This one's already been burning up our WeChat moments feed for a minute now. Even crazier than the decor: the cocktail prices.
What It Is: A cocktail bar with a rambling menu, a silly terrace and an interior designed by a rabid Alice in Wonderland enthusiast. It's been red-pilled directly onto the sidewalk of Xinzha Lu by Johan Holmberg (el Coctel, Funkadeli) and his partners-in-sanity, sans fanfare, sans soft-opening, just *thwack*, here, have a new bar.
The look is the product of the bristle-mustached Swede behind the bar, presumably coming up with as many as six design elements before breakfast, and it's both colorful and 'colorful.' There're fish and turtles under the floor by the bathroom, which has two toilets but no dividing cubicle. The bar-front is decorated with shagtastic faux fur. So is the wall, behind the bathtub full of beers. There's a massive mural by creative person Kathryn Robbins. Alice doesn’t feature anywhere because, to quote the fed-up Scandinavian bartender, "she just complained all the time." The terrace outside is covered in sand.
The cocktail list references Lewis Carroll in wacky spirit if not all direct homages. Although there're plenty of those too, like the Mushroom Garden and the Wonderland Rule (served in a teacup), but also Chocolate Martini and a Mexican Colada, all for 65rmb. Or get four signature cocktails in a tea set for 200rmb. That's called a Mad Tea Party. If you don't want cocktails, there's the bathtub full of beers mentioned earlier. The menu is set to change almost constantly, rotating drinks out according to people's preferences, but mostly the whims of the flat-capped descendant of abbey plunderers brandishing the cocktail shaker.
There're plans to get the kitchen up and running, slinging nibbles and sharing platters, but they're still looking for a chef who's willing to play along with the bar's founding principle. Might be a month or two before that happens.
First Impressions: 65rmb! Now for 65rmb, I'm willing to forgive a lot in a cocktail, and Wonderland doesn't need much forgiving. I really enjoyed them. Well-made, unboring, unpretentious, even with rose petal garnishes. The Mushroom Garden was sweet, fresh and minty, the mushrooms kind of work like a palette cleanser. The Wonderland Rule was a like a rosy gin and tonic with its pinky stuck out. Also they're 65rmb.
It feels weirdly authentic for a place with such an in-your-face gimmick. Think they were tired of boring pretentious bars so they threw up a ridiculous pretentious bar that's completely unpretentious. Maddening, I know. They painted ‘We’re All Mad Here’ behind the bar and they put the Johnny Depp version in the mural because why not. It's not going "Mad Tea Party, Wonderland, get it?," it's going “here, drink this ostentatiously frilly fruity drink in a porcelain tea set, or grab a beer from the bathtub, whatever, man. Go chill on the terrace and get over yourself." That attitude might rub some people the wrong way, but the tagline is "it's not for everybody." No hard feelings if you're not a fan, I guess.
So yeah. It's a fun, dumb, cool bar with a good vibe that takes being unserious super seriously or vice versa with great cocktails at a low price (yes, sorry, 80rmb is the new standard). Jabberwocky, "off with her head," Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.