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A sip of class and skill in Asia’s top-ranked bars
2016-02-29

This year, Drinks International will publish its first regional spin-off of the World’s 50 Best Bars, with the launch of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. A poll of Asia’s top bar experts, Asia’s 50 Best Bars will be published on worlds50bestbars.com and distributed with the April issue of Drinks International magazine.

Bar professionals from almost 20 Asian countries are invited to take part in voting.


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Ahead of the announcement of their first Asia’s 50 Best Bars ranking on March 31, Drinks International has revealed some of the bars that will make up the 2016 list.


The world’s top bars 28 Hong Kong Street, Manhattan, Jigger & Pony and Sugarhall from the regional cocktail hub Singapore are named on the list, as was expected.


For Shanghai, there are some good news, too, as Constellation I, Speak Low and Union Trading Company have been confirmed as having made the cut.

Yoyo He and Zhang Yang toured the three bars to find out why they deserve to be in the ranking.


Union Trading Company


It is a neighborhood-style cocktail bar located in the former French concession area in town. The cocktails here span from the golden age of bartending when drinking was a necessity, to current innovative concoctions using modern techniques and sensibilities.



The bar sticks to a seasonal rotational menu schedule with a menu that changes every three to four months. At the end of the day, the staff tries to connect with people through drinks and food, as the name of the bar suggests.


“We are not fancy or prestigious, but we are able to provide a unique product through connections between our bartenders and our guests. I think that is why we get on the list,” Yao Lu, co-owner of the Union Trading Co, said. “We provide very simple things, great drinks, great food and great conversation, and I think those things resonates with people.”


Apart from seasonal cocktails, the bar also serves delicious small plates inspired by classic bar food. “All the people you see working here are the exact same people who built this bar with us two years ago when we started this project, everyone works in sync and all have a desire to provide hospitality,” Lu says.


Lu says that he was humbled to have made the cut and thanked the experts who voted for Union Trading Company. “It only means we have to work extra hard to continuously prove we are worth their trust.”


Speak Low

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Although opened less than two years ago, it made Drinks International’s list of top 50 bars in Asia. Located inside a garden house with four floors, it actually has three distinct bars in one building with American decor of the 1920s. It has attracted bartenders from around the world and has a penchant for jazz. There’s even a tiny shop selling bartender tools and equipment.


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This venue is owned by mixologist Shingo Gokan and named after the cocktail he used to win the Bacardi Global Legacy Cocktail Competition. Behind a bookcase in a shop selling bartending equipment is the main entrance to the first bar on the second floor.


Constellation I

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Located on Xinle Road, it is a place that transports you to a different place and time the moment you walk in. It has an extensive drink list with all kinds of whiskeys served by professional bartenders. This dim, rectangular bar is frequented by patrons who like its atmosphere, prices and service. Constellation now has four outlets in the city.


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Top cocktail creation by Shanghai bartender

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Great bartenders don’t just know how to recreate the classics, but come up with new drinks of their own that are so popular they make it onto the drinks menus of other bars. “Tiki Time,” created by Shanghai bartender David Hong, is one such example.

Using Bacardi superior rum as alcoholic base, Hong adds lemongrass lime juice, coconut cream, angostura and soda to boost its fresh flavor and aroma.


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It’s served at some of Asia’s top 50 bars — 28 Hong Kong, which topped the list in 2016, Manhattan, Jigger & Pony, D. Bespoke, Sugarhall and Anti:Dote, all located in Singapore, and Janes & Hooch in Beijing. 28 Hong Kong and Manhattan also made it on the world’s top 50 bars list.

If you itch for a taste of the refreshing drink, there’s no need to board a flight to the lion city.


“Tiki Time” is also available in Shanghai, at E.P.I.C on Gaoyou Road, The Public on Xiangyang Road S. and the U Way on Xizang Road S.

Creator Hong was the first Chinese bartender who was invited to the Paris Cocktail Week as guest bartender a month ago. As one of the only three remaining contestants from Shanghai at the annual Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition, Hong was invited to guest bartend at events around Asia’s and Europe’s top bars, which took him on a more than 40,000-kilometer long journey.



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