The Best Speakeasies in Shanghai


Apparently, the ‘80s are out. Gone are the days of themed parties that demand tight, bright spandex and ridiculous hairdos. Pop culture’s new obsession? The 1920’s and the Prohibition in the United States. With the success of movies like The Great Gatsby and the US series Boardwalk Empire, the Volstead Act is actually popular.

The nightlife scene seems particularly keen to cash in on this new craze. Speakeasies have been popping up in cities like New York, L.A., and London to pay homage to the roaring ‘20s. Shanghai wants a piece of the action. So in order “Keep up with the Jones’s,” several bars have popped up around the city to keep on track with these other major cities. And let me tell you, they’ve done it right.

Here are my top 4 recommendations for speakeasies around Shanghai:

1. Speak Low-  Located in Xuhui near the Shanxi Metro station.

Speak Low is my top pick. I felt like I was apart of a hidden club experiencing this speakeasy. To enter, you must first find Ocho, a boutique selling bar-tending equipment. The employees pay no attention to you, so you really need to know what you’re doing to get to the bar, which is fantastic.

In order to make it inside, you need to push the bookcase aside. On the bottom floor is a small bar with a smoking area. You can then travel up stairs to the second floor for amazing prohibition cocktails. The Moscow Mule and the Maid in Cuba are fantastic. The third floor is even more exclusive. In order to find the bar here you need to press a button in a painting, and a door will swing open. Here you can find slightly pricier cocktails and more subdued vibe. There is even a VIP fourth floor, which offers fantastic, well-aged whiskey. Speak Low is perfect for a date or a night out with a few friends. Make sure to check out the Taxi Colada, their most famous cocktail, while you’re there.

2. 1515 West Bar- Located in the Shangri La hotel.

This bar offers the perfect prohibition atmosphere with dark wood and leather furniture, low lighting, and a well stocked bar. The ambiance is perfect for sipping a prohibition-style cocktail with friends or on a date.

3. Senator Saloon– Located in Xuhui district.

Senator Saloon was one of the first speakeasies to pop up in Shanghai and is still going strong. The bar is set up with several intimate booths and a ceiling imported all the way from Texas. Their cocktails are also outstanding. Senator Saloon is known for their bourbon, and they do it right. All bourbon lovers should put this on their “must see” list in Shanghai.

4. Flask-  Located in the former French Concession.

Flask is the epitome of a speakeasy. In order to enter the bar, you must first find The Press, a sandwich shop. You walk around to an old fashioned Coca Cola machine and enter through a secret passage. Flask is very similar to a speakeasy you would find in New York in the 1920’s. The dark oak furniture is ornamented with whiskey bottles and the ambiance is great. Prohibition cocktails seal the deal and make this a great place to start your night out.

Have you visited any of these speakeasies in Shanghai? 


About Author

Samantha is a travel addict and nomadic teacher currently living in Shanghai. Any chance she gets, she is getting off to a new location or explore, either in China or somewhere with a great deal on tickets. Before China, Samantha spent two years in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and two years in Doha, Qatar. During her time abroad she has had the wonderful opportunity to travel all over Central America, central Asia and some of Eastern Europe. As much as Samantha loves to travel, she also makes time to return home to Florida to see her family whenever she can. Her current ambition is to travel to and explore 40 different countries by the time she is forty. Only 12 to go!

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