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There's always a new luxury trend popping up in Shanghai whether it's yachting or over-the-top-bars. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors scouted the vibrant Chinese city to find the most outrageous bar scenes. Check out our list of Shanghai's 10 top-notch watering holes — some with postcard-worthy views, dynamic décor and innovative cocktails.
1. Salon de Ning. Hidden in the basement of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Peninsula Shanghai, Salon de Ning transports you to the decadence of 1930s Shanghai. The bar is outfitted in rich fabrics — red leathers and animal prints — and teems with eclectic touches, such as an antique phonograph and mismatched furniture. But the true showstopper is the upside-down room, an attention-stealing annex off the main bar that has a fireplace, bookcases and other décor anchored in the ceiling.
2. Alchemist Cocktail Kitchen. At this molecular gastro-bar (owned by hot Shanghai restaurateur Kelley Lee), bartenders-cum-craftsmen turn solids into liquids and liquids into gases just to make your cocktail. The menu constantly evolves, but some perennial favorites are Dr. Lee's Cider House Remedy (hot spiced cider, rum, coffee molasses and sesame-glazed carrot foam) and the potent Yangtze River tea (distilled Chinese alcohol baijiu, silver tequila and gold rum topped with citrus compote and served with a side of spiced jasmine tea).
3. M1NT. Situated 24 floors above Shanghai's busy downtown streets, even the bathrooms of this member's club offer spectacular views. Inside, this nightclub oozes glamour — low-slung cherry-colored couches and shimmering chandeliers — and there's always a well-heeled crowd, including celebrities (think Kobe Bryant, Naomi Campbell and Prince Albert of Monaco). The rooftop terrace provides panoramas and private access for VIPs, but the bar's indisputable pièce de résistance is the large shark tank in the entryway.
4. VUE Bar. In a city where dozens of bars vie for the distinction of offering the best views, VUE seems to have won the geographic lottery. Located on the 32nd and 33rd floors of Hyatt on the Bund, this popular spot provides nearly 360-degree vistas of both the historic waterfront and the crowded skyline across the river. Among the bar’s most impressive features is the outdoor Jacuzzi, where you can take a dip (buy bathing suits from the bar's menu) or simply mingle nearby. Otherwise, spend a mellow evening sipping champagne on the daybeds lining the patio's perimeter.
5. The Geisha. This new bar fully commits to its futuristic Japanese theme. The multi-level fantasyland has a Cali-Japanese restaurant on the ground floor, a nightclub on the second and a sake lounge and rooftop terrace on top. The energetic club offers loungey booths, bright images of geishas on the walls and tables with built-in ice buckets. Upstairs, the more demure lounge is sleek with sexy red accents and outdoor seating.
6. CHAR Bar & Grill. This bar's expansive terrace (atop Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund) extends the width of the building — it features comfortable seating and a view of the Huangpu River and both shores, including the colonial Bund buildings and the Pudong skyscrapers. Downstairs, the steakhouse serves juicy Wagyu beef and signature banana cheesecake, but at the bar it's all about pitchers of Pimm's and martinis, popular with the summer patio crowd.
7. Bar Untouchable. It's understated elegance — no crowds or packed dance floors — that makes this quiet Japanese bar in Shanghai's Gubei District worthy of our list. Spot the small cocktail shaker embedded in the wall outside — the bar’s only sign — and enter the Asian-style speakeasy where bartender Tamura-San is busy crafting refined cocktails served over perfect spheres of ice. The signature drink mixes whiskey, white rum, grapefruit juice, cassis and blue curaçao.
8. Long Bar. Once known as the world's longest bar, this hot spot inside Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund has since been stripped of the title, but it retains the debonair feel. Long Bar still has the vibe of its former life as a British gentleman's club — the 39-foot bar serves up martinis and other classic cocktails, while soft gray leather seating and carved dark wood create the right ambiance for enjoying the regular live jazz.
9. Johnnie Walker House. Housed in a three-story converted residence in the former French Concession, this is the Scotch brand's only Johnnie Walker House outside of Scotland. You'll need an invitation to get into the combined museum and bar — at least beyond the open-to-the-public ground floor, where limited-edition bottles are displayed. The masculine interior gleams with drink-related accents — whiskey glasses dangle from the lobby ceiling. The third-floor bar is reserved for patrons who purchase a bottle for RMB3,000 (US$475) or more.
10. Flair. Perched high on the 58th floor of the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, Flair may not be the highest bar in Shanghai (that distinction goes to the 100 Century Avenue Lounge on Park Hyatt's 92nd floor), but it claims the title of highest alfresco watering hole. The split-level outdoor patio puts you at eye level with the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, an unmatched view to enjoy with Asian tapas and raw bar. Inside, rustic wood goes chic with sleek lines and a modern fireplace.