Legendary local bartender Cross Yu opened Epic in 2014. The year proved seminal in the Shanghai cocktail scene, giving birth to Shingo Gokan’s Speak Low and Yao Lu’s Union Trading Company – both venues that are now regulars in the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. But while the others made noise on the international stage from the get-go, Epic has been slowly and steadily building its profile in China, maintaining a ‘local-first’ ethos both in the drinks it creates and the team it employs. As 2021 ticks round, Epic is ready for continent-wide recognition as it is given the Campari One To Watch Award.
The first thing a guest might notice walking into Epic is its soundtrack, an eclectic mix of disco, soul and funk; all playlists are Yu’s own curation. The second is likely to be the design, with street-style canvases and murals, all curated by in-house artist, ‘Ben’. When you get to the bar, the striking difference to other venues in China is the style of service: the team is encouraged to inject energy and personality into every guest interaction, flying in the face of the generally reserved hospitality projected in the country’s cocktail bars.
Epic’s menu is a tricky one to categorise. On opening, the bar launched with a traditional cocktail list, with subtle twists on classic serves. Although as it has evolved, it has adopted what Yu calls a ‘freeform’ approach, with increasingly zany combinations such as Festen, which comes as a blend of Campari, Yunnan beeswax-infused Scotch, elderflower liqueur and chocolate bitters. Many drinks are created bespoke to a guest’s taste and a variation of Yu’s signature Espresso Martini is always on the menu.
A bar with a firm identity and clear philosophy that is ready to step into the international spotlight, Epic is a worthy winner of the Campari One To Watch Award 2021.
Now read the interview with Cross Yu on 50 Best Stories and watch the video: