Sugar has some spice, and many things nice, and lots of what good cocktail bars are made of. If you’re in the west end of the city, congratulations: One of Hangzhou’s coolest little bars has just opened in your sector.
Design and style-cues seem to have been borrowed from (surprise surprise) Joy’s, which - as we’ve mentioned several times before, and even ad nauseam - deserves all the credit for setting the tempo for the furious fazhan of Hangzhou’s blossoming cocktail bar scene. But Sugar is no knock-off. Dark and shadowy, and not tripped-up on attempts to be any more original or cutting-edge than it needs to be, Sugar is simply the sort of tidy, grown-ups bar you’d find in any decent city anywhere in the world. A very good sound system delivered a measured mix of classic and contemporary jazz at just the right volume, and the friendly but unobtrusive uniformed staff wrought excellent product with haste proportionate to the complexity of the concoction they were charged with conjuring from the infinity of spirits, cordials, and liqueurs along the illuminated wall behind the bar.
Most of the ground-floor seating is at the bar, and that’s exactly where you’re want to roost, because the upstairs seems laid-out and decorated for the preferences and expectations of local clientele. Comfortable but ordinary, it did not hold our attention. The pool table on the second floor, though, is a positive differentiator for this cocktail bar, and throughout the evening the crisp crack of 8-ball added to Sugar’s ambience.
The drink-list is impressive – if you want it, they make it – but more impressive still are the prices. Almost every cocktail rings-in at RMB50 – martinis included - which is exactly what a cocktail should cost in any establishment in China which is not a haunt for supermodels and hangout for rock stars. We enjoyed our Old Fashioned, Gin & Tonic, Aviation, and classic Negroni (each RMB50), and possibly tried other mixed-drinks, too, but by midnight we lost track. A good sign.