There are so many outstanding Hong Kong bars that it’s hard to decide how and where to allocate your time, money and rapidly diminishing sobriety. Whether you want a fancy cocktail at a speakeasy, a bottle of biodynamic wine, a hazy IPA at a craft beer joint, or something else entirely, there’s something for you in our famously crowded and fast-paced city. We’ve put our livers on the line to deliver you a definitive list of the 50 best Hong Kong bars. Enjoy!
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The 50 best Hong Kong bars
Mezcal is certainly a big thing in Hong Kong these days, 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 Mexico’s native liquors.
Launched by a trio of Hong Kong’s finest local talent, The Old Man is the most talked about bar in the city. Still. In early 2019, it was crowned Asia's best bar at the Asia's 50 Best awards in Singapore, a title it certainly earned in its two-and-a-half-year existence. It’s cheek-by-jowl here these days, but don’t let that dissuade you: the drinks are always innovative – the distillation machine gets heavy use – but it’s the appreciably attentive service that keeps us all coming back.
The finest of Antonio Lai’s various excellent cocktail bars and ground zero of molecular mixology in Hong Kong, Quinary provides a multisensory experience for its customers unmatched anywhere in the city. Not just about excellent taste, but attention to detail in aesthetics, feel, smell – all the receptors are stimulated within stylish, usually buzzing surrounds.
It is with the promise of decadence from a bygone era that Wyndham Street haunt Stockton lures passersby. The bar-slash-restaurant is the brainchild of Maximal Concepts, the group behind Brickhouse and Fish and Meat. Difficult to find, it’s taken a cue from Brickhouse’s success by securing a ‘hidden’ (by way of dark alley, winding stairs and nondescript door) location for this new bar concept of 1900s London luxe – a particularly English moment in time when gentlemen were gentlemen and ladies were most definitely ladies. Stepping into Stockton is like stepping into a museum. Mounted animal heads and cabinets filled with oddities (think faux stuffed dodo birds) reveal themselves as our eyes adjust to the low lighting. Leather furniture abounds and the tables are small, making drinks comfortable but meals awkward. But that doesn’t matter so much – as we’re here to taste the tipples, just like most of the other patrons seem to be doing too. Stockton’s drinks menu is a delightful encyclopaedia of original cocktails, replete with fun facts, tasting notes and even etiquette guidelines (how couldn’t there be? This is England around the Victorian age, don’t forget…). We begin with a colonial throwback: the Bajan Housewife ($140). An exotic take on the mojito, the Housewife’s main building blocks (Mount Gay rum and Falernum syrup) both hail from Barbados, a former British colony. Served with crushed ice, the tall cocktail charms with warm n
This cosy, burgundy-and-gold-hued lounge was inspired by Alfonso X of Castile, a.k.a. the dude who ‘invented’ tapas. Ergo, expect tapas as well as Iberian-leaning drinks. Of these, the barrel-aged Manhattan made with Amontillado and PX sherries is a winner, but you can’t go wrong with any of the bold choices on the menu. This is the kind of place where you can settle in for a long night over good conversation and great drinks.
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 may be, the bar snacks, created by Richard Ekkebus, culinary director of Michelin-starred Amber, are also top drawer.
Tucked away at the back of Mexican restaurant 11 Westside – beyond the restaurant’s own bar and two large, frosted glass doors – The Wilshire is another of Hong Kong’s ‘hidden’ gems, with charming bar staff and a focused menu of classic cocktails given intriguing spins. Not sure what to order? Chat up the bar team. They’re always willing to whip something up according to your tastes. If you’re in Kennedy Town seeking a drink, this should be your first call. And then your last call, too, when you inevitably come back for a nightcap.
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.
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.
With its grunge aesthetic and free-wheeling ethos, The Pontiac is unique within Hong Kong’s upscale cocktail scene. But it’s not just the dive bar vibes and rock heavy playlist that make this spot on Old Bailey Street 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.
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.
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.
The Globe is a proper local, headed up by the good old-fashioned publican and beer-encyclopedia Toby Cooper. With a dizzying and ever-changing selection of brews from Hong Kong and abroad, this is the beer institution of our city.
Overlooking Victoria Harbour and the refurbished Avenue of Stars, the Rosewood Hong Kong occupies the prime space vacated by the New World Centre and adjoins the soon-to-open K11 Musea. The luxury property is a feather in the cap for Kowloon, and its flagship bar, DarkSide, pays tribute to this neighbourhood’s history — Kowloon is often (for better or worse) called ‘the dark side’ for simply not being Hong Kong Island. At first glance, the venue appears to have brought the best elements of both sides of the harbour together. The insulated atmosphere of Hong Kong speakeasies like 001 meets the space and comfort of bars like Aqua Spirit in the art deco-inspired form of low lights, plush chairs, velvet drapes, large windows and a stage with a live band playing easy listening music. If you’re looking for a view, however, you might be disappointed, as it is obscured by the hotel’s driveway. The food and drink menus are filled to the brim with options, including port or cognac from the barrel, a wide selection of premium spirits such as whisky, madeira and Armagnac, and classics with twists (Martini vs Vesper, $120). The venue even boasts its own Rosewood-branded pilsner and IPA, as well as decadent bar snacks, including an elevated version of the egg tart ($90) and the Bikini Sandwich ($160), which is comprised of Parisian ham, Emmental cheese and black truffle. We opt for one of the six signature cocktails, the No Rules ($125), and order the wagyu beef cheek tempura ($120) to
A bar that constantly lives up to 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.
