Union opening: Two of Shanghai’s foremost culinary figures, Austin Hu of Madison and Yao Lu are collaborating on a new cocktail bar. Expect delicious cocktails and canapes paired with quintessential American hospitality – think the speakeasy version of Madison. No secret handshakes or VIP lists here however, everybody should feel like a member according to Hu. And like at Madison, cocktails will be whipped up from scratch using fresh ingredients rather than the usual purees and neon nonsense. Food entails traditional American bar classics – ie. pressed roast pork and smoked ham sandwich with pickles and Swiss cheese. But knowing Austin, it’s safe to assume they’ll be better than a smoked ham sandwich at any ol’ American bar. Union is slated to open in April or May not too far from Madison.
Clandestino opening: Austin Hu isn’t the only chef delving into the cocktail scene. El Willy is currently putting the finishing touches on Clandestino, Clandestino, a Taixing Lu cocktail bar with Japanese-inspired cocktails like at El Cóctel but with a cigar lounge and a greater emphasis on wine. He’ll also be opening Spanish-latin Tapas bar Tomatito nearby. Both openings are scheduled for either April or May.
XUAN bar: XUAN Bar is the newest occupant of Xintiandi’s Andaz complex, but unlike most Xintiandi businesses it has class. The decor bridges the gap between bombastic and understated with a fiery Southwestern red-yellow tempered by artful shadows, and gold pillows and vibrant pillars soothed by dim lighting. The bar is in the round and occupies the center of the first floor, while the second floor consists of a row of isolated nooks with sofa-chairs and a fully-glazed facade through which to survey Xintiandi.
The bar menu’s signature cocktails are as simultaneously scintillating and downplayed as the decor, with the complex but refreshing “Naked and Famous” with Hendrick’s gin, muddled fig, mandarin, balsamic, and black pepper and the “Anise-thetizer;” raw sugar, grapefruit, bitters, fine bourbon, and absinthe mist. Don’t let the “punny,” innuendo-laced names fool you, the concoctions are calculated and tasty – you don’t feel like you’re drinking someone’s chem class experiment. They’re also working on some baijiu cocktails, which as you know, could be the next big thing at Western bars.
Fare is heartier than at most bars with an amalgam of both Western favorites such as burgers and charcuterie, and Chinese classics like real wonton soup (38RMB) and an especially brawny Taiwanese beef noodle soup (68RMB). XUAN does a non gender-biased “ladies night” every Thursday from 5-10pm, where ladies get complimentary selected cocktails, and men get the first two beers free – the one ladies night where the guy doesn’t have to feel like the designated driver.
XUAN – Andaz Shanghai, 1/F, 88 Songshan Lu, near Taicang Lu (嵩山路88号上海安达仕酒店1楼, 近太仓路). Tel: (0)21-2310-1700. Hours: 11am-late.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].