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Gin & Juice Wants To Be Shanghai's Temple to the GnT

With my mind on my tonic and my tonic on my mind.
2020-10-22 12:00:00
Photos: Brandon McGhee
On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places we find interesting. Sometimes we stumble upon these places, and sometimes we are invited, but in both cases, we are never paid to write an opinion, rather, these are our honest first impressions, and not a formal review.

Gin & Juice


Quick Take: A small cocktail bar that pushes premium gins and tonics but absolutely doesn't ignore the rest of the menu.

What It Is: More activity in the burgeoning Shankang Li development, but this is its first dedicated cocktail bar. It's small-ish, a little drab, but efficient. This place is designed for two things: gin, and things you mix with gin. Mostly tonic, but as the name suggests, also other things.

Some interesting signatures courtesy of an ex-Candor bartender, like a fancified Gin & Juice — Beefeater, basil, passion fruit, citrus and coconut milk, clarified — and a classic Clover Club with the egg white swapped for protein-rich aquafaba to great effect.

But yeah, gee en tees. An entire page of the two-page menu is dedicated to tiered gin and tonic options; no added frills, just gin (standard Beefeater and Bombay, 58rmb; Crimson Pangolin, Citadelle, 68rmb; Peddlers, Hendrick's, Four Pillars, 78rmb; Sipsmith, Roku, 88rmb; top shelf, 98rmb+) and then tonic (standard Tall Brothers, or "premium mixers" like East Imperial, Fever-Tree, Le Tribute, Pao Yuzu, etc. for an additional 35rmb). They have twice as many gins as I've listed here.

They didn't play any Snoop Dogg while I was there.

Not even the most expensive option: Roku & Le Tribute, 123rmb

First Impressions: Mixed Roku gin with Le Tribute tonic — made by a Spanish gin distillers, which I'd never had before and enjoyed because it comes in a bottle that looks like a 19th century cure for the consumption — and... I mean, it was good? Of course it was good. Not all gin and tonics are made equal, but I know few people who'd pay over 60rmb for a gin-and-tonic and I don't know anyone who'd pay 120rmb. I imagine they're the sort of people that insist on being served a distinctive, unusual stemmed glass so they can broadcast the premiuminality of their drink to the other side of the bar.

A regular gin and tonic, 58rmb/40rmb on happy hour

But don't let the absurdity of that top-flight gin and tonic combo blind you: Gin & Juice serves really quite excellent drinks in the mostly forgivable 68-78rmb range. Hope that isn't just soft-opening prices: I've had drinks at bars that charge significantly more that weren't as good as the Clover Club I had here for 68rmb. Go during happy hour and you can get a solid Beefeater and tonic (in a stem glass, ooh!) for like 40rmb before dinner in Shankang Li.

Worth a visit if you're a fan of the juniper and waters.

Gin & Juice is located in Shankang Courtyard at 358 Kangding Lu, near Shaanxi Bei Lu / 康定路358号, 近陕西北路.