The Stars Align at New Astrology-Focused Cocktail Lounge Zodiac

By Sophie Steiner, April 9, 2021

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The Place 

Serial bar opener and mixologist Geo Valdivieso (UnicoUpThe Captain,The Broken Dagger, Klay) is firing on all cylinders with the opening of his newest concept, Zodiac. The menu offers 12 cocktails, each named after a different star sign. A 13th ‘Placebo’ cocktail involves a DIY station where guests can enjoy their five minutes of bartender fame and design their own libation. 

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The U-shaped bar offers both seating and standing room for up to 40 people – creating tiered layers for those who like to move around – and making it more conducive to different kinds of conversations. Tucked in back corners are nooks of varying sizes, so whether its date-level privacy or social interaction you seek, you’ll find both. 

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The lush décor – with crimson red velour walls and plush couches accented by black and varying shades of gray – is one step away from a tarot card reading den, riddled with occult, voodoo-esque symbols plus planet and star motifs throughout. 

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Glancing to the back of the room, we half expected to see a head-scarf adorning gypsy divining the future through her crystal ball, but instead it was just F&B personalities and weekday drinkers, a solid cross section of people who suspect salvation is sometimes found at the bottom of an empty bourbon glass. 

The Drinks 

“The menu is all about sparking conversations,” says Geo. “We are taking the classic first date question ‘What’s your sign?’ to the next level.” Mini horoscopes written by Shanghai’s go-to astrologer Alex Wang accompany each drink’s description, so you can simultaneously learn about your date’s personality alongside his or her flavor preferences. 

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Following grand opening, Alex will be onsite twice a week providing astrological readings based on guests’ natal charts. Our guess is that a bit of a hangover is in store for you in the near future. 

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Like a horoscope written in the stars, the zodiac now predicts your optimal drink selection. A lemon tart served in a golden chalice is the only way to describe the Gemini (RMB110). The addition of Grey Goose Citrus transforms the alliance of melted vanilla ice cream and lemon cream into a veritable ménage à trois of liquid sex. 

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Served in a custom-purpose metal contraption, the Sagittarius (RMB105) sees the combination of Barbados Bumbu rum, Fernet, raw raspberry, cinnamon bark and fresh ginger reduction come together in a treacly spiced gulp that could only have been divined by the stars. 

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If you’re following the trend here, each cocktail’s presentation and serving vessel is just as important as it’s taste. From horn-shaped Taurus goblets to a Libra libation balanced on a scale, fastidious care is paid to each detail.  

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A post-workout breakfast shake meets the world of cocktails in the Scorpio (RMB110). Peanut butter-infused Four Roses bourbon, egg yolk, espresso and port are hit with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and nutmeg, resulting in a thick protein shake-like smoothie that remind us of how badly we need to hit the gym. 

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Inspired by Geo’s Aries-born brother, the cool, calm, and collected persona comes to life in the form of spurting dry-ice fumaroles erupting from the Aries (RMB105). Sous vide cardamom-infused Camus VSOP is blended with a reduction of Oolong, Argentinian mate and vanilla, along with a splash of tonic for a light yet full-flavored sip. 

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Although complex in preparation, no ingredient is superfluous. Every step only serves to make a better drink. 

The DIY station acts as Zodiac’s biggest draw. Guests can hop behind the bar, select their base alcohol and pull from astrological inspiration to combine reductions, tinctures, garnishes and spices for their own Placebo (RMB180) cocktail creation. Projected on the screen behind them are living constellation-related digital images that bring the wall-adorning pieces of work to life.

The cocktails flow freely, as time (and space) lose all meaning. 

The Vibe 

Collaborating on the design front, hcreates brings together the layout and aesthetics of the interior design, while The Orange Blowfish covered nearly every inch of wall space with Baroque and Victorian period pieces painted over with contemporary symbols. 

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Vermeer’s Girl with A Pearl Earring lounges on a couch with a bottle of Moet, Sir Frederic Leighton’s Flaming June naps with Maneki-nekos, while other fleshy, curvy forms flaunt Louis Vuitton bags or are covered in modern-day tattoos, cigarette and cell phone in hand. 

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These juxtaposing, satirical twists exemplify the overall feel of the space – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. When guests are allowed to play bartender, breaking the mixologist fourth wall; when drinks arrive in gimmicky vessels with overtly playful components; when cocktail choices are made based on birth charts and star alignment rather than ingredients, it’s all just fun and games. 

The most serious part of the whole operation is how mind-blowingly ambrosial the cocktails are – but from mastermind Geo, we’d expect nothing less. 

Price: RMB100-300
Who’s Going: Cocktail connoisseurs, astrology fanatics, the late-night in-the-know crowd
Good For: Tipsy date nights, post-dinner libations, nightcaps


See a listing for Zodiac.

Read more Shanghai Bar Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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