Monthly Archives: June 2019

Jun 20

Wooden Paradise review: artisan cocktails and a polished aesthetic in Shanghai, Kunming – 木制天堂上海酒吧评论

By Mitchell Blatt | China , Drinking , Reviews

Kevin came from Yunnan to Shanghai and opened Wooden Paradise (63-3 Fuxing Xi Lu) in order to give cocktail lovers “a place to relax … where they can feel like they have returned home.”

Wooden Paradise (木制天堂)2014年开的,是一个“让人放松舒适的地方,让我们的客人有中回家的感觉”的鸡尾酒吧。

I first visited Wooden Paradise shortly after it opened in 2014. I read about it in a lifestyle magazine’s review of the best cocktail bartenders in Shanghai. It said Kevin made a mean spicy cocktail.

Located in a small, cozy shophouse in the French Concession, Wooden Paradise really lived (and lives) up to its name. The tables were simple but elegant and polished. The decor was refined and natural.

True to the review and to Kevin’s Yunnan background, his “Spicy Paradise” cocktail, with Russian vodka and pepper liquor, in addition to citrus fruits and leaves, was a flavor sensation. As Kevin said, “I am from Yunnan. Besides classic cocktails, we also created some cocktails with the flavors of Yunnan and Southeast Asia.”

Endless Summer (无尽的夏日) cocktail

Wooden Paradise Mule 木制天堂骡子

Thai ginger, lemongrass, lemon leaves, vodka, Malibu coconut liquor, fresh lemon juice, ginger beer, spicy pepper liquor. “Sweet and sour and a little bit spicy, it’s refreshing and tasty.”


Cachaça Lemongrass Cooler 柠檬草酷乐

Cachaça, Thai lemongrass, lime, ginger-flavored soda water. “Refreshing sweet and sour, smooth drinking, and fragrant lemongrass flavor.”


Spicy Paradise 辣味天堂

Russian vodka, a slice of lime, basil leaves, spicy pepper liquor, fresh pineapple and lemon leaves. “Refreshing sweet and sour, a moderate level of alcohol, smooth drinking with a touch a spiciness and rich fruit flavor.”


XYZ cocktail

Wooden Paradise has renovated a little bit since it first opened, but always kept the same classic speakeasy style. You can enter either through a backdoor in the courtyard that evokes old Shanghai, or by stepping through a window on the outside, stepping into the “paradise” of varnished wood and Yunnan artwork under the dimmed lights.

“Because many people like furniture made of wood, this kind of furniture that is warm in winter and cool in summer, we used wood to create this comfortable place where people can relax, where our customers can feel like they have returned home,” Kevin said.

“我们是2014年开的,因为大多人喜欢木制家具,冬暖夏凉,我们用木制来制造一个让人放松舒适的地方,让我们的客人有种回家的感觉!” 老板Kevin说过了。

Kevin sharing a drink with a guest.

Kevin remains his hospitable self. Too hospitable, maybe. Last time I visited with a colleague, he gave us enough free shots and sample cocktails before we left to make my colleague puke outside the courtyard. He said he had a good time, though.

Kevin has also opened a branch of Wooden Paradise in his native Yunnan in the Wenhua Xiang (Cultural Alley) district of Kunming, nearby Yunnan University. “That one is larger,” Kevin said, and it includes Western food, as well as cocktails.

Wooden Paradise – Shanghai

63-3 Fuxing Xi Lu (Changshu Road station or Shanghai Library station)


Wooden Paradise – Kunming

10 Wenhua Xiang

Jun 04

Images from 9,000 meters above the Arctic Ocean

By Mitchell Blatt | Photos , Travel

Flying from Beijing to Washington, DC, I had a window seat, and for most of the flight, there were clear views. I always find it interesting to look out at life below. On this flight, I also had a chance to look down at lack of life. The flight took a route over Russia and passed over the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska before passing over Yukon and the Northwestern Territories (seems to be similar to the A218 route). The vastness of the empty space, pure snowfields for miles, is mystical. But so, too, is the view high above cities and farmland, roads extending to the horizon, thoughts of what so many people are doing on the ground 30,000 feet below. It is interesting to look out the window with the flight’s live tracking map on, as you can see just about where you are. Comparing the lay of the land in China and the U.S., you can learn a little about urban planning.

I begin to notice the view as the plane is flying over Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province. With a population of 38 million, it is one of China’s lesser-populated provinces, and the sixth least populated by density.
A short time later, the plane flies over Harbin, the capital city. By Chinese standards, Harbin is not a huge city, but it is not small. The population of its urban center is about 5 million. I was looking out the right side of the plane, towards the east, so it appears the view is of the eastern suburbs. The downtown area is to the west of Harbin’s administrative area, which would probably be out the other window or under the plane.
The Far Eastern Federal District has a population of 8.3 million, smaller than the population of the entire Harbin administrative district. Its population density of 1.2 people per square kilometer is less than half that of Tibet. Just two cities have populations larger than 500,000.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is about 1,000 miles away from here.
The airline’s flight tracker showed we were near Cape Dalhousie, at the northern tip of the Northwest Territories. It may have been some other ice feature in Liverpool Bay. Sir John Franklin explored this area between 1825-1827, helping to map the coast and the Mackenzie River.
I zoomed in for this one. I was admiring the textures on the ground.

The total population of the Northwest Territories is 41,786. That’s a population density of 0.04/sq km. (And that’s only the second smallest in Canada.) Yellowknife, its capital city (located in the southern half of the territory), has a population of 19,569.
My inflight TV console had malfunctioned by this point in the flight, so I’m not sure what town exactly this is. It’s either in Pennsylvania or Maryland. According to the flight route, one possibility is Hagerstown, MD. It looks like much of the Eastern United States. Compare the layout of the roads in this small city to those of Harbin. This American city appears to have more subdivisions, more curved and disconnected roads, than Harbin, which has more of a block-by-block layout.
We descend into the Virginia/DC suburb area. My phone dies after taking this shot.