Turning an old ping pong hall on the remote and unassuming streets of Sai Ying Pun into a stylish Spanish Gin bar is a stroke of genius. There is nothing more appealing to a crowd of hipsters, creatives and celebrities than a reprocessed space which still features touches of the original and adequately combines grit with taste. Ping Pong 129 Gintonería does this with flair, with the vast industrial interior featuring a long stairway, glorious high ceilings, retro-Hong Kong windows, and a red neon sign – all finished with Mediterranean-resembling tiling and works from local artists like photographer Paul Yeung and notorious graffitist Tsang Tsou Choi (aka King of Kowloon). On our visit the place is packed with hip young things sporting leather jackets, skinnies, funky dresses and pompadours, as well as celeb pastry chef Amanda S, who says it is a breath of fresh air. “I just love this space because it beats going to the crowded streets in Central.” That it does indeed. Everything about Ping Pong is cool and laid-back – not contrived or plastically manufactured, but thoughtfully curated. The atmosphere and roominess of the space is easily the main draw, with conversations able to take place even over the eclectically selected music. There is ample bar seating and tables to meet the demands of large groups. Thankfully, equal thought has gone into the drinks as the interior. As the bar’s name entails, the focus here is on gin. Spain has been upping their gin game of late with a
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, made from fresh produce that’s sliced and juiced on the spot, are exceptional.
Buried inside The Pottinger, Room 309 is an Aladdin’s cave of delights. With his first new concept in nearly three years, Antonio Lai showed that he still has his golden touch. Almost everything from the bar’s ‘invisible menu’ is worth ordering – and for the flavours too, not just the gimmick of their transparent appearance.
From Mizunara to Butler to Angel’s Share, cocktail and whisky bars are dime a dozen in Hong Kong. From the best to the worst, there’s often a set template: dark wood interiors, a jazz soundtrack (if any music is tolerated at all) and, in the worst instances, an excessive solemnity that’s meant to act as a substitute for genuine sophistication. It’s a relief that Whisky & Words dispenses with these clichés.Sitting opposite Coa on the steps of Shing Hing Street, the entrance – a simple wooden door – is understated and easy to miss. A narrow bar with a pleasantly high ceiling, the interior is decked out in muted greys and faux wood decals. Pleasant lo-fi hip-hop – the employee in charge of the playlist once worked at Drop – punctuates the atmosphere, engendering a laid-back vibe absent from many bars of this sort. Another striking feature is – gasp! – a decent happy hour. If there’s anywhere else in Hong Kong we can get an Ardbeg 10 year for $60, we haven’t found it yet.Another item on the happy hour list is the Coffee Old Fashioned ($150; $88 during happy hour), which is what we start with. The menu’s description makes no mention of how the coffee flavour enters into the cocktail – it merely mentions Mitchers’s Straight Rye, orange bitters, Angostura bitters, orange peel and cherries – and the bartender is no more forthcoming, but whatever the process, it works. Unlike many coffee cocktails in town, this one is expertly balanced, the main ingredients working perfectly in tandem
As we all know, Hong Kong is a renowned culinary city, with a good mixture of East meets West eateries alongside the local Cantonese ones. Relatively easy import and immigration laws mean chefs and restaurateurs can come from all over the world to try their luck in our dining scene. However, all this action does mean there’s something of an identity crisis when it comes to defining a homegrown Hong Kong flavour that’s encapsulated by at least one standout restaurant. Of course, there are certain products that scream Hong Kong, like Pat Chun vinegar and Tai Cheong Bakery’s egg tarts – but an eatery that fully represents our city’s cuisine like Noma does Copenhagen or Jiro does Tokyo is still lacking. Until now. We may have found a pretty good candidate that’s just burst on to the scene. VEA stands for Vicky Et Antonio – Vicky and Antonio in French. Vicky is Vicky Cheng, the visionary chef formerly of Liberty Private Works, and Antonio is Antonio Lai, the legendary bartender behind Origin, The Envoy and Quinary, the Central-based cocktail bar which has been named one of the world’s top 50 by Drinks International magazine. The new establishment takes up the top two floors of The Wellington, itself the newest food destination in between Central and Sheung Wan. VEA’s lounge is on the 29th floor, while the restaurant occupies the level above. The eatery’s space is comprised completely of counter seating, so you can watch the chefs preparing your meal right before your eyes. Bras
Maximal Concepts – the brains behind Brickhouse, Stockton and The Flying Elk, among others – opens its first Chinese concept since it unveiled its hugely successful and now-global Mott 32 back in 2014. Inspired by the trade routes that connected the east and the west during the Qing Dynasty, the restaurant serves Chinese dishes with innovative, international influences. Like many of Maximal’s other outfits, John Anthony operates on sustainable practices, and the bar is home to the city’s largest collection of gin, giving you yet more reasons to pay a visit.
