Just imagine, you're sitting on a very regal leather upholstered chair, in your hand, a Glencairn Glass filled to just the right amount of the finest single malt whisky. Neat, of course. Then, when you raise a cigar to your lips, a beautiful women in an Old Shanghai style dress lights it for you. When this happens, you know it's the moment to call your dad to inform him that you've made it.
Well, this is the only place in Hangzhou where this dream has any chance of becoming a reality.
As you walk through the grand, metal latticed entrance and up the stairs, you arrive into a step-down, basement-style bar. The well thought out design of the bar, along with the non-intrusive music, helps to create the perfect atmosphere. Behind the bar, illuminated by low hanging, cut crystal decanter light shades, are three floating wall shelves housing an abundance of luxury single malts.
Smoky bar really is for the sincerest of ladies and gentlemen, perhaps the ones with a fine taste for an exceptional single malt or a sophisticated cocktail. But what I like the most about Smoky bar is that you don't have to be a whisky aficionado, because they are. You are guaranteed only the finest of spirits, so it's just down to what tickles your fancy; and if you ask the bar staff (or the emphatically passionate owner, Eddie) to send a bit of advise your way, they'll be more than happy to help you chose.
The whiskies range in age, origin, brand, and price, from the Old Pulteney 12 years old (49RMB per glass, 790RMB per bottle), Glenfarclas, ranging in age from 10YO to 40YO (45-799RMB per glass, 790 - 12900RMB per bottle), to a very fine Highland Park 18 YO whisky (119RMB or 2090RMB per bottle).
Smoky also offers a range of truly exceptional cocktails, all for 70RMB. This includes a James Bond Martini (need I say more?), Dark and Stormy: a Gosling Dark Rum, lemon and homemade ginger beer infusion, and Oriental Note: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Dita Lychee liqueur, peach puree, and Prosecco blend.
Smoky isn't just about having the finest evenings, it's also about spreading the passion for the finest spirits.
There is plenty of parking on site and smoking indoors is permitted -- although the establishes best suits pipes and cigars. The menu is in both English and Chinese.
The Second Bite:
Having been open for almost a year now, Smoky has gained a reputation as one of Hangzhou’s front runners in the whiskey and cocktail bar scene, offering a relaxed, yet refined environment in which to enjoy a nice glass of whiskey or an expertly made cocktail (70RMB and above). After being closed earlier this year for some renovations, doors have been re-opened to bring us the new Smoky 2.0.
Much will be recognisable to anyone who has been here before. The long bar provides sanctuary for a selection of whiskeys and spirits a man could only dream of possessing, and the comfortable leather seating acts as the ideal position from which to enjoy a scotch and cigar and while away the evening.
Then you notice some more unfamiliar aspects: the lighting is turned up a notch, tables have been laid, and waitresses offer a third menu in addition to cocktail and whiskey lists. That’s right, Smoky is now in the business of food – more specifically, Japanese cuisine. A whole new section (non-smoking) has even been opened in the back to allow for the extra demand. Soon, you begin to see that Smoky is as passionate about Japanese food as it is about whiskey.
A selection of cooked dishes including Potato Salad (28RMB), King Prawn Tempura (60RMB for 3) and Grilled Ox Tongue (58RMB) were all cooked excellently, as well as being presented attractively. However, the cuts of raw fish were simply out of this world. Huge chunks of Salmon Sashimi (58 RMB), Oysters, Scallops and (for the more adventurous) Sea Urchin (priced daily) straight off the boat and onto your plate; it would be a shame to cook seafood this fresh.
I was given the run down on which were the best days to get the seafood just as it came through the door, proving my assumptions about the quality of the seafood were right. Daily specials are available, giving you an even greater opportunity to enjoy excellent seafood at affordable prices, including half-priced Oysters on Tuesdays and by-one-get-one-free every day after 10 o’clock, half-priced Salmon Sundays and Botan Shrimp on Wednesdays.
So, next time you come in search of that special blend of whiskey, or a well-made cocktail, take advantage of Smoky’s new love affair with a plate of some the best the sea has to offer.