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[On the Radar]: Ars & Delecto

A nifty little cocktail bar brings some new life to Jinxian Lu.
Aug 1, 2018 | 16:13 Wed
On The Radar: On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places you might like to know about. Sometimes we stumble across these venues and sometimes... we are invited. As such, these are our first impressions and not a formal review.

On The Radar is a weekly SmartShanghai column where we profile new venues that you might like to know about. Here are the facts and our first impressions.


Fancy a drink? How about Ars & Delecto?

Ars & Delecto

222 Jinxian Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu View ListingTaxi Printout


Quick Take: The “art and delight” of coffee and cocktails from regarded Tokyo F&B group, Small Axe. A new player in the high-end cocktails game pulls up a chair.


What Is It:

Assuming the space of sadly departed Citizen Cafe is Ars & Delecto, a cafe-by-day and izakaya-bites-and-proper-cocktails place by night. Opened just under two weeks ago, the venue comes to us from the concerns behind Bar Trench in Shibuya District, Tokyo (number 16 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018) and trades in that textbook Japanese solemn, humble reverence for the ritual of the cocktail — from the service, to the mixing, to the presentation, to the finish. The food and coffee are on the way. The drinks are here now.

The venue is split on two floors with a modernist Euro-damaged cafe sort of thing on the first and a more straight-up bar / lounge on the second. It's simple cafe furniture, an understated white marble bartop, and Toulouse-Lautrec-style fin de siècle prints on the walls. The menu, separated into "Classic" and "Signature" sections, extends the modernist expatriate globe-trotting theme with libations that utilize exotic ingredients, allude to far-flung locations, and reference general themes of explorative travel. There's even something Darwin-conjuring about the bar's name and font.

It's a nice thematic concept that highlights A & D's strengths, in that they are offering a few elements, in ingredients, signature cocktails, and classics wrested from drinking history, that we haven't seen before. Cocktail bars, we've seen our fair share of in Shanghai. Likewise affable European cafes with Campari prints on the walls.

But there's a lot of interesting-ness going on with these drinks here.


"Pineapple Express" - Diplomatico Rum, All Spiced Umeshu Reduction, Fresh Pineapple Juice, Lime, Absinthe, Mint - 105rmb


"Mezcal Milk Punch" - Mezcal, Pear Brandy, Green Tea, Mint, Fat Milk, Lemon - 100rmb


"Oh Henry" - Blended Scotch, Benedictine, House Ginger Cordial, Lemon, Soda, Bitters - 90rmb


"Czeck Inn" - Pear Brandy, Becherovka, Amaretto, Citrus Cordial, Fresh Lemon, Egg White - 100rmb

First Impressions:

Well. I can definitely see a future in which a few of these bartenders will have their shirts off, getting sprayed with motor oil and baby lotion on the cover of Drink Magazine. And deservedly so.

Drinks. Subtly complex. Each an array of ingredients getting pared down into simple, artfully uncluttered cocktails. It's a delicate balancing act with the litany of ingredients they're mixing. I dig it. I also observe and respect that they're not messing around either: mezcal and absinth are all over this menu. So yeah, definitely one for cocktail people to check out — especially for fans of the wonderful, obsessive, genuflecting Japanese church of thought.

Nooooooot cheap though. No sir. Everything is priced between 85rmb and 125rmb. Four drinks, and four red notes just whisked away from the wallet.

Still, slightly cheaper than airfare I guess...

And Also...New Venues for Beer Plus, Chikalicious, and More

Of course, there's tons of other new stuff lately open that we didn't get to. YET. We're watching you...


Just around the corner from A&D is Oro, which is billing itself as a "Tiramisuteca". A tiramisuteca, my lord. Only in Shanghai. (And Italy. Evidently, "tiramisutecas" are in fact a thing.). Looks very stylish Milanese. We'll be by to try out the treats in due course.


Are you a fan of Chikalicous? You should be. They do exceedingly good set-plate desserts. They've opened up a new spot inside REEL.


Are you a fan of beer? You must be. Beer Plus, the bottle shop empire from the Dada corp. are opening a third Beer Plus in People's Square. They're opening August 1 (tonight!) with a buy-one-get-one special all night.


Last but note least. Currify. A new Indian place below the Naked Hub on Nanjing Xi Lu. Early reports: "It's solidly fine."


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