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[Radar] Long Bar at the Waldorf Astoria

Inspired by the iconic Waldorf Astoria in New York -- and, indeed, also of the Hilton empire -- the Long Bar at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai is a throw-back to both Shanghai's and New York's early 20th century cultural heritage: art deco and jazz. This classy lounge bar boasts one of the largest drinks menus in town (over 500 items) and some of the best whiskey slection in the city. Food menu is populated by fine gastro fare (along with caviar and foie gras), but their oyster bar -- stocked with four kinds at lunch and dinner house -- is the main draw. Music is, of course, jazz, and they host live musicians as well on select evenings. Atmosphere is wealth and sophistication.
2010-08-31 12:08:00
Where is it: The Waldorf Astoria Club is located at 2 on the Bund, just south of the Guangdong Lu / Zhongshan Lu intersection. The entrance is on Zhongshan Lu, just a few meters from the corner. Walk in there, up the stairs into their palatial, neo-classical hotel lobby, and Long Bar is your first door on the left.

You’re actually in the "Waldorf Astoria Club", which is Long Bar, a tea room and lounge called Salon De Ville, a collection of luxury suites (opening September 15), and the future location of the WA's New York fine dining restaurant (headed by the erstwhile chef at the New York WA) and a Chinese fine dining restaurant. Those later two are scheduled to open in late September, early October.

The new tower of the Waldorf Astoria, which is the majority of their rooms, more suites, and even more F&B outlets, will be open to the public at the end of the year.

What it is: The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai, is of the “Waldorf=Astoria Collection” line of hotels, which represent the vanguard of their luxury offerings from Hilton Worldwide. The name, of course, comes from the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York, which Conrad Hilton purchased in 1949. Before Hilton though, the "hyphen" was already a world famous hotel -- one of the first 'hotel as socio-cultural destination' kind of places -- hosting, as one-time residents, people like "Bugsy" Siegel, Herbert Hoover, General Douglas MacArthur, Cole Porter, Marilyn Monroe, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

It's also where Paris Hilton grew up.

And where Al Pacino's character in Scent of a Woman stayed. Hoo-ahh! I'm in tha dawk he-ah, Chahlie!

But we're only going to talk about Long Bar, which is the bar at the Waldorf Astoria Club, which opened on August 18.

Long Bar is a very '30s-ish, jazzy, art deco lounge, replete with deep, serious leathers and deep, serious woods. With a capacity of 80 seats, the space is occupied by clusters of tables, and the centrepiece is their massive bar, which is indeed "long", and measures in at 34 meters. This bar is a recreation of the bar that used to be there when it was called "The Shanghai Club" in 1910. It was, at the time, the longest bar in South East Asia, but it was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. They’ve recreated it from old photographs, which is a nice touch.

Drink: a massive list of over 500 offerings. Bar manager is a Scottish transplant and it shows in their selection of single-malt whiskeys, which hail from around the world -- Scotland, US, Canada, even Japan. The majority of the drinks menu is split up according to alcohol base: ample selections of whiskey, gin, vodka, brandy, and champagne-based cocktails.

An interesting page on that drinks menu is "Cocktails from the Old Waldorf-Astoria", which features a slew of old-timey drinks, of the like (maybe) Lucky Luciano drank: "ZaZa", "Monohan Special", and more.

Food: Food menu is a two-pager, featuring luxury gastro fare -- snacks, lunch, and dinner -- and, most notably, oysters. During lunch and dinner hours they have an oyster bar with four varieties available. I would think this would be the main draw of the food section -- it's their main gimmick, you might say -- but they also have caviar, foie gras, all sorts of expensive things, and of course: THE WALDORF SALAD.

Hoo-ahh!

There's also a Shanghai variation on that famous Waldorf Salad too.

Atmosphere: It could be the just the pedigree that comes with the name, but it feels very cigars and whiskey circa New York prohibition era -- as if perhaps the whiskey is transported into the place via a series of secret pipes, and the tables might flip over and reveal roulette and poker tables.

Damage: Well, let's see. Cocktails are 88rmb, if you're just in for a drink. And if you prefer beer, they have it from all over the place, starting at 58rmb and marching upwards. Bottles are bottles. We don't concern ourselves with bottle folk on this website.

Food is not too expensive if you avoid the caviar. Oysters are orders of three for 88rmb -- and there are four varieties of those. Bring three or four red ones in total minimum, I should think. The Waldorf Salad is 88rmb and the Shanghai Waldorf (with crab meat) is 98rmb.

Whose going: The ghosts of old gangsters, writers, actors, playwrights. Disgraced leaders of the free world and retired military commanders. Cultural historians and aspiring literary luminaries. Starlets. Movie producers. Captains of industry, pillars of the community, voices of capital. Rich people. Fashion people. Bund people.

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