The 51 best Hong Kong bars
Although the recent departure of Yuriko Naganuma, who lead the way at Bar De Luxe since it opened in early 2017, is a loss, we’re confident this most exquisite of cocktail bars can maintain its own high standards. In typical Japanese fashion, the classics are the bar’s forte, but whatever you order, your drink is always made with perfect precision. Order anything. You won’t be disappointed.
Long overlooked as a drinking destination – 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, threaten to overshadow the food.
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.
Launched by a trio of Hong Kong’s finest local talent, The Old Man is the most talked about bar in the city these last 18 months or so. Rated one of the top 10 best bars in the world, this tucked away spot mixes innovative drinks with appreciably attentive service. The only black mark is how hard it is to get a seat these days.
The most successful 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 The bar originally made a name for itself in 2012 serving up some pricey, though excellent, drinks.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 more standard among the city’s top bars, but Quinary remains a cut above when it comes to the continually outstanding quality of its cocktails.
PDT’s official opening in Hong Kong in early 2018 may not have generated quite the same buzz as when the bar popped up in the Landmark MO two years prior, but the cocktails are still of exceptional quality. As exciting as the drinks, the bar snacks, created by Richard Ekkebus, culinary director of Michelin-starred Amber, are also top drawer. Ekkebus’s sumptuous Takoyaki Tots go with anything.
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.
Mezcal is suddenly a thing in Hong Kong and Coa is the agave spirit’s best evangelist – the extensive mezcal, tequila and raicilla menu here is the best of its kind in the city. Owner and founder Jay Khan is a local boy done good. Hugely affable and incredibly knowledgeable about mixology and agave spirits, he can help you choose the perfect drink, even if you’re not familiar with this sort of liquor.
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 to indulge your taste for the Japanese tipple or to start learning about it. The accompanying ‘otsumami’ small bites are divine, too.
One of our favourite new openings in 2018, The Wilshire is another of Hong Kong’s ‘hidden’ gems. Tucked away at the back of Mexican restaurant 11 Westside – beyond the restaurant’s own bar and two large, frosted glass doors – this is a relaxed speakeasy (though the owners wouldn’t call it that) with charming bar staff and a focused menu of classic cocktails given intriguing spins. If you’re in Kennedy Town seeking a drink, this should be your first call.
Buried inside The Pottinger, in Central, Room 309 is an Aladdin’s cave of delights. Antonio Lai demonstrated he has lost none of his touch with this, his first new concept in nearly three years. Almost everything from the bar’s ‘invisible menu’ is worth ordering – and for the flavours too, not just the gimmick of their transparent appearance.
This Wyndham Street haunt is a local institution. The Edwardian-style bar has prospered thanks to a broad whisky collection and a regularly refreshed cocktail menu that constantly features various inventive tipples. The new (as of December 2018) cocktail menu inspired by Darwin’s Origin of the Species is a stunner.
An establishment from the team behind Mrs Pound and Foxglove, Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour is home to – who’d have thought – an impressive collection of more than 250 premium gins. A great place for a casual tipple in the plush surrounds of the Landmark, staff also shake up an array of imaginative libations and are happy to accomodate specific requests from more discerning customers.
Better known for its Michelin-starred cuisine, Duddell’s ‘Salon’ bar happens to serve drinks well worth taking a break from your cha siu bao for. The drinks menu recently underwent a significant revamp and is now full of winners thanks to the efforts of bar manager Masumi Tomioka and JIA Group’s beverage specialist James Barker. Almost everything is worth trying once.
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.
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 Zuma’s knack for visually appealing cocktails that’s landed it in the upper echelons of Hong Kong’s bar scene.
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 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 spot, Lobster Bar is constantly evolving, ensuring it stays among the best of the best.
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.
Despite the high standards of the likes of Mizunara and Butler, cocktail and whisky bars are dime a dozen in Hong Kong. Whisky & Words dispenses with the clichés typical of these sorts of establishments and simply aims to serve quality cocktails and (of course) whisky in more relaxed surrounds. The lo-fi hip-hop soundtrack is great and when it gets busy, the action here spills out onto the steps of Shin Hing Street, forming a relaxed street party vibe.
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. Try the Green Hornet, made using pandan leaf-infused gin, or the Basil Smash, which features basil-infused gin and bitters.
Housed next to the Police Married Quarters 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 other complex specialities, Ab Street never fails to surprise or delight.
Bitters & Sweets is a far more adventurous proposition than 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.
A diamond among the tourist tat of Upper Lascar Row, Blue Supreme is Hong Kong’s classiest craft beer bar. Decorated with dark teal walls, wooden furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows, there’s a specifically curated range of around 50 high quality brews, with a big focus on beers from Belgium. Be sure to order something to eat while you’re there as Blue Supreme pays equal care and attention to its food menu.
The most gorgeous of Tai Kwun’s three bars (the others being Behind Bars and Dragonfly) is also its best. Though classic in its colonial stylings, the cocktail menu here is a playful one, split between western-inspired tipples and Chinese-inspired ones. Both sides of the menu offer fine drinks and starting with an aperitif here is the perfect way to relax into a meal at neighbouring restaurants Statement and The Chinese Library.
