Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Shanghai] Flask

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Flask

Add: 432 Shanxi Nan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu / 陕西南路432号, 近复兴中路
Tel: 3368 6108
Hours: [Mon-Sun] 7pm-2am
Price: 90 RMB/cocktail
Visited: Jan 2015

A sandwich shop called “The Press” recently opened on Shanxi Nan Lu. Glass façade, sharp concrete corners, neon strip lights that read “get your hands dirty”, a painting of superman munching away, and a vintage coca-cola vending machine. The emptiness and the eeriness of it remind me of Edward Hopper’s paintings, and it’s definitely not a place that you’d voluntarily venture in if you just happen to pass by.

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…unless you already know that there’s something curious about this coca-cola vending machine.

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Pull open the door and pass through the tunnel hidden just behind. Welcome to Flask, the newest addition to Shanghai’s growing speakeasy scene.

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The space is designed by Alberto Caiola. A few prominent features of the interior include the dramatic drop ceiling, a wall of giant whisky bottles illuminated by amber lights, and the sleekly arranged bar itself. More details here.

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The two bartenders at Flask are both Taiwanese – there is Allen who used to work at Lab, and 大熊 (Bear) who was previously at the Roof and the Public. Their cocktail menu is divided into three sections: ladies, gents, and prohibition classics. Let’s drink.

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I started from the top of “ladies” with Primo Summer Tea (90 RMB) – Tanqueray no. 10 gin, infused chrysanthemum, white wine, grapefruit bitters, and honey pomelo jam. The cocktail glass is first smoked with lavender, and I really liked its effect on this cocktail. If you are not into smoky flavors, do avoid this one. I asked for extra acidity as I tend to like cocktails on the sour side, and what Allen came up with was perfect for my palate.

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I followed the list and tried Mrs. Kostas (90 RMB) – infused lemongrass, apple juice, jasmine, drambuie, suze, and tonic bitters. This is the bestseller at Flask with the ladies because its alcohol flavor is nicely masked by other ingredients, perfect for those who prefer a smooth and easy drink. For me, it’s too weak.

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On another note, Flask’s owners Jackson and Kevin are old friends of mine, and they joined me at the bar for a few drinks. What were they having? For Kevin, a twist on Negroni that was minty and strong.

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For Jackson, a cocktail from the “gents” list – Jennings Daquiri (90 RMB): Havana Club rum, infused chrysanthemum, lime juice, and tonic bitters.

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The third “ladies” cocktail, titled Prohibition Party (90 RMB), consists of infused C, Martin Miller’s gin, wine, yellow Chartreuse, and Kentucky IPA beer. Served in a tea cup – a nod to the Prohibition era – this is quite literally a cocktail under cover. It’s a very pretty drink with very pretty flavors.

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But ok, enough of this girly fluff. Here’s Lucien Gaudin (90 RMB) from the Prohibition Classic list: Beefeater gin, Cointreau, Campari, Dolin dry vermouth. By far the strongest cocktail I’ve had all night, and one of my favorites too.

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On the whisky side, contrary to most bars in Shanghai which tend to highlight single malts, Flask features a nice selection of American Bourbon whiskies. Here’s a pretty bottle of Woodford Reserve.

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The bartenders were tasting some new ingredients for cocktails, and we joined in on the fun. As I sampled créme de framboise, griotte, pêche, etc., all I could think of was how lovely it would be to incorporate these flavors in my pastry recipes…

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Going with the concept of speakeasy, Flask is not doing much of active publicity at the moment, and is attracting crowds mainly through word of mouth. Still, the bar was quite full even on a Monday evening, and undoubtedly will become a hotspot soon. Lastly, the frontside sandwich shop is expected to be up and running by Chinese New Year with an awesome recipe of grilled cheese sandwich. Stay tuned.

Update: The grilled cheese sandwiches have arrived! Check them out here.

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Written by sugarednspiced

January 27th, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Posted in shanghai

Tagged with , ,