Shanghai-Inspired Saloon 'Cold Drinks' Debuts At China Live

The Rulebreaker. | Photo: China Live/Cold Drinks
By Nathan Falstreau - Published on June 30, 2017.

San Francisco is getting a new Shanghai-inspired saloon inside the China Live culinary complex at 644 Broadway in Chinatown. 

Cold Drinks, the new 50-seat bar, is the brainchild of beverage director Duggan McDonnell, a veteran barman and author of Drinking the Devil's Acre: A Love Letter From San Francisco and Her Cocktails.

McDonnell—who has run many bar programs in the past, including a stint at the now-closed Union Square lounge Cantina—was inspired by melding the cultures of San Francisco and sister city Shanghai to create a "Shanghai-inspired, scotch-centric bar" at Cold Drinks. 


A post shared by Cold Drinks (@colddrinksbar) on

For the project, McDonnell is working with lead bartender Yong Zhu—a Shanghai native who was previously at Bourbon & Branch—to create the scotch-heavy cocktail menu.

"Scotch has such a huge flavor bandwidth: salt, toffee, spice," McDonnell said. "It can play with so many ingredients, including the unique herbs, spices, and teas of Chinatown."

Although the bar has already gone through a soft opening, the menu is still technically in the research and development phase.

After a long absence, we're back! @yzhu713 rocking the most progressive Scotch backbar #checkyourkilt

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While scotch aficionados may conjure an image of seriousness and poise, Cold Drinks will offer a "nip of whimsy," McDonnell noted; all of the bartenders will be wearing tuxedos tailored by Al Ribaya of Al's Attire.

"Chinatown was once the center of nightlife in the city," he said. "We hope Cold Drinks will return a lost glamour to San Francisco."

While hours of operation have yet to be solidified, the bar will likely be open from 4pm–1am every night.

McDonnell also wanted to share the recipe for one of the bar's signature drinks—the Rulebreaker—with Hoodline readers. 


  • 1 oz tequila blanco 
  • .5 oz single malt Speyside scotch
  • .5 oz cognac 
  • .5 oz salted coconut syrup
  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters
  • 2 dashes orange bitters 

Stir 40 times, strain into crystal glass over a big rock (a whisky ice ball) and garnish with mint bouquet. Serve!

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