June 04, 2020
Mikkeller opens new bars in Shanghai and Tokyo
Mikkeller - like many others - has been seriously affected by the corona-crisis. This month, however, the Danish craft brewery is opening two new bars in Asia.
Mikkeller Shanghai and Mikkeller Kanda (Tokyo) had been planned to open during the spring, but got postponed due to lockdowns. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, CEO and founder of the Danish microbrewery, is of course happy to finally be able to open the two new locations in some of his favorite cities – and to be able to communicate some positive news in the stream of mostly bad.
“The last months have obviously been a very challenging time, and we have been forced to make some tough decisions in the company and among other things have had to close some of our venues. But the fact that we are losing money in some places does not mean that we don’t see the potential of growth and have faith that we can earn some in others”, he says.
Mikkeller Bar Shanghai is Mikkeller’s first bar in China and therefore a big step into an exciting new market. The bar is located in Jing’an, one of the central districts in Shanghai, a ten-minute stroll north from the district’s namesake; Jing’an Temple, an ancient traditional Chinese Buddhist temple.
The area is served by eight metro lines, making it very accessible, and popular for its many bars and restaurants, scattered amongst commercial buildings and residential high rises.
Upcoming beer destination
Jing’an has recently become a popular beer destination most notably with local Shanghai Brew House opening alongside Guinness Gate House. Shanghai beer sales are still very much dominated by big beer brands competing on price and market share and craft beer, although readily available, is still considered a niche product.
Recently, there has been an increase in both local and international beer bars, as well as beer centric bars offering a wider selection of craft beers. Bottle shops offering drink-in have also been a hit for the past five years or so, and overall there has been a noticeable spike in interest amongst the younger local crowd, either familiar with or keen on new beer experiences.
“Mikkeller’s biggest strength, brand recognition aside, are the many varieties of beer styles on offer. Being able to satisfy conventional beer drinkers and beer lovers simultaneously, is exceptional”, says Martin Aamodt, manager and partner of Mikkeller Shanghai.
He has been living in Shanghai for several years and has previously managed a bar for Mikkeller in Copenhagen. He also foresees Mikkeller’s Running Club (MRC) and Cycling Club (MCC) to garner a lot of attention.
Shanghai x Copenhagen
The bar has been designed by Mikkeller’s own designer Camilla Monsrud, who successfully merged elements from Chinese architecture with Scandinavian minimalism. The bar is built in raw materials, utilizing wooden panels, concrete floors and walls combined with beautiful arched doorways in wood.
The wooden furniture and soft lighting create a warm contrast to the concrete elements, allowing for comfortable seating and informal standing areas. The bar has twenty taps, and the menu will consist of xiao chi (small eats) - local beer snacks.
Beer and burgers in Tokyo
Mikkeller Kanda is Mikkeller’s second location in Tokyo. Mikkeller Bar Tokyo opened three years ago and is situated in Shibuya The new combined burger shop and bar is situated in the back corners of Kanda.
Hidden in an alley full of small bars, Hamilton Shields, Mikkeller Tokyo’s manager and partner came across an amazing location. Despite the fact, that the building may quite likely be torn down in just three years, he and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø decided to jump at the possibility of building a bar there.
“We loved it so much, we knew we needed to do something so that this little corner of Kanda wouldn’t go to waste. Although just 20 seconds away from the north exit of Kanda station, you’ll feel very far away from whatever troubles you have out in the world”, says Shields.
Personal and spontaneous
Yusuke Seki, who also designed Mikkeller’s Shibuya location, took on the challenge of the old wooden building and balanced features from the building’s past, including a fire on the third floor, with modern Japanese and Danish elements. He opened up the floor between the second and third stories (fukinuki in Japanese) to make an otherwise narrow and cramped building feel both more spacious and cozy.
The staff has also chipped in, building furniture and making finishing elements like the construction bags, silk screened and filled with insulation, that are ‘walls’ on the first and third floors.
“Our time may be short in this location so we have used as many of the features of the building as possible to highlight what is possible when we cherish Tokyo’s past and use it creatively. We wanted to make the place personal and spontaneous. The little mistakes give it a homey vibe”, explains Hamilton Shields.
On the first floor is a small burger spot. The burgers made with Japanese beef, are unlike any burger you’ve tasted in Tokyo, Shields promises.
Tucked away above the burger shop are two stories of beer bar with 12 taps of rotating craft beer from Mikkeller and other great breweries around the world, along with rare bottle pours, select spirits, and the odd high ball.