Written by James Dineen
Shenzhen. It’s a hell of a city. Everyone is moving so fast and everything is constantly changing. What’s the talk of the town one day, can be just one in a dozen by the end of the week. Blink, and you might miss it altogether.
Few businesses are more fickle than the cocktail bar business. Finding a good spot that sticks around can be rarer than a bartender who knows how to make The Commonwealth. Where in the past you had to hitch a ride to Beijing or Shanghai for a good Manhattan or Cosmopolitan, now there are a number of hip joints in Shenzhen where you can find someone who knows how to fix up a drink.
We stirred up an essential guide, shaking out all the pretenders and phonies, to leave you with only the finest mix of cocktail bars in Shenzhen.
- Compass Bar
If you are in search of a touch of class and no small amount of style, then look no further than Compass Bar. Despite being one of the city’s best-kept secrets, it’s also one of Shenzhen’s longest running bars.
Compass Bar is a speakeasy, but there’s no need to go wandering down some back alley or find some novelty façade. All you need is a drop of confidence and a dash of swagger. Head to the Wongtee V Hotel and ask the concierge to send you up to the 40th floor.
There you will find a beautiful wood paneled and leather-seated bar that offers stunning views over the city. Do yourself a favor and order one of the classics such as a Martini, Old Fashioned, or the bartender’s specialty, Negroni. After all, they are classics for a reason.
ADDRESS: 4002, 40F, Huanggang Business Center, 2028 Jintian Rd Fuhua 5th Rd, Futian District (深圳市福田区福华五路皇岗商务中心四十层4002)
They say a change of scenery can do a world of good for one’s spirits and disposition. So too is that equally true of a cocktail bar. Originally in Seaworld, A01 recently relocated to Upper Hills near the most chic hotel in town, Muji.
The relocation has led to something of an evolution. While it’s still a cocktail bar, A01 has broadened its horizons to include an ever-expanding range of the finest gins this side of London. The art deco interior has been as carefully chosen as its drinks menu while there is also outside seating who care to savor those cooler evenings.
ADDRESS: Modern Imbibing, L2-S211 (outdoor area), Lianke Overpass, Upper Hills, Futian, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区深业上城2层户外S211（莲科高架路边)
- Barber Shop / Massage Bar
Nowadays, it seems a bar isn’t worth going in unless you had to spend half an hour searching for it and walking through a shop or restaurant or two to get inside. Speakeasies are all the rage right now in Shenzhen and that’s largely in thanks to Barber Shop and it’s new sister shop Massage Bar.
The layouts of the bars wouldn’t look out of place in Soho Hong Kong or East Village New York, and the bartenders have the drinks to match too. We could tell you exactly how to find these two speakeasies, but then again, finding them by yourself is part of the fun, isn’t it?
ADDRESSES: Massage Bar: 16 Nanhai Dadao, Nanshan District (南山区桃园路1号西海明珠花园119商铺3011) , Barber Shop: No.1035, Shangbu Nanlu, Futian District, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区上步南路1035号)
- Ciao Amici
There are a few places hipper right now to open a cocktail bar than Nanshan, but Ciao Amici has been there mixing cocktails long before anyone else.
With a cocktail menu that is accessible for newcomers and veterans alike, it’s not hard to understand why it’s busy most nights of the week. Head down any evening during the week and you are likely to find workers from the nearby tech offices talking shop over a few drinks on the outside seating or sat inside relaxing after a long day.
ADDRESS: No.06-07, Ground Floor, Building 6, Software Industry Base, Yuehai Street, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China
While most cocktail bars in China fall drunkenly and helplessly in love with whiskey, RMK’s affectations lie a little closer to home. The main ingredient of the bar’s cocktail menu is rice wine.
They say enemies can make the unlikeliest of bedfellows, and it appears that rice wine makes for an irresistible partner for a number of cocktails. The original concept has spread to multiple locations across the city already.
Due to the flavor profile of the spirit, many of the cocktails come out fruit, light, and easy to drink. This has lead RMK to attract a crowd with less hardened drinkers and more young clientele.
ADDRESS: 3093,3rd Floor ,UpperHills, 5001 Huanggang Road, Futian District, Shenzhen (深圳市福田区皇岗路5001号深业上城3楼小镇在地图中查看T3093铺 )
Opening August 18th…Life On Mars
As more and more bars open all around the city, Shenzhen is fast becoming the new cocktail capital of China. One bar in particular that is opening up in August in the trendy OCT Loft area of Nanshan looks set to join our list of essential cocktail bars.
Life On Mars promises modern cocktails made with fresh, seasonal ingredients and utilizing a wide selection of spirits. Rather than focus on a narrow selection of concoctions, it promises to be a bar for the adventurous, for those who want to try something different. Opening August 18th, keep an eye out for Life On Mars if you are in the mood for trying something new.