun and upbeat, Yucca and its Mexican modernity, live DJ sets, and palpable New Shanghai buzz attract a mixed clientele of party people and casual cocktail sippers.—Gary Bowerman
Open daily 6 pm until late.
1 Gongti Beilu
Tel: 86 10 6415 0687
Rock-'n'-rollers hang out at this relaxed, grotty dive, known as the city's best spot for live music. The cheap beer, pool table, rickety stage, and empty parking lot (where leather-clad groups gather to smoke between sets) contribute to the rocker vibe. Performances vary nightly; you might catch a local punk band, a jazz ensemble, or a DJ set. The place shakes hardest on the weekends, though, when the highest-decibel acts take the stage.