Botanist – Shanghai, China

Botanist Shanghai Review


When we arrived to take our seat at the bar, Botanist was abuzz with local cocktail connoisseurs checking out what Shanghai’s newest purveyor has to offer.

Botanist Shanghai ReviewLet me tell you – Shanghai knows a thing or two about cocktails, and takes it’s mixed concoctions very, very seriously. Botanist is a prime example of this, with a very lengthy, very complex cocktail menu that takes some time to peruse. I feel like they need to provide you with a complimentary shooter on arrival, as you might find yourself getting get a tad thirsty while you navigate the giant tome.

Botanist is all about unique and new ingredients and combinations, so you’ll come across plenty of recipes that aren’t for the faint hearted. Inspired by the recent movie ‘The Martian”, this concept is not without it’s touch of crazy. From the menu:

Our bartenders specialise in plants, herbs and fresh produces to create innovative infusion cocktails. The interior design is constructed around ‘futurism’ and ‘sustainability’. Plants and herbs are grown vertically without natural sunlight and seasonality.

Well, if I’m ever in charge of staffing a space mission, I know where I’m finding my resident mixologist. It’s interesting that they’ve turned the current ‘farm grown and seasonal’ trend on it’s head, and well, proclaim to do the opposite! The next paragraph in the menu however mentions they love to support local farmers and use seasonal ingredients…so maybe something’s gotten lost in translation here.

We tried:

#24 – Fresh pineapple, basil leaves, lime juice, pandan syrup, cachaça

and for seconds, I couldn’t find a second option that excited my tastebuds more than this cocktail:

#54 – Fresh passionfruit, peach, apple juice, lime juice, ginger, elderflower syrup

Botanist Shanghai Reviewso I asked them to add alcohol to it. They kindly complied. I’m not sure they were impressed by my request, but they complied. In fact, I’m not really sure they were impressed by anything. The general demeanour of the bartenders was: dour. I think this is more due to them being entirely overworked than anything else – I didn’t see them take a breath between crafting cocktail after cocktail after cocktail, working feverishly despite each having a cocktail assistant of sorts to deliver the right ingredients and equipment to them. Trying to get their attention to order a cocktail was a mission, despite sitting at the bar. Maybe this will improve once the ‘new kid on the block’ phase has cooled.

So back to the cocktails – they’re good. Of course they’re good. With the amount of intense passion that is clearly evident at Botanist, they’d have to be, and I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Botanist Shanghai ReviewThere’s a small food menu on offer, but the bar and the small tables don’t really lend themselves to a comfortable eating environment. We were tempted to do some tasting, but eventually put off when what started as an exuberant crowd when we arrived turned into an absolute cacophony of noise an hour later. Not pleasant – though perhaps a lot of that could be attributed to the table of screaming banshees in the corner (going that hard on a Tuesday? Well, respect to them I guess!)

Unless you’re hard of hearing and unaffected by bolshy hipsters drunk on chemistry styled concoctions, I’d advise popping by earlier in the night and going a few rounds before the chaos sets in. Man, have I turned into a nana or what? Perhaps it’s the acoustics of the design, with the venue being so industrial in style and full of metal surfaces, that’s causing the noise issue – so this might be resolved in time.

Botanist is definitely worth a visit, if only to watch all the rather aesthetically pleasing creations made before your eyes at the bar. These are cocktails at their craziest. You’ll be tempted to order many more once you see the wacky multi coloured beverages being crafted in front of you! Arrive thirsty with an adventurous spirit for adventurous spirits.

The Verdict:

Cocktails: 18.5/20
Service: 6.5/10
Ambience: 8/10
Decor: 9/10
Value: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8.1/10

Visiting Shanghai? Don’t forget to check out my other Shanghai Dining Reviews here!


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