Sip on Ants & Silkworms at Sustainably-Focused Bar Dentree

By Sophie Steiner, January 28, 2023

0 0

The Place 

Sustainability pervades every aspect of Shanghai’s newest cocktail bar Dentree.

It is a planet-conscious powerhouse of a venue that brings together Rémy Cointreau – an alcohol brand that helps lead the world globally in sustainable practices; Hope & Sesame – one of China’s premier cocktail teams that regularly secures a spot on lists like Asia’s 50 Best Bars and the like for their inventive use of ingredients and techniques to create memorable libations... 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

... Muse Group (The Nest, The Cannery) on the execution and operation side; and Oha Design fitting out the space with sustainably-focused décor.

All this in Egg 2’s old digs in Anken Air, a development off of Zhenning Lu that is recognized for sharing the same ethos as the rest of the team with its holistic approach to sustainability. 

It’s Captain Planet’s all-star team. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

From repurposed glassware and upcycled furniture to the community rooftop garden for drink and snack foraged garnishes; from utilizing only second-hand kitchen equipment to including their very own Head of Sustainability on the payroll, there’s a whole lot of forward-thinking, eco-friendly-focused and energy efficient practices coming at you from all angles. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

You can sleep easier at night knowing you’re sipping RMB100+ cocktails and snacking on bugs and brains for the betterment of Mother Earth. 

The Drinks & Food

The 14 signature cocktails are divided into flavor and style color coded abstract categories – forward, adaptogens, hybrid, super food – plus highballs and classics.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Think single origin this, locally-sourced that and a smattering of underutilized proteins, all done up with imaginative ingredients – exactly what we would expect from Hope & Sesame, a group known for possibly the most theatric cocktails China has ever seen. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Smoky Yunnan ant-infused mezcal and grassy-flavored, unroasted green coffee-infused tequila act as the base in Suenos (RMB98), a refreshingly tart play on a margarita served in a hollowed-out coconut.

Instead of citrus, the cocktail’s predominant sourness comes from a beetroot and pomegranate cordial, the leftover juice being made into a squishy gummy side snack.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Cognac, a forgotten spirit that isn’t used in most modern cocktails – especially highballs – is at the forefront of the Pip Hyball (RMB128), a meta cocktail journey in a glass.

Rémy Martin V.S.O.P is redistilled or ‘time-reversed,’ thus removing the oaky flavors that come from aging it and leaving you with a higher ABV, fresher cognac that is mixed with a bubbly Ugni Blanc wine soda and pear eau-de-vie. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The remaining non-alcoholic distillate is lengthened by tea and infused with a homemade umami powder made from leftover dehydrated onion and garlic skin and mushroom stems. It’s poured into a shot glass-shaped ice cube that sits atop the time-reversed cognac.

As the ice glass melts, the drink composition changes and the time reversal seeps back in to the cognac in a process we can only assume is known as “cocktail inception.”

DSC06418.jpgCome What May (RMB98), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A play on the classic sherry-forward bamboo cocktail, the Adjusted Bamboo (RMB108) reminds us moreso of a much classier way to take a jello shot.

A locally-produced fermented rice wine is mixed with a thought-inducing roster of turmeric-infused fino sherry, dry vermouth and Fernet Hunter Granit that makes for a Negroni-esque lingering bitterness.

And – get this – herbaceous cordyceps (a mushroom fungus) and silkworms are thrown into the mix for added nutritional benefit. 

DSC06351.jpgSuper Gimlet (RMB108), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A bridge to the food menu, the Banana Bread Wine (RMB118) is a slightly effervescent blend of Metaxa brandy, banana juice, coconut water, cinnamon and carbonated maple syrup, all topped with banana skin bacon studded with sticky honeysuckle caramel silkworms in place of the candied pecans you’d so lovingly stir into a banana bread dough. 

There are also some equally out-there bar bites, designed by The Muse Group chef Conrad Van Den Heever, who follows the philosophy: “If it’s something that others would throw away, we want to feature it on our menu.”

Although a Southeast Asian and Yunnan thread weave their way through the majority of these underemployed ingredient-centric snacks, many also pay homage to Chef Conrad’s South African roots – not in their entirety, but through the use of a specific spice, an aspect of a traditional dish or inspiration from a childhood food-related memory.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Chef Conrad’s favorite on the menu, and his pre-gym protein fix, the curry powder-spiced Crispy Bamboo Worms (RMB58) from Yunnan set the tone for what to expect – seemingly unlikely ingredient choices that mimic common bar snacks in a ‘greener’ way.

