Last week I visited Shanghai for the first time as part of the team judging the inaugural Camus cognac Shanghai Shake cocktail competition. This was my second time in China - the first time was just a year ago with Ming River Baijiu - and Shanghai turns out to be a very different city.
On my last trip I did visit Chengdu, a city amping up to be a first-tier city with Western amenities, an international food scene, and shopping. Shanghai is already there - I didn't see or have to use a Chinese pit toilet the entire time!
This post is just some stuff I saw - I was only in Shanghai for 2 days and 3 nights, and one of those days was spent judging the competition, so I don't claim to have seen very much.
This was my hotel - the Marriott Tomorrow Square. I joked to friends that I brought my wizard's staff in case I got trapped on the roof by Sarumon waiting to be rescued by eagles. The reception is on the 38th floor; my room was on the 52nd.
The first night I was there, we headed out to a couple of bars. I joined the group at Atelier by TasteBuds, a bar with walls of gin and whiskey. I didn't have time for a cocktail.
We then went to Senator Saloon, which is apparently one of Shanghai's oldest modern cocktail bars at 7 years old and runs with all its original staff. We had really good drinks (they're famous for their whiskey sour made with Wild Turkey) and the staff were great. But holy cow the bar is not derivative of nor inspired by but a direct copy of San Francisco's Bourbon & Branch!! Right down to the wallpaper, the design of the booths, the music soundtrack, table lamps, tin ceiling, even the logo!!! - all of it.
The Shanghai Shake cocktail competition was located at Bar Rouge, located on The Bund. The Bund is a strip of colonial stone buildings built along a curve in the Huangpu River that faces a skyline of modern Shanghai with its futuristic (or formerly futuristic) skyscrapers. At night, the buildings all light up and it's something to see.
Many patio/rooftop/outdoor bars/clubs are located in this area and open up about 5PM. Prime time is when the dazzling light displays come on after dark.
The next day was a free day so I spent it walking in a loop from my hotel back to The Bund.
On the way there I stopped into the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, a museum with a scale model of the entire city! You could walk around it on an elevated platform and see it from the next floor looking down.
One street had many small bookshops (one in English) and art supply stores on it. The way back was on an insanely busy shopping street. It was a bit much.
The last night I met up with the bartenders and we went to a hot pot restaurant and then I had time to hit one bar with the bartenders from the competition - The Odd Couple - before calling it an early night.
Shaghai has a population of over 24 million people (under 1 million in San Francisco) and I only scratched the surface of what to do and see there (they have a kung fu movie park!). Hopefully I'll be back for a future visit.