Shenzhen Bar Review: Roots House

By Phoebe Kut, November 4, 2019

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The Place 

Interest in jazz is surging in Shenzhen, and Roots House is the latest addition to the burgeoning scene. Located in the OCT area, the place was a bit hard to locate at night. (Make sure to go down the flight of stairs where your map indicates the venue is located, as Roots isn’t on street level.) 

Image courtesy of Roots House

Roots House is the passion project of jazz fanatic and owner Moss, who is also a native Shenzhener. There’s a custom mural of jazz and blues greats on the wall that immediately catches the eye (Joplin, Charles, Franklin and Armstrong), as well as other curated details and subtle nods to the genre dotted around the room.

The Drinks

What pairs best with the smooth soulful rhythms of jazz? An equally pleasing drink in hand, of course. This spot has an extensive drinks menu, where you’ll find wines, cocktails, Irish whiskeys and all that jazz. 

Image by That’s

To start the night off, we ask for something sweet, and so ‘The Rose’ (RMB98) is first to arrive. The Rose is named after Bette Middler’s namesake single and boy oh boy, is it sweet. Right from the get-go we detect the familiar scent of cinnamon whiskey. Ah, yes. Our old friend, Fireball. The spirit forms the base for the cocktail, and when mixed with a whole ’lotta rose and ginger syrup, the outcome is one of the sweetest beverages we’ve ever tasted – there’s no subtlety here.  

Next, we try the ‘Beijing Workers Stadium’ (RMB108). The actual stadium in reference is a multi-purpose venue that hosts sporting events and concerts (including some jazz ones?). The drink comes with a hawthorn garnish and a red star at the bottom of the glass. Though this cocktail innocently looks like an Aperol Spritz, don’t be fooled: a 96% ABV Polish vodka is the main ingredient. Yes, this one will give you a kick alright.

The Vibe

Image courtesy of Roots House

This jazz bar is what you’d imagine it to be: cozy with an understated elegance. In the corner of the room is the main stage or ‘area’ where live musicians perform. Unfortunately, we visit on a Wednesday night and live performances only happen on the weekends. 

Rich hardwood flooring and dark green upholstery complete this beautiful, intimate space. All in all, we’d come back for the atmosphere and the music but perhaps stick to the white wines and skip the strong cocktails.  

Price: RMB128
Who’s going: those in need of a stiff drink at the end of a long week, the avant garde
Good for: live music, cultural exploration, strong cocktails
Nearest metro: Huaqiaocheng Station (Exit A), 17 minutes’ walk  

Open daily, 2pm-midnight. See listing for Roots House

[Cover image by That’s]

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