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[Radar]: Malt Fun

"I love Scotch. Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly..." Fun with whisky and other volatile distillates on Hunan Lu...
2011-08-05 12:51:33
Area: A quaint and quiet, tree-lined stretch of Hunan Lu, just down the street from Lapis Thai, around the corner from Yongfoo Elite. Slightly farther afield is the recently opened Cuivre.

What it is: It's Taiwanese and Shanghainese-owned. It's Japanese-inspired. But, Malt Fun is a bar with a singular purpose: whisky. They've come out of the gates with a comprehensive collection. An iPad menu covers pretty much every major region from the Highlands to the Orkney Islands. You'll find legendary labels like Laphroaig and Lagavulin as well as more avant garde brands like Bruichladdich, who finish their whiskies in various Bordeaux barrels -- very cool. There is also a considerably smaller, albeit solid, selection of Bourbons -- brands like Blanton's, Willett, and Woodford Reserve. You'll find a few Japanese malts like Yamazaki, and even an Irish single malt by Bushmill's. Other spirits start at top shelf and go up to premium. We're talking gins like Hendrick's, vodkas like Grey Goose, and a fair selection of aged rums like Damoiseau. And apparently, the menu is still a work in progress, there are plans to grow the collection substantially. Cocktail-wise, the selection is small and simple, mostly classics like Martinis, Manhattans, High-balls, and the like.

There is a certain set of details you'd come to expect in a place like this. They've got most of them down. Tuxedoed barkeeps handling bottles like Fabergé eggs, pouring the contents over spheres of ice, and gently stirring 100 times. It's become par for the course. Other touches, however, I'm not completely sold on, like sweet, spongy kaofu as a bar snack (?!). Clearly, someone didn't get the memo: Bar snacks are supposed to be salty and thirst inducing....

Additionally, there is a small and very forgettable food menu. Half of it is deep-fried, the other half is pastas. 'Nuff said...

Atmosphere: They've clearly taken a page out of Constellation and Untouchable's playbooks. With the exception of some mismatched tables and chairs, which they're looking to replace anyway, the design is clean, simple, and tasteful. A standard step-down bar is lined with unique chairs that you can squeeze together like a love seat if you're with a date. Back-lit bottles behind the bar provide almost all of the light for the place. Old school jazz like Billie Holiday dominates air waves. Overall, it's quiet and secluded, just as it should be.

Damage: Management has told me of plans to change the prices, but they didn't specify in which direction. So, for the time being, plan on dropping some coin here. Single malts start around 80 and continue to upwards of 500. And yes, that is for a glass. The average price falls somewhere around 130rmb for a 45ml (1.5oz) pour. The same goes for most Cognacs and Armagnacs. Fortunately, mixed drinks and other spirits seldom exceed 80rmb. For food, you'll pay either 48 or 58. But are you really coming to a place like this to eat? Right. Didn't think so.

Who's going: Neighborhood connoisseurs who don't want to cab it to Constellation, cops seeking graft, and yours truly.