The Showroom: Fantasyland Cocktail Bar & Design Narnia

By Sophie Steiner, January 30, 2022

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The Place

Walk through an Italian furniture store on Jiaozhou Lu, pull back the velour curtains and enter The Showroom – a Narnia fantasy land of vibrantly bold art, textural installations, lingering scents and trance-like beats, all unfolding across a maze of eight different second floor rooms. 

Image courtesy of The Showroom

Co-owned by Richard King – a wine connoisseur with years of F&B experience – Oscar Zuffada – an Italian specializing in F&B and hospitality – and Edoardo Petri – a famous Italian architect focusing on the interplay between design and fashion, the trifecta brings together their areas of expertise to craft a whole better than the sum of its parts. 

WechatIMG90.jpegImage courtesy of The ShowroomANS_6888-copia.jpg
Image courtesy of The Showroom

Image courtesy of The Showroom

ANS_4378-copia.jpgImage courtesy of The Showroom

The winding staircase is lined with surrealist art, leading up to a trio of ‘ass chairs’ – aptly named as they sit exactly in the shape of, well, a sculpted ass, suggestively providing a teaser of what you can expect behind the Showroom’s closed doors.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The space used to house an old hotel, and with zoning laws that prohibit tearing down walls, the new owners were forced to think imaginatively about a semi-divided space with a long corridor down the middle.

Thus, the multi-sensorial room concept was born, presenting Shanghai with an experience it has never had before. And an experience is just what it is. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Unlike your average new bar visit, The Showroom is just as much a bar as it is – as the name suggests – a showroom. All things interior design, art, lighting and architecture come into play, so that as you sip your cocktail inspired by that particular room’s eclectic layout, design and distinct fragrance, you can also scan the menu’s QR code to peruse the furniture on which you sit.

We will take another martini, with a side of teal leather-upholstered Italian Gervasoni armchair. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Like a rat wandering through a maze, visitors stumble upon hidden entrances flush with seemingly solid walls, granting them access to a wine cavern – ready to serve pairing dinners – or to a posh gambling room that makes the stakes known via smoldering gun slashed across the entire southern-facing wall. 

WechatIMG85.jpegImage courtesy of The Showroom

Each room offers up one blank wall for monthly featured artists to showcase their work, keeping the interior fresh and ever-rotating.

Plus, they hope to bring in interactive art exhibitions and fashion shows for private and semi-private events in the future. 

Regardless of the room you choose, you will find yourself in a space that can only be explained as a designer’s hallucination, making it admired amongst art collectors, bar dwellers and Instagrammers alike. 

The Drinks

The current menu highlights 20 libations, eight of which match each particular room. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Starting in the Princepessa Room, the Dark Queen (RMB98) sees a base of Broker's Gin and green Chartreuse accented by lime, yuzu liqueur and sweet crème de cassis.

A fluffy egg white foam is brûléed to mimic the queen’s ruffled frilling of a neckline, while edible flowers pay homage to her floral crown. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Hailing from the Love Poison room, Bite Me (RMB128) is a mix of sweet and savory, with 7-year aged dark rum, vanilla and Creole spice bitters, maple syrup and Cajun powder topped with 4-hour dried Italian coppa tuille and a green olive.

Bold in both flavor and ABV, this beverage has bite. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Aged in a coconut for 15 days, the Coconut Negroni (RMB98) pairs Broker's Gin, Italian vermouth and coconut bitters for a tropical play on the classic.  

DSC07852.jpgBasil Smash (RMB78), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Don’t Touch My Tralala (RMB78) is an ideal sipper for the Luxury Shit room – a blend of bourbon, passion fruit purée, citrus and mint, with a seductive shmear of black sugar syrup whipped across the glass’ flank.

As for snacks, expect Italian-inspired nibbles – arancini, chicken liver mousse, cold cuts and cheese – with an afternoon tea selection coming soon. 

The Vibe 

Despite feeling like an Alice in Wonderland acid trip, it’s definitely a lounge, not a club. The upbeat funky trance music is low enough to have a conversation, but loud enough to afford privacy. 

Image courtesy of The Showroom

Textural, mood-altering elements – 3D wallpaper with snakes seemingly slithering around you; plush sofas of braided cotton; reflective copper tables; dimly lit mushroom lamps emitting a slow, pulsating glow; pounded aluminum surfaces; glimmering-eyed monkeys observing drinkers from across the room – make you feel like you’re living inside pages penned by Hunter S. Thompson. 

Image courtesy of The Showroom

Drinks aside, a visit to The Showroom is a multi-sensorial stimulating, immersive experience that exposes how humans interact with design, especially when paired with a few equally trippy cocktails. 

Price: RMB80-200

Who’s Going: Artists, interior designers, fashion gurus, wine drinkers, cocktail fans

Good For: Impressing a date, filling your Instagram, copping psychedelics fans

Grand Opening 

The Showroom has been in soft opening for the last few months – adjusting the drinks, music, lighting and layout to make everything absolutely perfect for... drumroll please... their official Grand Opening, a series of events starting February 8. Swing by to see what everyone's been talking about!

See a listing for The Showroom

Read more Shanghai Bar Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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