Shanghai Bar Review: The Artist Bar & Bistro

By Cristina Ng, December 4, 2018

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Huan Yu Hui, a new and shiny outdoor plaza next to the LuOne mall on Madang Lu, is where you’ll find The Artist Bar & Bistro.  We don’t typically expect good cocktails in malls, but the speakeasy-style joint is generating buzz among locals. So did curiosity kill the cat this time? Read on, friends, read on. 

The Artist is a new project by Nick Wu, a mainstay of Taiwan’s cocktail scene. While his Bar Mood in Taipei is all chic and minimalist, The Artist has a classical European charm with portraits hanging on its wall, and a mannequin in a formal kilt getup presiding over an expensive selection of whiskey. Adding to the authenticity is a thick cloud of cigar smoke. 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

The menu is a fairly long booklet of James Bond-themed drinks. For example, the 'XXX' (RMB80) is inspired by actress Barbara Bach who portrayed Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me. This mule variation features lemongrass-infused vodka, pink peppercorns, ginger beer, apple vinegar and ginger liquor. We applaud the use of house-made ingredients, but there’s a bit too much going on in this copper mug. 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

In contrast, the White Not Why Not (RMB90) cocktail is an homage to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond that flavors rum with Chinese pu’er tea to great effect. Bold spices from the Sailor Jerry are tempered by fresh mint and sweet tea syrup. Off menu drinks are also well made, so don’t be afraid to put in special orders.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

When asked about his signature drink, Wu offered up a Vesper (RMB100) and we fell hard for this masterful mix of Ki No Bi gin, Ketel One vodka, Cocchi Americano and Noilly Prat Ambre Vermouth. Forget shaken or stirred, you want it thrown – a dramatic method whereby elegant streams of booze are tossed from vessel to vessel, enhancing aeration and releasing aromas for a silky balance of components.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

The decor might be a bit over the top at The Artist, but the cocktails are the real deal. They also plan to host guest bartenders going forward. In fact, Sam Kuan (of Barules) was behind the bar on a recent visit, and we hear Tokyo’s legendary Hidetsugu Ueno (Wu’s mentor) is coming to town soon. 

[Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's]

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