Celebrated Shanghai cocktail bar serving classic cocktails- expertly hand-crafted by ex-Ginza mixologist

October 25th, 2012

Update: July 2016 – EL COCTEL has closed – patrons are referred to EL OCHO – another cocktail bar by EL WILLY GROUP

The masterful juxtaposition of the meticulous Japanese cocktail service techniques found in the sophisticated cocktail bars of Ginza, with the relaxed Spanish style of nightlife and socialising found in the traditional bars of Barcelona,  has resulted in the creation in 2010 of el Coctel – an intimate cocktail bar and lounge in Shanghai. The concept originated in the fertile creativity of acclaimed Shanghai-based, Spanish chef and restaurateur, Willy Trullas Moreno- founder in 2008 of the much-celebrated el Willy Spanish restaurant. Wanting to re-create in Shanghai a personal expression of the kind of place that he would frequent in Barcelona, Willy fashioned for el Coctel a space of relaxed sophistication, with a quirky mix of furnishings and design accents that are at once recognisable for their shared DNA with the el Willy restaurant. One of Japan’s top bartenders from Ginza was brought in to direct the bar operations and dispense classic cocktails with the fastidious attention to detail that makes Tokyo one of the preeminent centres of the global cocktail culture.

The drinks at el Coctel are hand-crafted by the small team of expert bartenders, using only premium quality liquors and ingredients, freshly pressed seasonal fruits, and hand-cut ice. The menu is updated seasonally, and is a concise, finely honed assemblage of classic cocktail recipes. The wine list offers a broad selection of New & Old World wines, by the glass and bottle, together with champagnes from the major labels, and also selections from boutique producers. Other drinks include an impressive variety of single malts and premium whiskys and a few non-alcoholic cocktails and freshly squeezed juices.

The exquisite cocktails are complimented by a compact menu of small dishes of Spanish influence- 5 year premium acorn fed Iberico hams with artisan cheeses, hot pressed sandwiches, and selections of desserts.

The atmosphere is a warmly inviting blend of relaxed, unpretentious sophistication, where the appreciation of the cocktail culture is foremost. A carefully curated music presentation by resident and guest international DJs is at unobtrusive sound levels, allowing for comfortable conversations and socialising.

Set on the second floor of a refurbished building in the popular French Concession area of central Shanghai, el Coctel occupies a cosy space with the main bar room at the front that flows seamlessly to the lounge area at the rear. Entrance from the street level is via an unmarked narrow stairway- the only clue to what lies above is a single cocktail shaker embedded behind a glass panel in the concrete facade.

el Coctel is open daily from 5 pm until late, and with limited seats, reservations are recommended, particularly on the popular weekend nights.

el coctel shanghai

The solid timber bar, with the impressively well-stocked back bar display of liquor bottles. The bar service area is sunken so that the bartenders are at eye level with patrons seated at the bar. 

el coctel shanghai

The feature wall fashioned completely from bronze cocktail shakers- created in the manner of a giant “abacus”.

el coctel shanghai

 The main bar room of el Coctel- with the bar on the left and entrance stairway on the right. The lounge area is in the background.

el coctel shanghai

 Antique timber tables and chairs in the front section adjacent to the bar.

el coctel shanghai

 The main bar room with comfortable soft leather sofa seating along the raw brick wall, matched with antique leather armchairs. The entire ceiling features the beautiful hand-painted floral mural created by Barcelona-based fashion illustrator Veronica Ballart Lilja.  

el coctel shanghai

The floor to ceiling windows overlook the tree-lined roadway in the former French Concession residential area of Shanghai.

el coctel shanghai

 The rear lounge space is separated by a few steps down from the main bar level.

el coctel shanghai

The rear lounge space features colorful plush velvet upholstered sofas, reclaimed timber flooring and ceiling.

el coctel shanghai

 el Coctel- like its older sibling restaurant, el Willy, has garnered considerable acclaim since its opening in 2010.

el coctel shanghai

 Rows of bronzed cocktail shakers separated the bar space from the entrance stairway.

Cóctel Specialties

The cocktails menu features several categories such as Mules, Margaritas & Revivers; Fizzes, Sours, Silvers & Citrus; Muddled Citrus, Bruised Herbs New & Old Fashioned; and Martinis : Stirred, Shaken, Sweet & Dry. Some examples of the classic cocktails served include-  ”Sloe Tequila”- Sloe berry infused gin, hand squeezed lemon juice & gold tequila, shaken and presented over crushed ice; “Fresh Tomato Bloody Mary”- muddled fresh tomato shaken soft with pepper & celery infused vodka, served with a lump of ice & sea salt rim; “Tokyo Fizz” – traditional Japanese sweet and sour gin based highball with a delicate creamy finish; and “Earl Grey Martini”- Earl Grey infused gin served up with a breath of Dolin vermouth. The cocktails are mostly priced at RMB 80 – with some specialties at higher prices.

el coctel shanghai

From “Muddled Citrus” cocktails- Mojitos- specially prepared to customer choices from selection of fresh seasonal fruits

el coctel shanghai

Islay Old Fashioned- Spirit , sugar and bitters, Stirred with a bruised orange twist & 5ml of Islay Single Malt.

el coctel shanghai

Cóctel Digestivo : ”Carol”- Cognac, Carpano Antica and Amareno Black cherry…..rich deep flavors of smoke, leather and cherry.

 

el coctel shanghai

el Cóctel - cocktail bar & lounge – Shanghai

Address: 2nd Floor, 47 Yongfu Lu- near Fuxing Xi Lu, Xu Hui District, Shanghai 200031. China
Metro: Line 10 Shanghai Library
Enquiries+86.21. 6433 6511
Website:  www.el-coctel.com
Opening Hours:    Monday to Sunday   5:00 pm ~ Late

See also review article on el Willy Spanish Restaurant