When it comes to cocktails in Ningbo, the saying quality over quantity certainly fits. After fluctuating for awhile the city has finally settled with 5 cocktail bars in the city center, each with their own perks and specialties that make them shine. After writing various articles about beer and whiskey and even a few articles on Shanghai’s cocktail scene, including one about the best bars in the city, I’m taking a look at the bars of Ningbo, why you’re going to them, and what you should try.
- Evolution Cocktail Bar
Having opened near the end of 2015, Evolution never ceases to impress and is the bar to go to if you’re looking to try something out of the ordinary. The bar is a cozy place that stands out with its full copper bar, backbar filled with all sorts of spirits and house made infusions, and nice selection of whiskey. Head over to catch owner/head bartender Jaccey and his crew mixing up excellent takes on the classics (try their Mojito or get a DIY Mojito box) as well as a recently updated list of craft cocktails, all of them inspired by Jaccey’s experiences in Ningbo and China.
Going For: Craft Cocktails
What To Try: Ningbo Mule, Inside Job, Evolution Fashion, Hi Lavender
Address: 18 Shengyuan Lane, Moon Lake Garden, Haishu
Hours: Daily, 6:00 PM-2:00 AM
2. Bar Constellation Ningbo
Opened in 2011 as the branch of the Shanghai bar of the same name (which was opened way back in 2000 by the legendary Kin-San), Bar Constellation is the place to go if you want classic cocktails done right. Their cocktail and whiskey menus are endless, and every time I’ve been I’ve made it a habit to try something new, a task which may take years to complete but is well worth it. Their bartenders are all award winning and execute excellent service, and the bar even boasts over 200 bottles of whiskey.
Going For: Classic Cocktails
What To Try: Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, East India Cocktail
Address: 72 Renmin Road, Laowaitan, Jiangbei
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 7:00 PM-2:00 AM; Fri-Sat, 7:00 PM-3:00 AM
3. Easy Bar
This bar, with locations in both Laowaitan and Moon Lake Garden, has been causing a stir since it opened years back. The more boisterous bar on the list, Easy Bar (Laowaitan) and Easy Bar Cozy Lounge (Moon Lake) offer a wide variety of cocktails, rainbow-colored shots, and all around fun.
Going For: Whimsical Drinks
What To Try: About any cocoction they mix up
LWT Address: 83-85 Zhongma Road, Laowaitan, Jiangbei
Hours: Daily, 7:00 PM-5:00 AM
Moon Lake Address: 35 Shengyuan Lane, Moon Lake Garden, Haishu | 海曙区月湖盛园35号
Hours: Daily, 11:00 AM-5:00 AM
4. Islay Bar
A relatively new addition to Laowaitan, Islay Bar is easy to spot thanks to its rainbow light up sign and cool interior, with its trippy mushroom and wind-covered backbar that holds over 100 bottles of whiskey, including a few rarities and fine bottlings. As the focus is on whiskey, this is the best time to go for a simple drink that will let the spirit shine, like an Old Fashioned (make it with Scotch, no one will mind).
Going For: Whiskey-Based Cocktails
What To Try: An Old Fashioned with Scotch
Address: 6 Yangshan Road, Laowaitan, Jiangbei
5. Piper Jazz Club
Last but not least is Piper Jazz, who ambitiously set up shop right next to Bar Constellation around the beginning of the year. They have a nice menu of creative craft cocktails as well as some interesting infused gins. But the thing to go for here is their gin cocktails, which don’t fail to impress. They’ve also got an incredible amount of whiskey supplied by local whiskey shop THE WHISKYFIND.
Going For: Gin-Based Cocktails
What To Try: Earl Grey Tea Cocktail, Red Coral
Address: 76 Renmin Road, Laowaitan, Jiangbei