Black Rock is a cocktail bar that specializes in whisky. It’s not any ordinary whiskey bar, but rather a library, nay, a citadel dedicated to whisky that caters for novices and connoisseurs alike.
The original Black Rock is located in Shoreditch, London. It opened in 2016 with the purpose of making whisky approachable. The Shanghai location, tucked in a secluded corner on Fumin Lu under the Yan’an Lu overpass, intends to continue that ethos. Making this possible is bar manager and partner Colin Tait (Shake, Heyday). He’s selected nearly 180 different whiskies for the bar, and fashioned signature cocktails and classy highballs.
As for the space, the defining feature of Black Rock its centerpiece, a 1.5-ton table made from an Erima tree from Papua New Guinea. Inside are two rivers of drink, aging in the rare wood, topped up from one end and poured out from the other. This means the liquid is constantly evolving as it ages at different times—no one dram tastes the same. This even has a name: the solera system. It’s very cool.
The space accommodates up to 50, seated at the communal tables, lounge areas, and a small semi-private room. That said, there isn’t a bar to rest your elbows on. There’s also patio seating outside, and Black Rock stocks cigars for those who like to indulge.
There are a few ways to sample what Black Rock has to offer. Firstly, by perusing the shelves of whisky and selecting by the glass or bottle. They have quite the collection of rare whiskies, bottles of which could run up in the thousands. And if you’re a connoisseur, there’s ample choice for you to explore.
Then there are cocktails and fancified highballs. These are all categorized into smoke, sweet, balance, spice, fruit, and fragrance.
Inside the table is the house whisky blend, recommended neat, and a Boulevadier, aging in American oak. Either of these are ¥98.
There’s also a snacks menu, courtesy of chef Danyi Gao (Shake, Bun Cha Cha). I feel that some bars overthink bar snacks instead of serving food that is simple and satisfying. And Black Rock has some excellent bar snacks, ones that will keep people around drinking for longer.
Black Rock has a comfortable, chill vibe. It’s busy but not crowded. What did surprise me when I visited—and bear with me here on the stereotype—is that the crowd was mostly women. That was certainly refreshing to see and wasn’t my expectation when I walked in. Black Rock also has a great sound system—you can have a conversation without going hoarse.
Black Rock Shanghai
Address: 41 Fumin Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu 富民路41号, 近延安西路
Hours: Mon-Sun, 7pm-2am