Fantasyland Cocktail Bar & Design Narnia – This is Shanghai

The place

Walk into an Italian furniture store on Jiaozhou Lu, pull the velvet curtains and walk in The showroom – a Narnian fantasyland of vibrant and daring art, textural installations, lingering scents and trance-like rhythms, all set in a maze of eight different rooms on the second floor.

Image courtesy of the showroom

Co-ownership of Richard King – a wine connoisseur with years of F&B experience – Oscar Zuffada – an Italian specialized in the catering and hotel industry – and Edouard Petri – a celebrated Italian architect focusing on the interplay between design and fashion, the trifecta brings together their areas of expertise to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

WechatIMG90.jpegImage courtesy of the showroomANS_6888-copia.jpg
Image courtesy of the showroom

Image courtesy of the showroom

ANS_4378-copia.jpgImage courtesy of the showroom

The spiral staircase is lined with surreal artwork, designed by Milan-based creative bureau Toiletpaper, leading to a trio of “ass chairs” – aptly named because they are exactly the shape of a sculpted ass, providing a suggestive way a taste of what awaits you behind the closed doors of the Showroom.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

The space once housed a former hotel, and with zoning laws that prohibit tearing down walls, the new owners were forced to imaginatively think of a semi-divided space with a long hallway down the middle.

Thus, the concept of a multi-sensory room was born, giving Shanghai an experience it has never had before. And an experience is exactly what it is.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Unlike your usual visit to a new bar, The Showroom is as much a bar as – as the name suggests – a showroom. Everything about interior design, art, lighting and architecture comes into play, so as you sip your cocktail inspired by the eclectic layout, design and distinct scent of this particular room, you can also scan the QR code from the menu to browse the furniture you are sitting on. .

We’ll have another martini, with one side of the Italian Gervasoni armchair upholstered in teal blue leather.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Like a rat wandering through a maze, visitors stumble upon entrances hidden flush with seemingly solid walls, giving them access to either a wine cellar – ready to serve pairing dinners – or a swanky game room that publicizes the stakes via a smoking gun cut through the entire south-facing wall.

WechatIMG85.jpegImage courtesy of the showroom

Each room provides a blank wall for featured artists each month to showcase their work, keeping the interior fresh and always rotating.

Additionally, they hope to hold interactive art exhibits and fashion shows for private and semi-private events in the future.

Whichever piece you choose, you’ll find yourself in a space that can only be explained as a designer’s hallucination, making it admired among art collectors, bar dwellers and Instagrammers alike.

The drinks

The current menu highlights 20 libations, eight of which correspond to each particular piece.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

From the Princepessa room, the Black Queen (RMB98) sees a base of Broker’s Gin and green Chartreuse accented with lime, yuzu liqueur and sweet crème de cassis.

Fluffy egg white mousse is burnt to mimic the Queen’s ruffled flounces on a neckline, while edible flowers pay homage to her floral crown.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Originally from the Love Poison room, Bite Me (RMB128) is a blend of sweet and savory, with 7-year-aged dark rum, vanilla and Creole spice bitters, maple syrup and Cajun powder topped with 4-hour cured Italian tile cutter and a green olive.

Bold in both flavor and ABV, this drink packs a punch.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Aged in a coconut shell for 15 days, the Coconut Negroni (RMB98) combines Broker’s Gin, Italian vermouth and coconut bitters for a tropical take on the classic.

DSC07852.jpgBasilisk Smash (RMB78), Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Don’t Touch My Tralala (RMB78) is an ideal sip for the Luxury Shit room – a blend of bourbon, passion fruit puree, citrus and mint, with an alluring splash of whipped black sugar syrup on the side of the glass.

On the snack side, expect Italian-inspired bites – arancini, chicken liver mousse, charcuterie and cheese – with a selection of afternoon teas to come.

The atmosphere

Although it looks like an acid trip from Alice in Wonderland, it’s definitely a lounge, not a club. Upbeat funky trance music is low enough to have a conversation, but loud enough to allow for intimacy.

Image courtesy of the showroom

Mood-altering textural elements – 3D wallpaper with snakes that seem to slither around you; soft braided cotton canapes; reflective copper tables; dimly lit mushroom lamps emitting a slow, pulsating glow; hammered aluminum surfaces; twinkling-eyed monkeys watching the drinkers from across the room – make you feel like you’re living inside pages written by Hunter S. Thompson.

Image courtesy of the showroom

Drinks aside, a visit to the Showroom is a stimulating multi-sensory immersive experience that exposes how humans interact with design, especially when paired with a few equally trippy cocktails.

Price: RMB80-200

Who go: Artists, interior designers, fashion gurus, wine drinkers, cocktail lovers

Good for: Impress a date, fill your Instagram, cut psychedelic fans

Large aperture

The Showroom has been pre-opening for a few months – adjusting the drinks, music, lighting and layout to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for…drum roll please…their big night official opening, scheduled for February 8. see what everyone is talking about!

See a listing for the showroom.

Read more Shanghai Bar Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

About Gertrude H. Kerr

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