On September 10, Mandarin Oriental will unveil a new party, Shanghai Nights, at its chic 23rd-floor Mandarin Bar, drawing an interesting correlation between mainland China’s most sophisticated city and the United States’ most exciting one.
While in Shanghai, I never heard it termed the “Vegas of Asia” as this party is being billed, but I can see why. In the 1930s, Shanghai was a culture depot for Americans, British and French: Alcohol flowed, people partied, there was opulence in the architecture … and then communism ended it all.
Eighty years later, things are on the upswing in Shanghai. The city hosts a vibrant film festival, commerce is rich and restoration efforts have been successful, but much like Las Vegas, that Eiffel Tower might just be an incredible facsimile. Many of Shanghai’s preciously crafted art deco décor was destroyed, long ago liquidated, and while buildings may look historic, most are actually carefully fabricated that way.
Present-day Shanghai has some great bars, including Salon de Ning at the swanky Peninsula Hotel and Qi bar at the new Mandarin Oriental Shanghai. Back at home, Mandarin Oriental bar manager Priscilla Young (imported from the brand’s San Francisco location) and executive chef David Werly set the tone at Shanghai Nights with cocktails such as the gin-based Barrel Down the Bund, and exotic dishes such as a rice pepper roll with Alaskan king crab and jelly fish. A taste of the east—minus the jetlag—is a welcome addition to the Las Vegas bar scene.