Shanghai Bar Review: Ars & Delecto

By Cristina Ng, August 29, 2018

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You’re strolling down Jinxian Lu when the urge for a beautifully crafted cocktail hits. Lady Luck, or perhaps ‘the green fairy’, is on your side as the group behind Tokyo’s Bar Trench (no. 16 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars) has just opened Ars & Delecto. This vintage café-style watering hole, located in Citizen Café’s former home, stocks a wide range of products from the award-winning KA VA LAN Taiwan-made single malt whiskey to absinthe that they serve in a drip.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

The double-sided drinks list is one part homage to cocktail making traditions and one part playful exploration. The classic cocktails portion of the menu reads like a Drunk History textbook, while the signatures feature ingredients from around the world, and are given quirky names like Travelers Ship and Going to Acapulco.

Both the bold, boozy New Orleans Vieux Carré (RMB100) and the Travelers Ship (RMB120) include a perfectly transparent house-made ice cube. While both are smooth sipping, ingredients such as house-infused gin and fennel shrub make the latter’s price tag easier to swallow.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Same goes for Oh Henry (RMB90), a tall mix of blended scotch, Benedictine, house ginger cordial, lemon, soda and bitters. After carefully measuring and stirring, the bartender pours sparkling water with precision, preserving bubbles in a ritual evocative of a tea ceremony. 

Other modern classics include the Espresso Rum Martini (RMB90), which tempers dark rum with coffee and orgeat and a perfectly foamy Whiskey Sour (RMB90). Other favorites include the Blueberry Hill (RMB105), which blends rum, dry sherry, blueberries, lemon, Angostura bitters and mascarpone cheese for a layered take on English tea.

201808/DSC07278.jpgMezcal Milk Punch (RMB100) is clear like water, but big on flavor. Image by Cristina Ng/That's

After heavy sampling, we can’t deny that the drinks are enjoyable. Too often drinks of this caliber are hidden in overdone speakeasies, so the neighborhood bar vibe is immensely appealing. The only thing holding us back from more regular visits is the price.

[Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's]

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