We’re spoilt for choice in Hong Kong. Our famously crowded city is stacked and packed with great bars, especially in bustling neighbourhoods like Central and Wan Chai. Whether you prefer to relax over a craft brew, a single malt, a glass of red or a classic cocktail, Hong Kong has an amazing bar guaranteed to have you ordering ‘just one more round’.
Let’s get started. And if we miss your favourite, let us know in the comments.
Hong Kong’s 50 best bars
An osteria and enoteca, with a greater focus on the wine bar side of things, 121BC is a Sydney import that’s adapted well to Hong Kong – the extensive wine list is again curated by Giorgio De Maria, who was awarded Gourmet Traveller’s sommelier of the year for his work with 121BC Sydney, so it’s no surprise.
China’s ‘fire water’ doesn’t have a great reputation outside of the Mainland but Deng G is doing stirling PR to soften the often brutal spirit’s rep. The strong collection on offer here results in cocktails with surprising fruity notes and original flavour combinations.
The tasty Korean comfort food on offer at Edition is hard to resist – the spicy kimchi fries and chicken wings are top tier bar food – but the range of house infused soju are equal winners. Pick from fruity options like lemon and strawberry, or more savoury flavours such as genmai or chrysanthemum tea.
Hong Kong’s 50 best bars
Despite the city’s plethora of high-end Japanese restaurants, a good saké bar is hard to find. Saké Beya Masu is one of the best and certainly one of the most welcoming. The location is like something straight outta Kyoto and both the range of saké and small bites are top notch.
Better known for its pretty fab Italian food, Pirata also serves up a mean series of cocktails. The drinks menu is small but focused and nearly everything on it is a winner, whether the fruity Dolce & Banana or the fiesty Germano Mexicano made with mezcal and fresh ginger. Did we mention there’s a dedicated vermouth bar, too?
The gentrification of Sai Ying Pun was officially underway when Ping Pong popped up in the neighbourhood. A stylish Spanish-style gin bar in a former ping pong hall, the space is gorgeous. Thankfully, just as much thought has gone into the drinks as the swish interior.
Hong Kong’s 50 best bars
With bars like Kowloon Taproom, T.A.P, and The Oak Crafted Yau Tsim Mong is officially the place to be in Hong Kong for craft beer. Best of the lot is this place, a cosy, modern and robustly stocked little beer joint that requires no gimmicks to succeed. If you’re keen on good brews in a pleasant, unfussy atmosphere, make The Madhouse your regular.
If the many super serious cocktail bars littering Central feel too crusty, Honi Honi is here to help. Specialising in tiki drinks, this Wellington Street hangout is a Polynesian beach bar getaway in the heart of the city. The bar is home to the city’s largest collection of rum and the excellent tiki drinks, served in adorable vessels, have made this spot perpetually popular.
In contrast to the traditional aesthetic of The Pottinger hotel and The Envoy itself, the drinks at this other Antonio Lai venture are decidedly futuristic-retro, offering avant-garde millilitres of meticulously measured, shaken and stirred concoctions. The drinks are some of the most eye-catching in all Hong Kong – the Dinosaur, a combination of vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur, fresh milk, Milo ice ball and Milo powder served in a cracked dinosaur egg, is a stunner.
Bitters & Sweets is a far more adventurous proposition that Lan Kwai Fong just down the road. Head mixologist Derek Tsui has prepped a creative menu that includes cocktails like the Snickers (a mix of peanut butter vodka, amaretto, frangelica and cocoa) and February 21st (Campari, pink grapefruit and rose ice). Don’t skip the desserts, though – the smores are a definite winner.
Mezcal is suddenly a thing in Hong Kong and Coa is one of the agave spirit’s best evangelisers. The space is pleasant, even if we’ve seen industrial chic done a 100 times before, but it’s the extensive mezcal and tequila menu where the bar shines. Home to the most extensive and in-depth collection in the city, there’s simply no better place to head if you fancy either spirit or a cocktail based on them.
Hong Kong’s 50 best bars
An upmarket cocktail bar located in the realm of Hong Kong’s least discerning drinkers, in Lan Kwai Fong, Employees Only is helping to raise standards in the neighbourhood. Not only are the drinks of a high standard, the convivial bar staff make it one of the few decent bars in the city where you can have a solid conversation with your bartender.
Hong Kong is stuffed with good whisky bars but, lately, a number of gin specialists have popped up. Way ahead of the curve all along has been Antonio Lai’s Origin. The focus on gin is no gimmick, with an array of tantalising cocktails making good use of the spirit, such as the Green Hornet, made using pandan leaf-infused gin, and the Basil Smash, that features basil-infused gin and bitters.
Housed next to the Police Married Quarters (PMQ) in Central, Aberdeen Street Social is the most ambitious project by the team behind 22 Ships and Ham & Sherry. With a mix of custom classics – think a mezcal old fashioned or an upside-down martini – as well as complex specialities that feature ingredients like blackberry agave, thyme salt, malted soy milk and Lactobacillus casei, Ab Street Social never fails to surprise or delight.