Traditionally 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.
A self-proclaimed ‘creative cocktail space’, there’s no menu at J. Boroski, instead, patrons have their drinks tailored to their requests. Strong or mild? Floral? Herbal? Spicy? It’s entirely up to you. Standards have slipped somewhat since the bar’s early days but the design is still gorgeous and the drinks better than most.
In contrast to the traditional aesthetic of The Pottinger hotel and The Envoy itself, the drinks at this 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.
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.
With the departure this year of head mixologist John Nugent – a man who did much to reinvigorate the bar area at Lily & Bloom – the future is uncertain here. Nugent’s revamped cocktail menu remains, however, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that, after a tumultuous year which almost saw the venue close, the remaining staff carry on his good work.
Tucked away on the ninth floor of The Loop building on Wellington Street, I Know John is something of a hidden gem serving up craft cocktails, gourmet hotdogs and niche wines and whiskies. If the libations don’t win you over, the friendly staff are sure to.
An upmarket cocktail bar located in Lan Kwai Fong, the realm of Hong Kong’s least discerning drinkers, 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.
An open-air lounge in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, Vibes is one of the most relaxing locales to pick up a cocktail in Kowloon. Though, if you need to kick things up a notch, Thursday to Saturday from 8pm a DJ take to the decks to up the atmosphere.
The restaurant downstairs may get most of the headlines – not without justification since it is ranked one of Asia’s 50 Best – but Upstairs at Belon deserves some love too. Inspired by the creative speakeasies in Paris’ hip Le Marais district, head mixologist Axel González serves a solid range of cocktails in cosy surrounds. Whether or not you can get a booking downstairs, don’t overlook this lesser-known gem.
A surprisingly spacious bar (for Central, anyway), The Globe is one of the best places in Hong Kong to settle in with a pint. A member of the Craft Beer Association of Hong Kong and home to more beers than you can shake a stick at, The Globe is a must visit for any hop head.
Whenever you’re in need of a drink in Kowloon, Alibi should be in your thoughts. Probably the most sophisticated bar in Mong Kok, resident mixologist, Leo Cheung previously worked at Butler (see the top 10 of this list) and clearly he was taught well. A similar quality shines through in all Cheung’s drinks.
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.
A cosy space, Le Quinze Vins offers patrons a long list of French labels as well as serving traditional cheese and cold cut platters and other wine-enhanced nibbles. The number of bottles on offer is extensive but the by-the-glass options are none too shabby.
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 as well as 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.
With its ‘fragrance laboratory’ and flavour infusions craft beer bar The Artist House might be some real ale purists’ worst nightmare. However, the truth is it’s one of Hong Kong’s best beer bars. It’s stunningly cheap – a very reasonable $48 each for a 330ml bottle – and the four standard offerings – blonde, IPA, white and raspberry – are all very good. Look past its gimmicks and this is a great place to get some suds.
An intimate and always buzzing space on Hollywood Road, La Cabane is a great space for anyone seeking an extensive wine list – 350 different wines from France and the New World sourced directly from individual wine makers. The kitchen is open until 11pm and the nibbles are worthwhile too.
Found on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, M Bar offers fantastic views as well as small batch spirits and liqueurs that are handcrafted in-house. There’s nothing terribly innovative going on here, but staff know their business and do the classics well.
The artwork at Bibo often overshadows what is a genuinely good bar and restaurant. Keep it simple here with the likes of the award-winning D1 & TT cocktail, a combination of D1 gin, a blend of five citrus juices, tonic and passion des fleurs tea.
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 departure of former bar manager Ryan Nightingale meant a complete revamp of the menu at Back Bar. Gone are all the old movie-themed favourites like Ron Burgundy and Reservoir Grogs. Instead, there’s a new menu of more Chinese-themed tipples like the Don’t ‘Lai Cha’ Me, a mix of vodka, amaretto, tea, vanilla and evaporated milk. Good, but not as great as before.
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.
A cunningly hidden Lan Kwai Fong hideaway, Brickhouse is also one of the area’s best bars. The short list of cocktails, pisco sours and all, might not be much to write home about, but the extensive list of tequila on the other hand...
After a recent refurbishment Q88 is now a sleek place to chill. The lineup of cocktails is sound but the main attraction is the ability to order some 40 choices of wine by the glass and nearly 200 by the bottle, making it one of the top spots in town for some vino.
Aptly named for its blue colour scheme and cool feel, Blue Bar sits within the Four Seasons, providing first class service and harbour views. Hotel bars don’t usually inspire much confidence but the classics, especially the martinis, are done particularly well here.
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 curated by Giorgio De Maria, who was awarded Gourmet Traveller’s sommelier of the year for his work with 121BC Sydney, so you know you’re in good hands.
Its PR prattle may describe The Chase as a ‘multi-faceted dining and mixology destination’ but, fortunately, there are no gimmicks here. What you get is a drinks menu that’s a straightforward list of wines, beers and decent cocktails. Best of all, though, there’s plenty of room, making it ideal for groups, and the excellent outdoor terrace means it’s a great space for alfresco drinks come the cooler months in Hong Kong.