In A Massive City, This Bar Serves Up Diverse Drinks — To 8 People At A Time : The Salt Bar Moju in Shanghai is tiny and only serves authentic concoctions created by its owner, Moe. To visit, you must make a reservation.
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In A Massive City, This Bar Serves Up Diverse Drinks — To 8 People At A Time

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In A Massive City, This Bar Serves Up Diverse Drinks — To 8 People At A Time

In A Massive City, This Bar Serves Up Diverse Drinks — To 8 People At A Time

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/507359605/507359606" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Next, a New Year's toast from a bartender in the most populated city of the most populated country on the planet. NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: The bartender's name is spelled M-O-E.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SIMPSONS")

HANK AZARIA: (As Moe Szyslak) Moe's Tavern, Moe speaking.

SCHMITZ: But this bartender is nothing like Moe of "The Simpsons." Her name is pronounced...

MOE: Mo-ee (ph).

SCHMITZ: That's mo-ee. It's short for...

MOE: Geguntanasofya.

SCHMITZ: It's a Mongolian name. That's where she was born. She grew up in Japan, and she's spent her adulthood in Shanghai, where she's lived for 10 years.

MOE: (Through interpreter) I was 20 when I arrived. I went to many bars. I drank a lot, and I spent a lot of money. One day, I thought to myself, with all the money I spend on drinking, I could open my own bar.

SCHMITZ: So that's what she did. Her bar, Moju, is tucked inside a line of shops along a quiet tree-lined avenue in Shanghai.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY, BROTHER, POUR THE WINE")

DEAN MARTIN: (Singing) Here we sit enjoying the shade - hey, brother, pour the wine. Drink the drink that I have made.

SCHMITZ: The sound of Dean Martin crooning in the background, Moe mixes a drink, rattling a cocktail shaker in a frenzy over her head, to her side and behind her back before slamming it down on the bar.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRINK BEING MIXED)

SCHMITZ: Moe's is the tiniest of bars for a city of 26 million. It has room for just eight people along a single counter. Reservations are a must. All the drinks here are her own, and her customers come from all over the world. She speaks to them in Japanese, Mongolian, Russian, Chinese and English.

MOE: (Through interpreter) For me, Shanghai means diversity. Everyone is from somewhere else. When something becomes popular in other countries, it quickly arrives here.

SCHMITZ: Yet to a city with such a mix of people, Moe has dedicated the simplest of New Year's drinks.

MOE: (Through interpreter) It's called the Sakura. It took me half a year to get it right.

SCHMITZ: She makes it Botanist gin, Cointreau triple sec, a twist of lemon and the bright-pink syrup of the cherry blossom flower, an import from Japan.

MOE: (Through interpreter) So there's an old Japanese tale about a Sakura tree that lives for thousands of years. That's my hope for this drink.

SCHMITZ: It's at a good start. In October, she entered the drink in an international competition, beating out dozens of mixologists from around the world to win first prize.

MOE: (Foreign language spoken).

SCHMITZ: She says the other bartenders made very complex and sophisticated drinks, but her simple Sakura beat them all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY, BROTHER, POUR THE WINE")

MARTIN: (Singing) She's coming here to stay. Hey, brother, pour the wine.

SCHMITZ: And that's Moe's New Year's wish for 2017 - that inside this ever-changing and expanding Metropolis and one of the biggest economies of the world, the secret of success - keep it simple.

Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Shanghai.

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