Bar Review: Klubb Rouge

The biggest question I have about Klubb Rouge is very simple, how long before it kloses?

First, a bit about the bar. While it has no ownership connection to Shanghai's popular Bar Rouge, there are a few connections with that Shanghai bar. The mind wonders why they had to replicate the name of the Shanghai establishment and not come up with something new, but oh well. The bar is located in the China View building just east of Gongti and you enter through a plush, and very red, area leading to the elevators that take you up to the bar. When you get out of the elevator, you are struck by the size of the bar (huge!) and the decibel level of the music (shockingly loud!).

The music is strictly electronic/house and is decent if you like that sort of music. The interior is not as plush as one would expect considering the prices, instead it has a very industrial vibe. It's also pretty surprising that for a high-end bar, there are only two private rooms. The saving grace of the bar is a rooftop terrace that offers a better view than nearby terraces like Q Bar, but still doesn't leave you looking at much more than Gongti and a few construction sites.

When it comes to drinks, you'll typically drop between RMB70-90 per drink. The quality is pretty good, they have their special ginger melon martini and espuma drinks and while the results were tasty, I still prefer the mixing at Q Bar (or even the Saddle) for a lot less. The bartenders are attentive, but it's kind of easy because there is rarely a crowd.

The crowd is a major issue, though. There are rarely any people at this spot. The problem is that its too schizophrenic. Does it want to be a high-end, classy bar or does it want to be a uber-hip, industrial house club? The prices make one think that it wants to be a bar, but the incredibly loud music says otherwise and makes it impossible to hold a conversation anywhere other than on the rooftop.

The other major problem that is keeping the masses away are the prices. The bartenders aren't as good as this spot would like you to think. They also aren't using any different alcohols than what you'd get at places like Q Bar or Suzie Wong's. The management's mindset is too focused on Shanghai, it would seem. Sure, Bar Rouge can charge these kind of prices in Shanghai, but in Shanghai it offers excellent views of the Bund, not of an old stadium. For a similar price (and a much, much better view), you can go to Yin and get equally well made drinks overlooking the Forbidden City (or just go to Suzie Wong's, Q Bar, The Saddle, Kokomo, or plenty of other places and pay a lot less).

Klubb Rouge might be able to do a lot of business during the Olympics, but once the Olympics revelers leave, it will go back to being near empty unless things change quickly, like lowering the music and the prices.

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