Tradtionally a location more often considered when hungry rather than thirsty (chalk that down to the shadow cast by culinary director Tom Aikens), The Pawn has begun winning serious plaudits for drinks. Credit for that belongs to bar manager Tunny Grattidge’s recent revamp of the Wan Chai heritage spot’s drinks menu. Using botanicals from the venue’s rooftop garden, the drinks run the gamut from light and refreshing to bold and arresting.
Another of Antonio Lai’s projects, Quinary is decked out like an immaculate factory, with concrete-floors, filament lighting and meshed gates. The bar originally made a name for itself in 2012 serving up some pricey, though excellent, drinks. These days, the prices are standard among the city’s top bars but Quinary still remains a cut above when it comes to the quality of its cocktails.
From day one The Woods has justifiably enjoyed a reputation for hardcore, experimental mixology. With a menu bursting with specialist liquors, house-cured ingredients, infusions and hybrids of all kinds, ordering up a drink here is always an exciting proposition. If you’re tired of the classics, head down to The Woods.
Long established as one of the best bars in Hong Kong, if not Asia, the cocktails at Lobster Bar are measured perfectly and the beers come in frosted pewter mugs to add an exceptionally classy touch. No staid hotel bar – the establishment is house in the Island Shangri-la – Lobster Bar is constantly evolving, ensuring it stays among the best of the best.
This buzzing, two-floor bar and Japanese restaurant has outposts in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the USA, such is its quality. There’s a well-stocked bar of Japanese sakes and whiskies. But it’s bar development manager Arkadiusz Rybak and his knack for visually appealing cocktails that’s landed Zuma in the upper eschelons of Hong Kong’s bar scene.
With its grungy aesthetic The Pontiac is almost unique within Hong Kong’s upscale cocktail scene. But it’s not just the dive bar vibes and rock heavy playlist that have made this Old Bailey Street spot such a popular destination. The drinks are spot on, especially the classics, and the staff are among the most fun and engaging in the city.
Hong Kong’s 50 best bars
A self-proclaimed ‘creative cocktail space’, J.Boroski goes above and beyond what a regular bar offers. There’s no menu, instead patrons have their drinks tailored to their requests. Strong or mild? Floral? Herbal? Spicy? It’s entirely up to you. You have to know your preferences here but if you’re au fait with modern mixology, exciting results await.
Launched by a trio of Hong Kong’s finest local talent, The Old Man is a bar that’s prepared to do things its own way rather than rely on imported ideas or talent, no matter how good. Tucked away down an alley on Aberdeen Street, the bar is routinely packed as it mixes innovative drinks with appreciably attentive service. Did we mention the house signatures are a bargainous $90?
Combined bar and restaurant Lily & Bloom is enjoying something of a renaissance with the arrival of John Nugent as head mixologist and Chris Grare as head chef. Nugent’s revamped cocktail menu is full of winners such as the Very Old Cow, a feisty mix of Montelobos mezcal, Aperol aperitivo, Punt e Mes, Luxardo Maraschino and Peychaud’s bitters.
It’s a common complaint that PMQ is used for all the wrong things. Sake Central is another odd fit in the arts/shopping/entertainment venue, but what an odd fit. Offering the best selection of sake in the city, there’s no better place indulge your taste for the Japanese tipple or to start learning about it. The accompanying ‘otsumami’ small bites are divine, too.
Established by master mixologist Masayuki Uchida, Butler is the best place for a quality cocktail in all Kowloon. Uchida has the techniques down perfectly and the spot-lit bar is filled with more than 200 different spirits for all manner of concoctions. The fruit cocktails, in particular, are exceptional, made from fresh produce that’s sliced and juiced on the spot.
Headed by the award-winning ‘bartender-in-chief’ Masahiko Endo, Mizunara is a Japanese-style bar hidden away on the fourth floor of a commercial building on Lockhart Road. Yes, the atmosphere is often restrained, so this is no place to go large, but if it’s exquisite cocktails and attentive service you’re after, you can’t do much better.
Ham & Sherry is a cut above most restaurants but its alcholic adjunct, Back Bar, is the real star. Former bar manager Ryan Nightingale may recently have moved on but the house he helped build has shown no drop in quality since. Every cocktail on the menu is an inventive standout and there are few places better for creative mixology.
Founded by Antonio Lai, the main man when it comes to local mixology, who has more than one establishment on this list, VEA is Lai at his creative best. The menu is divided into four categories – sweet, savory, sour and strong – inspired by the techniques of Europe and Asia, and theories of deconstruction and reconstruction. It sounds pretentious, yes, but Lai’s creations are unlike almost anything else.
Long overlooked as a drinking destination – perhaps not a surprise when your bar is part of the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to have three Michelin stars – 8½ is finally getting credit for its drinks as well as its food. In large part that’s thanks to the excellent Devender Kumar, bar manager and a Barcardi Legacy winner, whose signatures, The Optimist and Pocket Square, are top draw.
When Bar De Luxe opened, expectations were high. After all, the establishment was founded by legendary Japanese bartender Hidetsugu Ueno whose Ginza cocktail bar, Bar High Five, has long featured prominently in any discussion on the world’s best bar. Helmed by the Ueno’s protégé, Yuriko Naganuma, Bar De Luxe hasn’t disappointed. The drinks don’t come cheap but they don’t come any better either.