Shenzhen Bar Review: Oil Club

By Bailey Hu, December 20, 2017

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Oil Club looks too nice to be an edgy electronic music venue. The walls may be unadorned concrete but the black bar top is immaculate, and panels suspended from the ceiling cast everything in a warm glow.

On a weekday night, with only a handful of customers populating the cocktail bar, it’s hard to imagine that experimental music parties – nightwave and grime one week, dub techno the next – are held at the club next door.

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But maybe that’s the point. Co-founder Sun Huiyuan tells us Oil Club is designed to be a new kind of venue in Shenzhen. While the nightclub portion, concealed behind an unmarked black door, hosts weekend raves, the bar lets music lovers drink to the dull thrum of house beats on a Thursday evening.

Plus, the cocktails aren’t bad. We first try the Catcher in the Rye (RMB78), a gimmicky sounding glass that’s presented inside a smoke-filled bell jar. Mist swirls over the surface of the tart, bourbon-sweet drink, leaving a faint woody smell on our fingertips, scarves and hair.

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The RMB88 Take a Break is a more genteel sip, mixing gin and tea in a porcelain cup. It tastes inexplicably milky and subtly sweet, yet still packs a boozy punch.

We also try a dry martini (RMB78), a classic which, along with customized cocktails, must be specially requested. Like the other drinks it’s strong yet smooth, if of moderate portion size.

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As we sip Sun turns on a projector, illuminating the walls of the bar with images of multicolored, moving clouds. A group of laborers arrives with a towering potted plant to be placed in a corner.

It’s clear that the four-month-old bar is still a work in progress. But, given top-notch drinks and eye-catching DJ lineups, we’re excited to see where Oil Club will go from here.

Price: RMB50-90 per drink  
Who’s going: electronic music lovers, cool kids  
Good for: upscale cocktails, secret raves  
Nearest metro: Xiasha (Exit D), 5 minutes

See listing for Oil Club. Follow official WeChat 'OIL油' for updates on parties.

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