Le Moments is a recently opened cocktail bar in Gongti that exceeds all expectations. Run by an ex-Tiki Bungalow bartender (the beloved hutong classic), the place is high-class meets high-kitsch. It’s somewhat hard to find, as the front entrance is only given away by a ‘Cocktails’ sign, but you’ll know you’re in the right place when you enter.
The most notable feature of the main bar area is a giant projector screen that continuously plays Casablanca on repeat. It’s not the most original gimmick, but it sets the right kind of mood for the drinks to come. The rest of the décor becomes less and less comprehensible as you ease into the establishment (it looks as though they’ve taken some sort of prehistoric shark theme). It’s mildly intimidating, but all in all, fun.
Ignore the set dressings and let the drinks speak for themselves. Though, they don’t just speak; they sing. Their specialty cocktails go from strange, like the Cuihua on Cauliflower (RMB85) made with cauliflower milk syrup, to the even stranger Popeye Eats Seaweed, which features vodka, spinach and actual seaweed, but in between there are countless gems. The Movie Theater (RMB90) is a spin on an old fashioned, tweaked with buttery popcorn-infused bourbon, Coca-Cola syrup and garnished with three kernels of caramel-coated popcorn on a swizzle stick. It still tastes like the classic, but with more complexity that makes it wonderfully unique. The same goes for the Savoie Deckard (say it out loud – if you’ve ever been to Thailand you’ll get it) which mixes coconut oil-infused vodka, kaffir lime and pineapple to great effect against some thrilling chili bitters.
Le Moments certainly retains some of Tiki Bungalow’s magic. The Hawaiian Style (RMB85) is a spin on the classic pina colada, complete with a Chinese-style tiki glass and half of a passion fruit lit aflame. Another highlight is the Corpse Reviver #2 (RMB85), a surprisingly delicious blend of gin, lemon, lillet blanc and absinthe. The crown jewel of the collection however is the Crystal Grape (RMB90), one of the most refreshing beverages we’ve ever tried. It’s a simple cocktail: green grape-infused vodka, basil, lemon and soda, but it’s a sensation similar to taking a dip in an ice-cold grape-flavored pool on a hot late-summer day.
Happy hour – RMB20 off all cocktails – runs every day until 10pm. If you get peckish, you can order some incredibly average food from XL Bar next door through a bartender (although something felt off about eating a chicken pot pie while sipping such decadent creations). They also have two private rooms for parties that are overlooked by giant dinosaur skeletons.
By the end, we’re already looking forward to returning to Le Moments – like, again and again until we sample every offer on their deliciously thrilling menu.
[Images via Curtis Dunn for That’s]