Instead of the customary chili-fried peanuts or crisps you may munch on with your cocktail, why not make it the Cheeto Puff-textured silk worm instead? 

Read More: A Bugs Life? Meet the Woman Who Wants You to Eat Creepy Crawlers

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Free-range New Zealand Venison Heart Tartare (RMB78) has its natural iron-forward minerality balanced by a sweet cherry blossom jelly and aquafaba mayonnaise. Sweet potato crisps add both a textural crunch and a hint of bitter pungency from a dusting of North African ras el hanout spice. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Less popular pork parts take center stage twice in the Odd Bites section of the menu, first with Sichuan peppercorn dry-rubbed Crispy Pig Tails (RMB78) drizzled in ginger honey and sesame; and next with über velvety Pigs Brain Fritters (RMB58) – a dunk of piquant Malaysian-style sambal aioli and a gasp of lime cutting through the creamy richness. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Chef Conrad’s take on a Thai chili coconut soup encompasses all of the addictingly necessary components of spice, sour, sweet and creamy, but of course kicks it up a notch with chicken cockscomb – that fleshy crest on the tip of a chicken’s head – in the Cockscomb Tom Kha Gai Soup (RMB128)

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

After dabbling with the cockscomb barbecued, roasted and baked, the springy texture translated best to soup form – reminiscent of gummy rice cakes in a bubbling pot of Korean stew. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The most substantial of the lot, the Beef Tongue & Cheese Sarnie (RMB88) is a play on the classic Reuben, with week-long brined beef tongue, 30-day fermented sauerkraut, a Rémy Martin cognac and onion jam and smoked cheddar stacked on toasted sourdough – a 10/10 sandwich with deli fixings as reliable as Venus William’s backhand.


Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

But this is just the beginning. 

“Expect something wilder,” says Chef Conrad, when referring to the next menu round while munching a handful of fried silkworms.

“Right now, we are building trust with our guests as they dip their toe into our unprecedented ingredient list – so that they are more prepared to take the deep dive with us into the ‘underworld’ of waste-reducing recipes in the future.”

The Vibe 

The front room – known as The Archive – showcases rare ingredients used in the cocktails, equipment straight out of science class to produce said cocktails and many of the unique spirits featured in the libations. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It’s a holistic test lab of sorts that will house master classes on anything from flavors and techniques to extract them, alcohol spirit features and how their distilleries are improving their practices to be more sustainable, as well as overall health and well-being lectures targeted at those working in the F&B industry.     

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The wood-checkered paneled bar, plus the bottom-up illumination on the bar back are the focal point of the main space, with a semi-private, brightly lit rounded room on the left for groups.

As the weather warms, the shaded outdoor seating will only add to the venue’s allure, attracting a daytime crowd for expanded breakfast and lunch offerings – especially for those that work in and around Anken Air – but with a more customary lineup of ingredients.  

At its core, Dentree is a cocktail bar. But for those who look closer, it’s also – quite possibly – Shanghai’s most sustainable, visionary and resourceful food and beverage industry venue yet.

Price: RMB150-350
Who’s Going: Sustainably-focused consumers, cocktail fanatics, those living or working by Anken Air 
Good For: Adventurous snacks and sips, underutilized protein consumption, drinking in the name of Mother Earth

Dentree, Anken Air, #1, 465 Zhenning Lu, by Xinzha Lu 镇宁路465弄1号楼, 近新闸路

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

more news

50 Restaurants Receive Stars in the 2023 Shanghai Michelin Guide

See which restaurants fared the best and earned stars in the 2023 Shanghai Michelin Guide.

A-Z Rating of Shanghai's Newest Wine Bars: Part III

How many sips does it take to get to the center of the... ?

47 Restaurants Receive Stars in the 2022 Shanghai Michelin Guide

See which restaurants fared the best and earned stars in the 2022 Shanghai Michelin Guide.

A-Z Rating of Shanghai's Newest Wine Bars: Part II

How many sips does it take to get to the center of the... ?

New Shanghai Bars and Restaurants: February 2020

Here are all the new restaurant and bar openings we featured in our February 2020 magazine issue.

New Shanghai Bars and Restaurants: January 2020

Here are all the new restaurant and bar openings we featured in our January 2020 magazine issue.

New Shanghai Bars and Restaurants: April 2019

Here are all the new restaurant and bar openings we featured in our April 2019 magazine issue.

New Shanghai Bars and Restaurants: December 2019

Here are all the new restaurant and bar openings we featured in our December 2019 magazine issue.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives