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Photos: Brandon McGhee

[Home Drunk]: How Good Can A Waimai Cocktail Really Be?

We drank a LAIBA Bar in a Bottle six-pack to find out.
By Mar 2, 2020 Nightlife


There are two industries that have benefited from this whole epidemic thing. One is surgical mask producers. The other is delivery services.

As Shanghai's premier drinking establishments are only tentatively coming out of quarantine, we're forced to look to alternatives. Shanghai9 and Bottles XO deliver bottles, DrinKuaidi and AskJerry send my-first-cocktail kits to your door, even Sherpas will tag on booze to an order, but LAIBA's the only one that had the balls to launch a new product series in the middle of an epidemic. "Bar in a Bottle," a collaboration with Peddler's Gin, gets a bunch of bartenders who, let's face it, don't have a lot else to do these days, to put their signature cocktails in little bottles that you just have to pour over ice. What do we even need bars for anymore?

They're selling six-packs (one cocktail from each bar) for 398rmb—whoaw. That comes to what, 66rmb per cocktail? By Shanghai standards, that's a bargain! We're averaging 90rmb in these dark, decadent days. Assuming you can even find somewhere that'll serve you!

By sane, non-Shanghai-syndrome victim standards, that's steep. You don't even get a waistcoat with your drink. How do we justify that, and day drinking in the office? Let's ask the bartenders...

SmSh: Hey bartenders! What would it cost us to have you, the physical you, and your waistcoat, come to our apartment and make us one (1) cocktail during these special, special times?

SHAKE's The 8th

What does Colin Tait want: "Feed me. A proper Scottish chippy style smoked sausage supper with legit 'salt and sauce,' pickled egg on the side and a 1 liter bottle of Irn Bru, followed up with a couple of Yorkie Bars."

What do we get: Shake's "The 8th" is an orgeat, lemon and creme de peche bombshell that I'd recommend you let sit in some ice for a minute. Once the dilution has taken the edge off the drink, it's a chill, sweet and sssssssexy little improved sour.

Is it worth it? I could take him to Hooked, get Irn Bru on Taobao and Yorkies off Amazon, and it would still only be around two red bills. More than worth it for you, Colin!

Colin: "... plus I’ve streamed the life out of everything going so if you could have a word with Disney and get the Mandalorian Season Two brought forward that would be ideal!"

Quit while you're ahead, Tait.

Logan's Punch's PSK Punch

What does Logan Bourse want: "I would show up to make a cocktail at your place the same day you kept a Craig David concert from cancelling."

What do we get: What a sympathetic bartender would serve someone who stumbled in at 2am with highheels in hand and, at a clear loss for better ideas, asked for a vodka cranberry. Instead, cranberry and falernum, which is like a spicy almondy syrup thing they use in froufrou tropical drinks. Bold. Irreverent. Delightful. Plus, it's the only one on this list that used rum instead of gin, and I prefer rum.

Is it worth it? It's good, but I wouldn't cancel a Craig David concert for a thousand cocktails, Logan. No deal.

Union Trading Company's Trans Pacific Express

What does Yao Lu want: "Off the record? (Ed's note: it was on the record!) One million dollars. Honestly, I would love to host house parties. But you're gonna have to bribe your bao'an downstairs to let me in."

What do we get: I dig sriracha in a drink! It's spicy in a more flavorful way than just adding chili infused whatever to your glass. Fruity. Slammable, but sip it slowly so you get the most out of your money, and actually taste the sherry and lemon grass as it mellows.

Is it worth it? At current exchange rates you're saving 6,994,234rmb if you include the half-pack of Zhonghua for the bao'an. Totally!

The Odd Couple's Dangerous Maverick


What does Satoshi Sugiura want: "..."

What do we get: Sounds like guitar solos on an aircraft carrier with F-14s screaming overhead, but tastes like a classy garden party. Cucumber sandwiches. Wooden lawn chairs. Trimmed hedges. Watermelon and basil are a good mix with gin.

Is it worth it? Wouldn't even grace us with an answer. Satoshi don't pick up the phone for chump change. However, his bar is actually open. So we could just physically go there and get a cocktail, which costs... 120rmb. 50% cheaper delivered to my (compound's) door!


Available on the menu are also options from somewhere called... Bayzhing? Behging? Are we pronouncing this right?

Didn't we have an office there before?

The Black Moth's Rose & Earl Grey

What does Peter Kwok want: Nothing. He didn't want anything! He just wanted to be sure the cocktails arrived at our door!

What do we get: It's fragrant but not overbearing, and actually lets the Peddler's Gin (™, ®, ©) make its presence known. Plus, it's rose quinine syrup! Quinine! Primary ingredient in tonic, aka gin's best friend.

Is it worth it? As good as this drink is, it's not worth depriving yourself of Peter Kwok's humble, profound generosity.

El Barrio's London Flux

What does David Connoly want: "You wouldn’t get us to Shanghai for less than the price of a first class return trip to Mexico City."


What do we get: Holy heck, is this what they're drinking up north? I thought it was just erguotou and puddle water, but this is a legitimately excellent cocktail. Don't see Frangelico a lot, it plays really nice with the rest of the ingredients. Give the bottle a good shake so you really froth up that egg white.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. First class tickets to Mexico City cost like 20,000 USD. However, a train ticket to Beijing would only run you 500rmb. Five red ones, and your dignity.


LAIBA has a couple more cocktail options available but I didn't try any more because I need my liver to filter my blood. Arch and E.P.I.C. are coming to the collection soon. You can find their WeChat Mini Program by searching "LAIBA passport". They deliver throughout China.


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