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[On The Radar]: New Downtown Bars
Cocktailing around Bar Alcocase, Bar Lotus and 1/3 Blossom, with mixed results.
By | Photos Brandon McGhee Sep 12, 2018 Nightlife
A trio of exciting new places to drink 90rmb+ cocktails of varying quality, all a stone's throw from the buzzing Changle x Fumin x Donghu Lu nexus.

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Bar Alcocase


433 Changle Lu, near Xiangyang Bei Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Bar
Quick Take: An ex-UTC bartender presents a low-key and welcoming cocktail-imbibing environment.


What It Is: That intriguing brick-and-glass façade next to the underwhelming Mosso hides a new cocktail bar. Bar Alcocase, a mash-up of the words "alcohol" and "showcase" (explains the confounding glasswork entrance), looks like a Bar Constellation, except cleaner, a bit less worn-in, and set to a soundtrack that would best be described as "Lo-Fi Chillhop Mix January 2018" on YouTube.

Bar

Bar

Behind the bar is Lucky Huang (previously Union Trading Company) serving a double-sided cocktail list of classics–Boulevardier, Hemingway Daiquiri, etc. for 90-95rmb–and bold seasonal specials for 90-100rmb. Lot of strong-sounding flavors on there, definitely reminiscent of UTC's quirkiness; cold brew, balsamico, black pepper, rose syrup, Sichuan peppers.... The Natsubate mixes Talisker and salt water. How punchy!

Bar

Bar

First Impression: Nice spot! Post-office tipple or catch-up with an old friend vibe. Most places with a copper bar-top feel a little stuffy, a little effete. This place doesn't feel that way at all; it feels friendly and welcoming, and the drinks are solid. The Modern Granny (95rmb) and the Real Milkshake (95rmb) maybe had too many ingredients fighting for attention, but the Big Meal (100rmb) and the Six Pence Hotpot (95rmb) manage to balance their clear and spicy tones very well. Welcome to the neighborhood, Alcocase. Please stick around.


Bar Lotus


1/F, 758 Julu Lu, near Fumin Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Bar
Quick Take: Coffee shop by day, cocktail lounge by night, Bar Lotus is a communal, subdued and relaxed environment serving… questionable cocktails.


What It Is: The final piece in the More Than Eat emporium, Bar Lotus is a lovely little coffee shop by day, and by night, opens up the rear doors to reveal a lounge. It's dark and imaginatively laid-out. The front is an inward-facing rectangle of seats, while the back feels like you're drinking in a converted cave-chapel on Santorini (they exist).

Bar

The cocktail menu is impressively, almost pedantically, detailed. There's a rating for sweetness, sourness, alcohol strength, a full list of ingredients, a description of the glass type and a flavor description. For those who hate dropping 100rmb on unknown drinks, they go a long way to easing your mind.

Bar

First Impression: Cool-looking joint! Designed for fashion-conscious, inexperienced but cocktail-curious friends spending a chill evening full of bubbly gossip. The informative cocktail menu is great too–the most informative I've ever seen. I'm in support of that effort.

Bar

Bar

I'm trying to avoid saying that their signature drinks are abysmal. I wasn't sure if there had been some sort of mistake, but the Smoking In Your Eyes (95rmb) and the Like Kissing (95rmb) both tasted like a homeopathic fruit syrup and ash dilution. For 95rmb. Oof. Maybe stick to a Screwdriver or a gin & tonic, or something from a bottle, so you can focus on enjoying the atmosphere and the company.


1/3 Blossom


132 Yanqing Lu, near Huating Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

1.3
Quick Take: Ambitious attempt to make a cocktail bar inspired by perfume.


What It Is: The love-child of a florist and a designer, 1/3 Blossom is an interesting-looking Yanqing Lu cocktail lounge. Sizeable walled-in patio with a trio of round island tables, a four-seater beer counter set into James's Giant Peach directly on the street, and a bar-interior that draws a little from A Clockwork Orange in terms of sculpture and lighting placement, and urban spycraft in terms of curved mirrors on the wall.

1.3

Drinks are presented in order of decreasing price (108rmb on page one, stops at 88rmb). The highlights are the highly-engineered cocktails intended to replicate or evoke various perfumes. Example, the Life Energy (88rmb), made with gin, cardamom and seaweed-infused amontillado, is meant to represent men's fragrance Nautica.

1.3

1.3

First Impression: The design seems conversation-worthy rather than very welcoming, but the outdoors is a genuinely pleasant spot to sit in a quiet neighborhood. The drinks are coming from an interesting place but mostly don't land, which isn't great when the prices certainly seem inspired by the cosmetics industry. The Sailing Day (108rmb), representing Maison Martin Margiela and served in a clay conch shell, tastes like seaweed huffed out of Popeye's cob-pipe. People who like oysters would possibly enjoy it. But the Ce Soir Ou Jamais (108rmb), meant to represent Annick Goutal, is a wonderful tasty fruity thing that comes gift-wrapped. Let's say they get about 1/3 of it right.

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