Shenzhen Bar Review: The Key

By Bryan Grogan, March 15, 2019

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A lot of the time we are required to preserve balance for balance’s sake in these reviews. In a rare turn of good fortune, however, we recently stumbled across The Key, a new cocktail bar located in the quiet streets behind Shopping Park that we can say without reservation is one of our favorite new bars of 2019. 

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Image via The Key

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Image via The Key

The Key was opened in collaboration with the folks behind Haploid, a speakeasy that took home the Best New Bar Award at our 2017 Food and Drink Awards. Like Haploid, The Key is keenly focused on creativity and cocktail craftsmanship. One local bar owner confided in us that the hospitality and presentation at the new bar ensure that The Key will swiftly rise to reside amongst the best outlets in Shenzhen.

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Image by Jonathan Zhong/That's

We began our evening with their Queen Victoria Sling (RMB118). The British reference in the name is homage to the Beefeater Gin used to make the fruity, smoothie-based cocktail. A variation on the classic Singapore sling, this drink comes topped with a bite-sized fruity Macedonia complete with dragonfruit, candies and sugared fruits like mango and cherry. 

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Image via The Key

In terms of bar snacks, The Key offers a range of seafood and tasty treats. We decided to chow down on the scallops (RMB68). This dish is beautifully presented, the plate decorated with pesto and tiny carrots and the scallops practically explode in your mouth upon biting down. 

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Image by Jonathan Zhong/That's

To finish the evening, we ordered the Topsy Turvy (RMB108), an intriguing mixture made with stout syrup, oyster milk, gin, fernet branca and coffee leaves chinato. This drink comes with a seaweed flourish around the stem of the glass, as well as a milk biscuit. While that may sound quite complex, the appearance of the glass is almost austere compared to other drinks on the menu. The concoction itself is a layered experience, with different flavors rising to meet our tongues from sip to sip, with the stout and coffee leaves very much in evidence. 

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Image by Jonathan Zhong/That's

Whether it’s the drinks and food presentation, the friendly service, their funky, ambient music or the bar’s commitment to reusable straws (bamboo, metal and compressed apple), the level of thought and focus that has gone into The Key makes the bar an experience you’ll want to have again and again.

Price: RMB150-250
Who’s going: cocktail connoisseurs, intimate couples

Good for: long chats, date nights, quality food and drinks
Nearest metro: Shopping Park (Exit G), 10 minutes’walk

Open daily, 8pm-2am; see listing for The Key

[Cover image via The Key]

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