Drinking Age in Shanghai
When visiting Shanghai there are no alcohol laws that are worth considering. There is not a legal drinking age in the city. The bars of the city have hours that are quite irregular, with some not shutting down until well after their two a.m. closing time.
You will find imported and domestic beer available at hotel shops, international restaurants and supermarkets. These places also typically sell wine and spirits. The convenience stores are open 24 hours and will sell inexpensive liquor and beer at any time.
Food in Shanghai
If at all possible you should try to master using chopsticks before visiting the city. While this is not a requirement it does show respect and will make eating much easier for you as often the only utensils that are available will be chopsticks.
Chinese food is typically eaten family style. Every person will serve themselves from a few main dishes that are available. The guest of the home is always served first. You should accept the offering graciously and then reciprocate the serving gesture by serving the host. Always use the communal serving spoon or the chopsticks that are provided with the dish. Never leave your chopsticks sticking out of your bowl, always sit them on the side when you are not using them. It is extremely important to never criticize any of the food in front of the host.
Dinner is typically accompanied with tea and your cup of tea is going to be topped up constantly throughout the meal. You should acknowledge the topping up by tapping your fingers on the table lightly. You can also feel free to top up other people’s cups of tea as well. However, after the first time that you do this your host will likely remove the teapot from your reach.
When invited to someone’s home it is important to bring a gift, fruit is typically quite welcome. You should remove your shoes at the front door.
During banquets and other meals drinking is quite common. During a banquet the toasts are typically made with baijiu. This is a Chinese spirit that is quite potent. Shouts of gan bei are typically heard during the toasts. This literally means dry glass or bottoms up. If you cannot keep up make sure that you do not drain your glass as it will be refilled immediately and spark yet another round of drinking. You should always return the toast even if you have to do so with sparkling water, tea, or beer.
It is important to make sure that you toast your host or the person that is paying for the meal and drinks. If you are unsure of who is paying you can wait until the bill is paid to make the toast. However, it is important to make sure that you toast this person before the evening is over or the group will be quite offended. It is also a good idea to make a toast to all of the older patrons that are present as the elderly are deeply respected in China.