Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out at The Drinkery

By Sophie Steiner, June 24, 2021

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Like the counterculture-era phrase popularized by Timothy Leary (the father of psychedelics), The Drinkery – Shanghai’s newest casual hangout bar, reminiscent of an old school house party – embodies the motto, “turn on, tune in and drop out.” Even the logo is a damn light switch. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Started by bar consultant and mixologist Ilyà Khokhlov (Ray'sBotanical Basket) and his partners Igor Mustafaev and Becky Wang, the three launched the venue to embody the space they want to head to after a long night working behind a bar. Situated on Ruijin Er Lu, just south of Huaihai Lu, the bay doors open to the street, with guests spilling out while still vibing to music that feels like Elevator light. Like if Elevator took a Xanax. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Everything goes here. Drink what you like, do what you feel, be who you want; the key is to remain chill. You can do this by partaking in free shots. Yes, you read that right: free daily shots that you serve yourself via a light switch with an attached nozzle on the wall opposite the bar. Flavors change daily, and it's first come first serve. Keep the party ambience going.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The menu itself is about simple cocktails and affordable bar snacks – no wheel reinvention. If you want a foofy drink that involves rotovap this, infused that, and molecular gastronomy-level garnishes, look elsewhere. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The menu is divided into what sort of night you’re looking to have – “I Gotta Work Tomorrow” drinks are lower ABV, like Aperol Spritz (RMB36) and Better than Hendricks Gin Tonic (RMB36), while “Getting There” bevvies are heavier hitters, like My Tinder Crush (RMB48) with kaffir lime-infused tequila, elderflower cordial and prosecco, or a Basil Smash (RMB48)

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Shots come in orders of six for RMB98, regardless of whether you choose straight booze, a liqueur or a mixer shot. There also are a few wines, lager on tap and some higher end brands with pours available by the glass. Or you can buy the whole bottle for RMB748-1,248.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

While all the cocktails range from RMB36-48, that’s not to say they are poor quality. In fact, the owners’ experience, passion and thoughtfulness come through in the details – a citrus essence on the rim of a glass, a quick infusion of fig leaf, a spiralized orange peel garnish – that take an everyday libation and make it just a bit better, really raising that value bar. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Live DJs will become a regular thing, roughly every week or two, with regular themed parties that always circle back to the Shanghai expat community through art, jokes and local memes. The concept is essentially, “there are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

This unpretentious bar isn’t necessarily a destination, but it’s the kind of place you end up at time and again because it delivers what you want without the extra fluff.


This Saturday, June 26 will be their first activation (aka a Grand Opening Party, for those who want to just call it what it is). From 3pm to late, they will have a stellar DJ lineup, playing everything from techno to disco to hip hop to funk. Cheap and cheerful bar snacks, like toasties and hot dogs, will also be on offer to kick off the food menu that they plan to continue to expand throughout the summer. Swing through to switch on at The Drinkery.  

See a listing for The Drinkery.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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