The good, the bad and the ugly. The weird and the wacky. As is the That’s tradition, we’ve compiled our 2019 China Year in Review series. So sit back, relax and relive the highs and lows of the last 12 months.
It’s a cutthroat business running a boozy establishment in Shenzhen. However, this year proved that China’s craving for bougie cocktails and craft beers won’t be declining anytime soon. A host of new bars made their appearance this year, each one striving to make a difference with an unique concept and menu. But who are the newcomers that really left a mark in Shenzhen’s this year? Below, in no particular order, we share our favorite bars to debut in Shenzhen in 2019:
Image via Craft Head Tap House
Ask Shenzheners what made Craft Head’s Shuiwei venue special and you will hear different answers: the staff were friendly, the drinks were cheap, the vibe was fun. While all of these still hold true, our impression of the bar was of an unpretentious venue eager to connect with customers and to experiment with food. Their new spot is again in the heart of one of Futian’s urban villages, Xinzhou, and sees the foursome behind Craft Head settled into a spacious walk-up, featuring lovely indoor and outdoor seating, above a variety of Chinese-style restaurants.
Who’s going: craft beer lovers, fusion fanatics
Good for: Chinese fusion snacks, cheap evenings out
Nearest metro: Shawei (Exit D), 5 minutes’ walk
Image by Bryan Grogan/That’s
On certain days, Upperhills Shopping Mall can seem like a ghost town. While trendy shops and F&B outlets have already opened at the relatively new development near Lianhua Bei Metro Station, a large portion of the outlets have yet to see the light of day.
One of the venues opened this year, tap house and restaurant Goon Goon by Young Master, sits in the shadow of WeWork’s new Upperhills loft, near Lianhuashan pedestrian bridge, and is the perfect location for a nice cold brew after a weekend stroll.
Who’s going: craft brew-dogs, homesick Hong Kongers
Good for: well-crafted beers, delicious fast food
Nearest metro: Lianhua Bei (Exit A2), 10 minutes’ walk
Image courtesy of Alcove
Although the Michelin Guide hasn’t yet landed in Shenzhen, you can now experience that level of fine dining at Alcove, a bar spanning two levels on the top floor of the Futian Shangri-La. Alcove is attached to its sister restaurant Ensue, a farm-to-table concept headed by Christopher Kostow, the executive chef of a three-Michelin star restaurant in California’s Napa Valley.
Who’s going: glamorous globetrotters, cocktail lovers
Good for: sophisticated cocktails, amazing views, penthouse vibes
Nearest metro: Futian Station (Exit 4A), 9 minutes’ walk
4. La Boca
Image via La Boca
This being a bar, we tucked into La Boca’s drinks menu first. The ‘Mano a Mano’ (RMB98) is a delicious combination of rum, slow-cooked pineapple and lemon zest. While the fruity nature of the drink led us to expect something sour and overpowering, we were pleased to find that the beverage was creamy and easy on the palate.
Who’s going: folks with Latin fever, expats from South America
Good for: tequila cocktails, live music
Nearest metro: Qiaochengdong (Exit A), 15 minutes’ walk
5. Taps Taproom
Image by Luis Campos for That’s
Located on the Shekou peninsula, Taps Taproom is the newest Taps Craft Beer establishment in the area. Far from the chaos of Coco Park and not too close to the expat haven known as Sea World, the taproom sits in the quiet, residential Wanxia area – where you are more likely to encounter parents than parties.
Who’s going: craft beer enthusiasts, friendly dogs
Good for: fancy suds, showing off your ‘hop’ knowledge
Nearest metro: Wanxia (Exit A), 5 minutes walk
6. Long Bar
Image via Raffles Hotel
Take the lift up to the 71st floor and once the elevator doors glide open, you’re whisked into what feels like a James Bond (think Skyfall) movie. Raffles Hotel’s iconic Long Bar has opened its doors in Shenzhen, and this two-story bar will not disappoint with its 270-degree panoramic views of the city. During the day, take in these spectacular views while enjoying traditional afternoon high tea treats paired with champagne. If you’re coming for drinks, we’d suggest making sure to catch the live band, which starts around 9pm.
Who’s going: romantics looking to splurge, cocktail connoisseurs
Good for: classy beverages, swanky ambiance
Nearest metro: Dengliang (Exit A), 10 minutes’ walk
7. Bar Ink
Image via Bar Ink
Tucked in a corner building overlooking a small grassy field, Bar Ink is one of the latest F&B additions to Shenzhen’s hipster enclave, OCT Loft. The tattoo themed bar and restaurant was dreamed up by the owners of Lotus Ink, one of the city’s most acclaimed tattoo studios. Bar Ink’s menu boasts an array of Western dishes, which chef Eli Gregory tells us are a fusion between Spanish and French cuisines. Ordering a drink proves to be a unique experience. Reflecting the arty theme, Bar Ink’s cocktail menu is arranged not by liquor but by color, with a selection of both classic and creative drinks.
Who’s going: tattoo lovers, hipsters and fine food fans
Good for: elevated food and drinks in an artsy but homey space
Nearest metro: Qiaocheng North Station (Exit B), 10 minutes’ walk
Image via Re-C Whisky & Cocktail Bar
Life in Futian district can be hectic at the best of times. While the central business district may be better known for high blood pressure than mellow vibes, Re-C, a brand-spanking new cocktail and whisky bar, aims to change that perception.
Who’s going: dates (the romantic kind, not the fruit), cigar snobs, spirit lovers
Good for: absinthe-infused cocktails, escaping springtime showers
Nearest metro: Convention & Exhibition Center (Exit B), 7 minutes’ walk
For more 2019 Year in Review coverage, click here.
[Cover image via Bar Ink, Alcove, Bryan Grogan/That’s, Craft Head Tap House]