We're looking at three new cocktail bars this week. Ginetics returns in a new location for gin aficionados; Dentree is the new one from MUSE Group; and Camera Stylo combines film adoration with great cocktails.
Booze: It's what's for dinner.
Here's a look inside the new Ginetics two-point-oh, the little gin bar that could. Opened in 2021 at a storefront location just around the corner from Found 158, that space was shuttered last July. That whole area is being ear-marked for urban development. (Shanghai needs another mall, eh.) The team behind this one is the same — just a group of interesting friends that like to drink interesting gin cocktails with other interesting friends, really. The laidback but quirky personality of the first one has successfully made the move over. They've also added another skilled cocktail shaker in the form of John from Bar Beagle to punch up the drinks.
The new Ginetics is on Nanchang Lu and they've lucked out because the new spot — also a converted storefront — is a bigger, lounge-ier, and more comfortable place to drink lots of gin in. Fans and regulars will recognize the signature let-them-eat-KTV chandelier and they've got a really comfortable bar to sidle up on, as well as ample table space.
Gin is the order on the menu and it comes across in signature cocktails and however else you like to imbibe. The "Ginetics" cocktail has a nice bitterness to it and the "Valley Girl", made with Malibu, tastes like drinking really delicious suntan lotion. That doesn't sound like a compliment but it is. You should get it. Other interesting labels that you should try: the Monkey 47, the Gin MG Strawberry gin (sounds like it wouldn't be good but it's the exact opposite), Apostles Argentinian gin, and the Nordés super clear gin — that's enough to get started.
Ginetics is a special little gin bar and you should give them all your love and money. It's a welcoming little scene place catering to creative types who also like to drink and chat — the best kind of people, really. When we visited they had a pop-up stick-and-poke tattoo event. Which was neat. They're also hosting in guest DJs for special one-off parties, some pop-up food events down the line, and coffee during the day if you're in the neighborhood.
Signature cocktails, 88rmb. Other gins, 85-130rmb. Don't forget to get the gummy bears. It's kind of their thing. You can get them in your gin or on a lil' plate on the side to snack on. If you draw a nice one, they'll even put it on the wall.
Dentree comes to us riding some big names in the cocktail biz. It's actually "Dentree presented by Remy Cointreau and Hope & Sesame". So. Yeah. Fancy, fancy.
Hope & Sesame won international acclaim as Guangzhou's first speakeasy, opening back in 2016, and has for the past number of years popped up on Asia's Top 50 Bars list, a really totally scientific list that determines without question what all the best bars are everywhere. They're known for pyrotechnics in cocktail glasses — infusions, clarifications, in-house distillation — dry ice, centrifuges, whiz, bag, pow. For Dentree, they've done the drinks, partnering with the MUSE group (The Nest, The Cannery), who have ensconced it all in that chilly, breezy, forrest-y, icy Nordic thing they do.
Dentree is in Anken Air, assuming the spot of Egg 2. You walk about 100 meters down that lane of 100% China realness off Zhenning Lu and into this perfect oasis of modern commercial design that is about 100,000% China realness these days. The bar space is really nice. Designed by OHA Design, it's a real good lookin' bar. Clean and simple. And with this cool, mesmerizing light panel lighting up the bottles.
Themes of sustainability and carbon neutrality run through the entire thing almost to the point of parody. The mission statement on the first page of the menu elucidates that they're doing things like reducing plastics, growing their own herbs and spices, installing solar panels for energy, and employing a "Head of Sustainability" to institute positive changes to the operation whenever possible. Feel good about drinking 118rmb cocktails again.
Signature cocktails are over a dozen broken up into some esoteric categories — "Forward", "Adaptogens", "Hybrid", "Supply Food", "Locally Sourced" — and are sufficiently arcane. The "Adjusted Bamboo" makes use of "underused protein such as insects". And also has umami in it. The "Heartwood Negroni" has caramelised bone marrow. The "Suenos" used Mezcal infused with ants and comes garnished with a large homemade gummybear. Which is, hey! Kinda crazy!
Post-apocalyptic, insect eating zaniness also features in the bar bites section, in particular the "The Odd Bits", which is a collection of seven tapas-ish plates that feature the following: Venison Heart, Sturgeon Caviar & Bone Marrow, Cockscomb, Pigs Brain, Bamboo Worms, and even Sweetbreads, among others. Adventurously sustainable!
Cocktails between 98tmb and 118rmb and food around 60rmb to 120rmb per plate. Definitely an interesting spot to check out if you're a fan of the "Top 50 Bars" style of vested cocktail reverence. It feels like familiar terrain and then you start reading these ingredients... and it's something else.
Where else are you gonna get a plate of Wagyu Sweetbreads or Venison Heart Tartar?
We were sleeping on Camera Stylo — they opened last September, we think —but no longer. Here's another hole-in-the-wall cocktail bar recommendation. This place is really good. This one's in Jing'an at the northern end of Yanping Lu right next to Mokkos. Camera Stylo, yeah. We like these little places that feel like their owners have other creative interests outside the F&B world proper and then one day they just decide to communicate said interest to the world in bar format.
This is a good strategy: If you're going to open a bar, have a passion for literally anything else interesting in the world first. And then just serve drinks in it.
The primary interest at Camera Stylo: film and film making. It definitely feels like a place that was opened by a failed university film major. A failed film major from Hong Kong maybe. Hopefully, they haven't even actually failed yet and this is just their side gig while they're make hit movies. Classic and modern classic film posters adorn the walls: Rashomon, Chan Is Missing, Trainspotting, and more. Someone is a fan of auteurs. Quentin Tarantino and Stanley Kubrick are well represented. It's a simple, one-room place with a nice bar and some table seating. Furniture is very vintage, some of it coming from an old theater or something. That's a nice touch. Coffee by day; drinks by night.
Specialty cocktails are of course cult film-themed but they go the extra mile. Drinks are served with a little graphic card inspired by the movie and a little toy to round out the experience. The Shinning themed one comes with a lil' axe. Other films you can enjoy in cocktail format: Pulp Fiction, The Room, Chungking Express, The Big Lebowski (of course), and Kikujiro, among others. (Some obvious ones and some deep cuts.) Damage is 88rmb a cocktail.
Camera Stylo first opened in Beijing some years back and transports that city's far more developed community DIY aesthetic down to Shanghai in the form of interesting film screenings, scriptwriting workshops, and other events for local DIY film makers and fans thereof to meet likeminded people. If you make or write or watch films, slot this one into your bar rotation.
Meet some new friends. Meet some new drinks.