With a plethora of cocktail bars popping up all around the city over the past year, with varying degrees of quality, it now takes something great to truly stand out – and survive (RIP all of the bars that died last year). However, we’ve found a gem: Paper Planes.
Located in the basement of an office building just south of Tuanjiehu station, the sleek cocktail joint breaks ground when it comes to ambience and absolutely spot-on cocktails. It’s reminiscent of the underground cocktail bars one might find in ultra-modern cities like Tokyo or New York City. From first glance at the entrance, you’d have no clue such an establishment could be hiding in plain sight, but then open the door... and voila. Welcome to a sophisticated basement sanctuary ready to lift your spirits.
The interior of Paper Planes is luxuriously understated with a huge wooden bar and furniture that doesn’t start the conversation, but stays inviting with each topic change and “one more drink” request.
Sinking into the comfortable atmosphere, we start with the drink that bears the bar’s namesake, the Paper Plane (RMB90), a bourbon whiskey with a refreshing twist. It’s a welcome pick-me-up from the blistering cold outside, though put this drink in a bigger glass with ice on a hot summer’s day and we would be an equally happy camper. Second up is the Pear Blossom (RMB90), which is essentially a fresher version of a gin and tonic, with delicate hints of green tea and chrysanthemum.
We then opt for something more powerful – the Roasted Monkey (RMB95) fits that bill quite perfectly. Smoky, sweet (really sweet), and strong – definitely a sipper rather than a knock-it-back-all-at-once kind of cocktail. For our fourth drink (don’t judge us), we retreat to light and refreshing with Scent of a Woman (RMB90). Based with white vermouth and enhanced with strawberry and peach liqueur, you’d think it’d be too sweet to handle, but that’s where you’re wrong. Shaken and on ice, the drink is airy with hints of sweetness that don’t overpower the palate.
Paper Planes is a hidden gem that soars to new heights in the sheer quality of drinks served and the service provided – catch the bartenders on a good day and don’t be surprised if they ask you to take a shot or two with them. All in all, a quality spot to kickstart your new New Year’s resolution: drinking better, not less (yeah, we just made that up).
[Images via Andrew Braun for That’s]