Those of us living in China might have been spared the tumultuous drama that our US counterparts have experienced in 2017, but like always, the Middle Kingdom has had its own fair share of attention-grabbing headlines. From the boom of shared bikes to a presidential visit from The Donald, our team has put together a list of 2017’s most unforgettable viral stories, recounting major events that defined the worlds of sports, tech, arts, fashion and food. Here’s to another year of eclectic, weird and wonderful life in China, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
For more, follow our full 2017 Year in Review coverage.
Having said goodbye to 10 beloved local establishments last year, it's time to help ring in the new by celebrating some of the best bar and club openings of 2017. Below, find our picks for Shenzhen's most impressive new places for cocktails, craft beer, whiskey and dancing all night long.
Cocktails here are works of edible art, each adorned with sprigs of pine or chunks of fruit and whole spices. We start with a light and sweet drink to ease into the night. The Lilium Fizz (RMB118) comes with baked egg white on top and a base of old Tom, a kind of sweet gin. When we bring the glass to our lips, the frothy egg white is trailed by fruity apple and fresh lemon juice, creating a creamy yet thirst-quenching first sip.
Who’s going: demanding customers, tuhao
Good for: free perfume, making a proposal, sweet cocktails
2. Club Sector
If you can measure a nightclub’s success by the number of hands waving in the air ‘like they just don’t care,’ Sector’s doing great. The Nanshan club’s giant ‘Mainroom’ dance floor is packed on the Friday we visit. Plus, unlike many clubs, Sector boasts ample space for both chatting at a normal volume and dancing. In general, the decor — reflective black walls and dim lighting — doesn’t draw attention to itself, leading to a focus on the music.
Who’s going: university students, EDM lovers
Good for: top-notch DJs, dramatic beat drops
The American-sized RMB48 Chicken Street IPA is not the kick in the taste buds more hardcore IPA fans might want, instead the fruity malty mix is an easy sip with a 6.5 ABV. Already attracting an even split of local and foreign patrons, FuBar sells golden ale at just RMB18 for a small – a handy introduction to those used to downing Tsingtao. Word of advice: if you order the sexy cider (RMB28 small, RMB48 medium), go with a medium at most. It’s absurdly drinkable with an 8 percent ABV and is actually something closer to apple wine.
Price: RMB100 for two beers
Who's going: locals, expats, early evening families
Good for: pub fare, fresh brewed beer
4. Fury Brewing
Hidden on a side street, Fury has all the trappings of a sleek little hangout: 20 taps are housed behind a gleaming bar on the first floor, while cartoon drawings of curvy women loom over long couches on the second. The Drunken Master Saison – named after Jackie Chan’s comic masterpiece, of course – is flavorful but not overwhelmingly hoppy. The Little Dragon IPA, priced at RMB40, packs a stronger punch while the banana-tinged Wilbier (RMB40) and Red Date Stout (RMB50) make for light, pleasant sips.
Who’s going: beer experts, fruity drink fans
Good for: unique brews, chilling with the crew
Nearest metro: Sea World (Exit C), 2 minutes.
With an entrance concealed inside a convenience store at the heart of Shopping Park's bar street and inventive drinks, Haploid feels like a clubhouse for the in-the-know. The winner of our 'best new bar' award this year has 16 signature cocktails, including the refreshingly tangy ‘I am Groot’ (RMB80). It comes in the guise of a potted plant, with a sprig of mint balanced atop an Oreo-crumb ‘dirt’ topping. The Yuan Yang drink (RMB98) is a little more traditional, adding whiskey to the Hong Kong blend of milk tea and coffee. It comes served with a special treat, however: two triangles of toast, paired with a tube of Chivas-infused condensed milk.
Who’s going: trendy bar hoppers, cocktail sippers
Good for: creative concoctions, feeling fancy
The first page of drinks on the menu is original to Luxury, the brainchildren of the head bartender, known simply as ‘Feng.’ Feng’s kiss – the drink, not the action – uses single malt whisky, pineapple and orange juice (RMB88) . In Chinese we’re told it’s like a real kiss: the first ‘taste’ is sweet but then it turns strong and a bit bitter. The RMB88 girl’s skirt has another moniker that invites a double entendre, but it’s also a sweet sip that should be taken seriously. By the time our lips touch the ice at the bottom of this egg-white-topped drink, we’ve deemed it one of the best ‘girly’ drinks we’ve had in recent memory.
Who’s going: in-the-know cocktail connoisseurs
Good for: quiet dates, drinks with a story
7. Men's Club
The dimly lit space gives off an air of old-school luxury with its marble-tiled floor and geometric lamps, while closely clustered chairs foster intimate conversation. At the bar, we start with Men’s Club’s most girly cocktail: pastel pink and garnished with rosebuds, the cognac-based Angel Rose (RMB108) tastes like a spiked strawberry milkshake. The similarly pretty chrysanthemum negroni (RMB108) is an interesting spin, while the flashy Earl Grey cocktail (RMB108) livens things up with dry ice, spice-infused liquors and a 10-year-old scotch.
Who’s going: serious drinkers, whiskey lovers
Good for: strong cocktails, treating yourself
Nearest metro: Shopping Park (Exit D), 6 minutes
Mixy Bar is dim and thoughtfully designed with woods, leathers and glass, stocked with top-shelf ingredients infused by hand. And it can’t help but slip in a little Shanghai speakeasy sophistication. The RMB128 Old Driver, a cheeky take on a boulevardier, finds uncommon harmony between peaty Laphroaig whiskey and Campari, elevated by vermouth and orange bitters into an incredibly balanced drink. The name refers to a guy who knows how to please a lady – and isn’t shy about sharing the secrets.
Price: RMB98-128 per cocktail
Who’s going: designers, whisky aficionados, thoughtful sippers
Good for: midweek drinks
Nearest metro: OCT (Exit B), 8 minutes
9. Oil Club
Oil Club looks too nice to be an edgy electronic music venue. It’s hard to imagine that experimental music parties – nightwave and grime one week, dub techno the next – are held at the club next door. At the bar, we try the Catcher in the Rye (RMB78), a gimmicky sounding glass that’s presented inside a smoke-filled bell jar. Mist swirls over the surface of the tart, bourbon-sweet drink, leaving a faint woody smell on our fingertips, scarves and hair.
Price: RMB50-90 per drink
Who’s going: electronic music lovers, cool kids
Good for: upscale cocktails, secret raves
Nearest metro: Xiasha (Exit D), 5 minutes
We’ll just go ahead and say it: outside of hotels, Bao’an District is a cocktail dead zone. Anything but a gin and tonic is likely to be screwed up by the district’s few bars, which seem to specialize in warm Tsingdao. That was until Nakama opened. We start off with the smoky (RMB68), which sweeps across the palate with sour and sweet notes. If we were being poetic, we might say it opens a door to a flower-filled garden of flavors. But, nah. The money is everything (RMB68) makes good use of elderflower to create a distinctive aromatic, floral taste and the love in a puff (RMB68) uses peach juice and Japanese Choya liquor to produce a savory, fruity concoction.
Who’s going: neighbors, creative cocktail lovers, IT dudes
Good for: inventive cocktails, a light buzz
Hungry for more? Here are our picks for Shenzhen's 10 best new restaurants of 2017.