During the pandemic, Shundra Allison’s love for creating cocktail concoctions as a hobby grew into a brick-and-mortar space where people can enjoy her spirits while listening to sounds she enjoys, including her favorite — old-school hip hop.
BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Shundra Allison said she’s always loved to mix spirits, finding the right combinations to make the perfect cocktail. During the pandemic, her love for the hobby grew as she realized that people were searching for something to look forward to and feel good about.
“People needed something,” Allison said. “Alcohol seemed to be at the top of everyone’s list.”
She decided to spend a bit more time experimenting and sending her concoctions out to family and friends to try. Allison said she enjoyed it and loved the feedback, and along the way, she realized her hobby was much more, and the Urban Drinkery was born.
Today her business includes a brick-and-mortar space where people can enjoy her cocktail creations while listening to sounds she enjoys, including her favorite, old-school hip hop.
Her most popular blends are lemon basil, adding a citrus zest to any spirit, cognac berry, a berry blend and rum lola passion punch.
She says the key to her mixes is to blend the alcohol so it doesn’t overwhelm the drink.
“I am not a fan of tasting a lot of alcohol,” Allison said. “I think blending really well with the juice where you can’t even really taste the alcohol is better.”
Even though the 43-year-old started the business in 2020, she said she sometimes can’t believe how popular her blends and business have become.
“When people started ordering, I was floored,” she said. “Now I have regular customers who order from me often.”
That feeling of awe is what keeps this entrepreneur going when she feels a little discouraged.
“There are ups and downs with any business,” she said. “When I start to feel a little doubt, I just remember that feeling. I start to remember how it all started.”
And hosting customers Wednesday – Saturday at her bar, located at 2184 9th Ave. S, always lifts her spirits.
On an average night, the Urban Drinkery serves about 100 customers. Recently, she partnered with Lost in St. Pete, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to highlighting the local subculture in St. Petersburg, to host a two-day musical festival where about 1,000 people visited the Urban Drinkery over two days.
She loves the chill vibe in her space and the opportunity to help her customers unwind after a hard day.
“Mixing drinks is an art form; it’s creative,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that from the décor to the drinks, everything had a calm, soothing vibe. We put it all together as a way to help improve our customers’ mental health.”
Allison said she always enjoys watching her customers enjoy the atmosphere and the spirits.
“That look on their face when they take a sip,” she said. “When I see them enjoying something that I’ve made. I love to entertain and to gather with family and friends, and when you add spirits to it just makes it more uplifting.”
This highlight is a part of the Green Book of Tampa Bay business owner spotlight. The Green Book is a local directory dedicated to connecting Black-owned businesses with the broader community.