Here’s the thing about Hop Sing Laundromat, there’s an air of mystery to the establishment, and for good reason.
If you’re a cocktail lover or even an experience seeker, this Chinatown establishment offers plenty of ways to step into a world where nothing matters but you and your drink—because it breaks down the basics of what a true libation should really stand for—no Instagram post needed (thanks to the no photo rule.)
Speaking of rules, those who want to head to Hop Sing Laundromat should check them out. The speakeasy’s owner Lê runs a tight ship and always has. The bar is set high on the drinks, so, why not on the people as well?
The rules are simple: You don’t sit until your whole party is there. The dress code is strictly no flip-flops, sandals, shorts, work uniforms, gym workout clothes, or any clothing with offensive comments. Everyone must have a valid ID and cash, as that’s all they take. And all guests must provide proof that they have been vaccinated (yes, this one will get you turned away.)
In fact, any disruption of the rules will get you turned away. It’s part of the reason that Hop Sing Laundromat has gotten the reputation of becoming a place to see, it’s hard for some to even get in.
There are additional stipulations before entering the bar, Lê will go over them in the venue’s lobby. One hard no is taking pictures inside of the bar (hence why this article won’t contain many), but you can still be on your phone answering texts or emails if you need. Phone calls, if necessary, should also be done in the lobby.
The bar itself is revealed when you walk through the covered doorway, and it’s interesting what Lê has turned this space into. Before becoming the speakeasy that it is, the space was used as an Indonesian restaurant, and before that a Singapore vegetarian place before it was acquired in 2010 by the cocktail connoisseur.
Hop Sing Laundromat is the epitome of “a mood” with dark red walls (that have been rumored to have real wine mixed in its color) a massive bar area with a spirit selection that requires a ladder to reach for some, a section of tables with candles, lanterns and pictures surrounding them—plus the bar staff eagerly waiting to serve.
Currently, Toby Maloney is manning the bar as part of a residency here in Philly. The James Beard-nominated man of mixing is not just known around the City of Brotherly Love, but also around the country, being the co-founder of the wildly acclaimed Chicago hotspot The Violet Hour and head mixologist for some other gems like The Patterson House in Nashville, and beverage director for Mother’s Ruin and Loverboy in New York City.
Maloney and Lê worked together previously at Grange Hall in NYC years ago. They’ve remained friends, and Maloney has even trained the staff at Hop Sing Laundromat previously. So, you’re dealing with a professional who can get creative and clear about what kind of drink you should be served.
The current model at Hop Sing Laundromat is guided by Maloney (though note this service is done for May and will return in June.) When you sit down at the bar, he explains that over the next two hours, you are going to try a series of cocktails, and they’ll be based on drinks, liquors and flavors that you enjoy.
For this reporter’s experience, there were highlights on Mezcal and Clover Clubs—which Maloney cited as one of the greatest cocktails ever created, and there are no arguments here on that for this Philly-born elixir of egg white, gin, lime and raspberry.
Maloney puts detail into each cocktail, and there’s a lot that goes into each sip. One of the best parts of sitting at the bar is that you’ll likely be watching him make it right in front of you. Garnishes are used for flavor just as much as art here, extra pinches of ingredients are added to help bring out flavor profiles with the theory that you should love each aspect of your drink. And if you don’t, Maloney says to let him know.
The liquor used at Hop Sing Laundromat is high quality and diverse. Lê spent time traveling around the country to almost every single state, and the bar reflects and was inspired by all of that. Lê cites Booker’s Bourbon Whiskey, and the venue happens to be the largest buyer of this top shelf liquor in the country.
To use the Mark Twain quote: “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Well for cocktails, your views will be changed on what you love with spirits from all over, and an appreciation for the detail that goes into each drop is what brings most people coming back.
Currently, Hop Sing Laundromat is available on a first-come, first-served basis, without any reservation fees or minimum for tables. However, at the bar, it’s a $75 charge for a chair (the are cocktails included in that price) to reserve your spot, which you can acquire through a DM on Instagram (@hopsinglaundromat.) You get a two-hour window, so arriving on time is advised for your reservation.
Hop Sing Laundromat is located at 1029 Race St., and is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to midnight. To experience the service with Toby Maloney, visit in June.