Pachamama: Mother Earth's Wide World of Fermented Cocktails

By Sophie Steiner, May 29, 2023

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The Place 

Meaning 'Mother Earth' in Kichwa – an indigenous language in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – Pachamama is a revered goddess of the Incan Empire of the Andes – and the inspiration behind this fermentation-focused venue.

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Opened in April on Yanping Lu by co-founder and managing partner Ilyà Khokhlov (The Drinkery) and Max Modesti (GoodFellas), Pachamama is a concept designed to please both the health conscious and cocktail lovers of Shanghai through the wide world of fermentations. 

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They serve up homemade kombucha, tepaches, pickles, hot sauces, and crafted cocktails centered around South American flavors and spirits, plus double-fermented chocolate bars and other Latin America nibbles to pair with lounge-centric drinks. 

The Drinks & Food 

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“We are all about serving and supporting the community that we are a part of,” says Modesti, popping a pickled Hungarian pepper in his mouth with a satisfying crunch – the recipe for which comes from The People’s Pickles, a local pickle supplier whose takeaway pickle jars can be purchased at Pachamama. 

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The menu also sports the likes of empanadas and desserts that are co-branded with Pampa Mia, sliders and sausages by Smoking Hog, Montaditos employing The Good Food People products, pâté by Zoe Da Pâté Lady, reciprocal discounts for MUTE scooter riders... the list goes on. 

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As for the bar, the goal is to achieve as close to zero waste as possible, with only homemade ingredients and syrups utilized – one pineapple will be broken down with the juice used for cocktails, the skin for tepache, and the pulp dried into chips for a garnish. 

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Said garnish finds its place atop the Make Tiki Great Again (RMB78), a mezcal and semi-dry Crisitina sherry blend, shaken with homemade milk oolong tamarind syrup and topped with that smoked paprika-dusted pineapple pulp chip that fits so tastefully into the venue’s philosophy. 

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Despite the beyond reasonable prices – especially for the area – each libation layers complex flavor notes, building upon classics with the team’s own enlivening twist (literally, as kombucha is made up of living organisms, and science is cool). 

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Case in point, the Cuzco Night Out (RMB78) – a basil-infused pisco base, topped with Campari, curry leaf tequila, and clarified tomato.

The result is a gazpacho meets 10 negronis scenario – sharp with a lingering bitter finish. 

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Homemade sea buckthorn jam lends its citrusy sweetness and fiery orange color to the You Dealing? (RMB68), a dill-infused white rum drink pumped up in tartness by homemade grapefruit acid, mellowed by a fluffy egg white foam topper. 

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Your first mouthful of Columbus F*****d Up (RMB68) should be the spoon of tangerine and pink peppercorn granita-like sorbet, followed by a refreshing sup of the orange-forward tequila reposado infused with curry leaf drink, balanced by homemade verbena syrup. 

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The mastermind behind said sorbets is Athos Whang, who leads up the bar team and designs all the desserts on the menu, pulling on his culinary background as a pastry chef at a fine dining establishment in Zhejiang.

Expect funky future flavors like Kashmir curry mango with green cardamom, clove and fennel seed crumble – an Indian lassi acting as the muse for this one.  

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South of the Border meets China with the Inca’s Secret (RMB78), showcasing pisco and homemade chipotle honey from the former; suan mei tang (preserved sour plum) vanilla foam and purple potato powder from the latter. 

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Argentina in a glass, the Papi Gone Loco (RMB78) sees mate tea – the country’s drink of choice in any and all situations – cold-infused into Peruvian pisco, a punchy shot of Fernet Branca Menta and kumquat, finished with a splash of tonic. 

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Pair it with the Argentine Gaucho Empanada (RMB42), and che, you’ll be kicking fùtbols like Maradona before the evening ends.

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The menu also sees some smokin’ sliders, like the Pulled Beef (RMB48) with charred beef barbacoa, homemade chimichurri and coleslaw on a brioche bun.

Pulled pork and maple glazed pork belly are other calorific options to allow you power deeper through the drinks menu, plus a smattering of hearty sausages and Montaditos (RMB25).

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For the canning fiends, the Homemade Pickles (RMB25) can be enjoyed both in the restaurant or for takeaway in four flavors – Deli Style Dill, Spicy Dill, Hungarian Wad Peppers, and Bread & Butter Pickles – a crunchy bar snack alternative to the customary fried fare.

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After sampling more than 40 cacao bean varieties from around the globe, the team worked in partnership with chocolate supplier Cacao Forest to create their own lineup of double-fermented 70% chocolate – 75-gram bars with no added sugar go for just RMB108 a pop.

Featuring local beans from Hainan, cinnamon and raisin-forward beans from Peru and – our personal favorite – acerbic and zesty beans from Tanzania, one or the whole trio set make for a great gift to loved ones (or yourself – self love is important). 

The Vibe 

The space is brightly outfitted in a rainbow of colors – Incan style artwork hangs on the walls, Peruvian heritage 'sombreros' dangle from the ceiling.

There are also more than 18 active SCOBY’s (symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast) – or, in layman’s terms, the 'mother' bacteria that ferments the sugar and tea base ingredients into the fizzy, slightly acidic kombucha beverage – sprinkled throughout the shotgun style (dog-friendly, despite the size) bar space, resulting in a 1:1 kombucha jar-to-seat ratio – some solid odds.

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For now, Pachamama is open daily (except Mondays) in the evenings, but the plan is to also welcome guests during daylight hours in the coming weeks, with trendy coffee drinks and Pachamama branded coffee beans (available in 100% Arabica blend as well as 70%-30% Arabica/Robusta blend) available in house and to go. 

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And, save the date: Grand Opening on Sunday, June 11 will see a day-long party with food vendors, live music, and all things boozy and fermented. 

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Price: RMB60-200
Who’s Going: Curious cocktail lovers, Latinos, fans of all things pickled and fermented
Good For: Learning about kombucha, complex cocktail sipping for a damn good value, supporting local

Pachamama,  #105, 425 Yanping Lu, by Changping Lu, 延平路425号105室, 近昌平路.

Read more Shanghai Bar Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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