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Lost Down The Rabbit Hole at New Bar Wonderland

Whimsical decor and a lost bunny

After what felt like a dry spell, there was a flurry of hype around the Alice in Wonderland-themed bar Wonderland, a new-ish venture from Johan Holmberg (el Coctel, The Parrot and Funkadeli).

 

Early reviews praised the bar’s cocktails and quirky décor, calling it a refreshing break from bars that resemble cement factories and military bunkers more than places to imbibe. We had high hopes. But after multiple visits, we can only conclude that Wonderland is a gimmick at best, and a bit frightening at worst.

 

Anyone who’s digested Lewis Carroll’s book or film adaptations will be familiar with some imagery from Alice’s magical dimension down the rabbit hole. Wonderland’s decor is a rather messy hodgepodge of those ideas. Feathered top hat lamps, tea party settings, a bathtub of beer and an eye-popping mural from artist Kathryn Robbins are just some of the motifs at play here. The place is also carpeted, which, when you think about, is just weird. And it's in a pattern reminiscent of what you'd find in a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant or the lobby of a 1980's multiplex movie theater. 

 

The drinks are even more inconsistent, save for the price at RMB65 each. A mediocre Absolem Sins capped in a soppy blue dab of “blue orange cream,” is, at best, drinkable, reminiscent of a melted orange Creamsicle. 

 

And any enjoyment one might glean from the minty Mushroom Garden is offset by its off-putting garnish: a skewer of raw mushrooms. (We soon ditched the cocktails and stuck to beer for the rest of the night.)

 

But what’s far more worrying than a slew of unimpressive cocktails is Wonderland’s bad habit of letting a pet rabbit lose under bargoers’ feet each night. We’d spoken to a few guests who said they had seen it first released as a gimmick—“catch the bunny for a free drink”—and was even chased by a few guests. That shtick seems to have dissipated, but when we asked bar staff on our visit about the empty rabbit’s cage, they laughed it off and said the rabbit was “playing,” pointing to the couch under which it was hiding. Right. It’s all fun and games until someone’s stiletto heel turns the poor creature into a bunny kebab.

 

Wonderland might satisfy some drinkers, but for anyone that enjoys good cocktails, not squashing house pets and overall more than just five minutes of novelty, we advise you look elsewhere.

 

Our Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

 

Details

What: Wonderland

Address: 1311 Xinzha Lu (near Shaanxi Bei Lu) 新闸路1311弄 (近陕西北路)

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Mayura Jain
Mayura Jain is a writer, artist and designer based in Shanghai. She has accidentally done some of her best networking while dancing on speakers around the city.

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