Shanghai Bar Review: Suzu Bar

By Cristina Ng, April 2, 2019

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Hidden away from the dive bars lining Changshu Lu is Suzu Bar, an intimate space that feels worlds away from the glare of the outside world. Ginza native Toshiya Suzuki, who worked as bar manager for famed bartender Takao Mori, is behind the menu of strong drinks. 

This project is from the people behind Bar Alcocase, who wanted to present a Japanese-style bar for a more mature crowd. That’s what started their trips to Japan, where they met Suzu and eventually brought him onboard. It took a fair bit of persuasion, and they even had to help Suzu apply for his first passport, but this is a determined bunch. They rebounded pretty quickly from the failure of their first venue Madara (due to licensing issues), and went on to open two other bars in Shanghai.

Consisting of a short bar and limited lounge area, this laidback den of quality cocktails makes us selfishly consider keeping it to ourselves, but judging from the full house of sophisticated locals enjoying touches like warm towels and welcome cups of hot dashi-based soup, the cat’s already out of the bag. 

This brand of thoughtfulness and attention to detail doesn’t come cheap, as most drinks are priced above RMB100. Divided by spirit base, the majority of the offerings are classics prepared to the T, although Suzu shows off his creativity on a separate list of 12 signature beverages. 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

QCxQC (RMB118) is a drink that demonstrates Suzu’s skills and consideration. When his boss, QC, complained about losing hair, Suzu created this boozy tonic with kombu and wasabi (both ingredients are believed to be helpful in promoting hair growth) for him. Weird description aside, this warm savory drink with a shiso-infused shochu base is both delicious and comforting.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Follow that up with a Tiramisu Flip (RMB138), which sees shochu, dark rum, espresso, mascarpone and Advoccat mixed into a creamy dessert-like tipple topped with cocoa. We promise this two-course beverage order will give new meaning to the phrase ‘liquid dinner.’

Another memorable choice, Papa Syndrome (RMB128) is a bewitchingly subtle mix of gin, pear, lychee, lime and elderflower. In addition to his unique creations, Suzu shows mastery of more basic recipes such as Sidecars (RMB128, Hennessy VSOP, Cointreau, fresh lemon) or Gin Martinis (RMB128/Roku, RMB100/Gordon’s).

But are the drinks worth the price? When it comes to the wilder side of the list, it’s a definite yes, as long as we can sit at the bar and chat up Suzu, who manages to convey warmth while churning out orders with entrancing precision. Pro tip: make a reservation, because the lounge seats are not very comfortable.

[Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's]

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