Logan R. Brouse, proprietor and mixologist of Logan’s Punch and Tacolicious, has run bars and clubs in Shanghai for over eight years. In between hangovers, he puts pen to paper in his column for That’s to record his pontifications on the drink industry.
I’ve been called a lot of things. The Ben Affleck of Jing’an, the Drake of Microsoft Word and the ODB of That’s Shanghai, to name a few. I’ve even been called an irrepressible alcoholic, but never Nostradamus. At least not until now. Boom.
Last year, we assembled a panel of Shanghai’s top bar personalities to forecast this year’s bar trends. Now, in the twilight of 2019, it’s time to revisit those predictions and see how things went. Did the things we thought were going to happen, actually happen?
1. The Return of the Small Club
At last year’s round table, Sasha Bondi of Barbarian anticipated a return to smaller lounges and speakeasies. Shanghai did see a boon in these places with both Valpasso and Perch springing to mind. Bondi felt that the time of the big club was ending, and we think he was correct. I will always have a soft spot for places like Mint, Bar Rouge and Taxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx but it does seem the small bar revival is on. I mean, have you ever been to Twinkle? Do you even Twinkle, bro?
2. Draft Cocktails
Another player in our wonderful food and beverage community is Hannah Keirl of Spirits Box, who espoused the glory of draft cocktails. Saying, “You are going to see more and more bars, especially higher volume places, utilizing cocktails on tap. It will also be great for beer bars that want to keep the focus on beer and provide options without stocking a full bar.” This whiskey-wizened writer has seen draft cocktails make an impact in the industry with them being served at places like Daga Brewpub, The Shanghai EDITION and W Shanghai. We’ve messed with them at Tacolicious, and I’ve even covered them in this column.
Geo Valdivieso from UP Shanghai talked about sustainability and the no straw movement. Paper and reusable straws are now common, as is a reduction in single-use coasters. Oha Group now makes rescued lemon jam from bar and kitchen leftovers. They then incorporate the jam into cocktails at Bar No 3, Blackbird and Dead Poet. Even so, there is still way too much wastage in F&B, and I fully believe that we need to be actionable to save the state of the planet. Let’s hope this trend continues in 2020.
4. Mainstream Appreciation of Chinese Spirits
Healer’s Phoebe Han brought up interesting points about Chinese spirits making a big push. As you know, I love me some baijiu, and erguotuo is the special sauce. During the panel, we all agreed that it would take the invention of a cocktail to set baijiu apart as Moscow Mules had for vodka. Sadly, this didn’t happen, and 2019 was not the year of local spirit emergence. I hope this can change in 2020.
5. Low and No ABV
The last point we discussed was a disturbing and gross trend that should be thrown out of Chinese bars like straws and Fernet-drinking Swedes. That is the low and no ABV craze that tried to sweep our fair shores. There’s a place for low alcohol drinks such as Campari or Aperol spritz. We are also behind designated drivers drinking soft drinks, but we have no patience for exorbitantly priced distilled water with pretty labels. It belongs in an iron, not in a cocktail (thanks, Johan).
See more of Logan's columns here.