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BY CRYSTYL MO
PHOTOGRAPHED BY DIRK WEIBLEN

A Shanghai bar recalls the city’s alleyways of yore and honors a timeless cocktail.

A century ago, this handsome brick complex surrounding the Zhong Plaza in Shanghai’s central Jing’an district was home to the city’s first flower conservatory. Now it’s a nightlife hub housing design-forward restaurants and watering holes like Logan’s Punch, Logan Brouse’s boisterous punch bar that’s a throwback to vintage American culture and turn-of-the-century Shanghai. The bar is set in a revived early-1900s lanehouse with interiors that evoke the city’s traditional longtangs, the narrow, interconnected residential warrens with small courtyards that are under siege from 21st-century skyscrapers. 

To bring his culturally clashing vision to fruition, Brouse tapped Neri & Hu, the Chinese architects known for their multidisciplinary approach to design. The duo employed the city’s indigenous materials throughout the space, including reclaimed wood, slate-hued brick, brass metalwork, and bamboo slats. The concept flows from the cocktail den’s eponymous drink, whose origins trace back to the 17th-century when it was invented by British East India Company sailors (the large-format communal bowl made it a natural party drink). 

“Our design takes inspiration from the social quality of punch, reminding guests of the drink’s multiple origins and harkening simultaneously to both low-brow and high-brow cultural references,” says Lyndon Neri, half of the brain behind Neri & Hu. “The space’s layout is a direct interpretation of Shanghai’s lanes.”

The interiors reflect the nature of the fruity libations and the divergent Western and Eastern cultures, and are reached by a dark alleyway reminiscent of the “light and dark side of punch, the happiness and the drunkenness,” Brouse says. The division of the main bar area and a series of private rooms is both poetic and practical; with years of experience working in Shanghai nightclubs, Brouse understood that while expatriates enjoy being at the central bar “in all the action,” locals prefer the exclusivity of the sequestered booths.

The main bar represents a courtyard and is done up in green-bricked walls and a draped copper ceiling—an undulating overhead curtain that introduces “a sense of ceremony, temporality, and grandeur,” says Hu. Pendant lights on pulleys create pockets of light and shadow tinged by the Heineken-green hues of glass encasings, while custom spherical mirrors at varying heights allow unexpected peeks into opposing spaces. In the private enclaves—“the alleys”—walls are lined with contrasting media such as bamboo, which was historically used in lanehouses, graphic-print wallpaper, and period images from the 1960s.

The result is a welcoming atmosphere that marries old and new, rawness and polish; a metaphorical punch bowl, says Neri, overflowing with a “mélange of characters and conversation, a dash of conviviality and intrigue, and, of course, a sprinkling of that special secret ingredient.”