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Speak Low

579, Fuxing Middle Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi

By Sandrae Lawrence

There’s nothing new about speakeasies – some might even call them old hat. But when they’re done well, they can be pretty darned impressive. Not convinced? Shingo Gokan’s Speak Low may well just change your mind.

The magic starts at street level. Even if you were unaware there are cocktails to be had beyond the Ocho Bar Tools shop front, it’s a must-visit for anyone who gives a jot about their drinks and wants to stock up on the latest books and shiny equipment.

But it’s the three secret drinking experiences that lie the other side of the retail outlet that really count. Each floor differentiates itself from the last, starting off more accessible in terms of drinks, atmosphere, experiences and pricing, and building up on all fronts as you ascend. 

Floor two is the closest you get to a good times bar – the music is louder, the emphasis is on simpler, crowd-pleasing serves prepared by apron-wearing bar staff and the mood is decidedly upbeat. Floor three dials up the complexity. Here the drinks are the stars, hence the contemplative soundtrack, seated service, waistcoated bar team and elegant glassware for drinks such as Shingo’s Bacardi Legacy 2013 winner, Speak Low. That leaves one last room. Hidden behind the Employees Only sign this intimate space is reserved for members and invited guests, hence the personal lockers of rare Japanese whiskies and piano player providing the soundtrack. Trust us, there's not a dud spot in the house.