From the team behind Mrs Pound and Foxglove comes Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour. Tucked away in the Landmark, this speakeasy houses over 250 showcasing premium gins from around the world and also shakes up an array of creative cocktails.
Contrasting details are a deliberate feature of Tai Kwun. It’s why the Victorian era Barrack Block sits a stone’s throw from the 21st-century JC Contemporary building and stark colour schemes are employed to help guests navigate the different sections of the site. It’s a theme that extends to the various bars and restaurants operating there, too. Nowhere is this more apparent than at The Dispensary. Not only is it resolutely traditional in comparison to Behind Bars and Dragonfly, but it sits in-between Aqua Group’s Sino-centric concept The Chinese Library and Statement, its western-focused restaurant.Thankfully, unlike Hugger Mugger, The Dispensary feels like its own space rather than a holding pen for either restaurant. The design is gorgeous. Occupying a spot that was formerly part of the police officers’ mess, the black and white flooring is similar to the mess’s original, and the rich blue colouring the walls is apparently inspired by old police uniforms. These are just some of the thoughtful touches that have gone into the design.Fittingly for a bar bridging an eastern and a western restaurant, the cocktail menu here is separated into a Chinese and a British collection. Flavours like mango and egg tart are present in the former while rhubarb and chestnuts feature in the latter. Starting close to home, we order a Dan Tat ($98), which takes pineapple rum and shakes it with the aforementioned egg tart, cream soda cordial and elements of lemon and nutmeg. Probably best serve
Gin seems to be the hottest thing in town right now. Mixologists are exploring it with more depth, it’s popping as a star player in cocktail menus and new brands are coming to play. So it was inevitable that a gin-focused bar would open up sooner or later, and it makes sense that Tastings Group would be the ones paving the way for this gin-volution. After all, Origin is the fourth venture in a series of drinks-themed watering holes from the Hong Kong beverage group. First came Tastings Wine Bar, then Angel’s Share, specialising in whisky, Quinary, serving mixology cocktails, and now, Origin. However, of all their projects, Origin is perhaps the most ambitious – partly because Hong Kong’s taste for gin is not as developed as it is for the other spirits. So as we step foot into this charming new watering hole, with retro, exposed brick walls and plush plaid seats, we have our expectations set. With a selection of seven classic and 11 signature cocktails, there’s a lot to be tried and tested for the evening. We start with the wonderfully named Aviation Extra ($130), a pale blue concoction with a smooth, full and round flavour and a dash of refreshing texture. Its blue colour is actually thanks to crème de violette which, alongside sour notes from lemon juice and bitters, comes full circle on the palate with maraschino liqueur and gin. This bittersweet melody remains fresh while sumptuous, and brings added delight with a criminally delectable maraschino cherry hidden at the bot
A diamond among the tourist tat of Upper Lascar Row, Blue Supreme is Hong Kong’s classiest craft beer bar. The space is decorated with dark teal walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and wooden furniture offset by green plants. When it comes to beer, the focus is on the wide range of funky, wild and live brews born out of Belgian traditions: farmhouse ales, saisons, spontaneously fermented lambics, sour brown ales and more. Owner Ted Lai really knows his stuff. Talk to him a bit, and he can help ease you into a style that suits your palate. Be sure to order something to eat, too – Blue Supreme pays equal care and attention to its food menu.
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, this is the palce to go to indulge your taste for the Japanese drink or to start learning about it. The accompanying ‘otsumami’ small bites are divine, too.
This buzzing, two-floor bar and Japanese restaurant has outposts in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US, 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.
As one of the oldest streets in Hong Kong, Pottinger Street has seen its fair share of foot traffic. Its Cantonese name translates as ‘stone slab street’ and the uphill cobblestone path serves much of the same function today as it always has: guiding pedestrians through Central’s various establishments and (still, occasionally) transporting yoke-bearing civilians selling their wares. It used to be the first port of call for sailors – the original harbour sat right on the stretch of land where Queen’s Road Central now runs. With this history in mind we step into The Envoy, a newly opened watering hole attached to the appropriately named, and also new, The Pottinger hotel. The feel of the place seems to be spot on – turn of the century European design influences mark the walls and furniture, juxtaposed with earthier, rustic motifs. If we were a 19th century merchant seafarer (the fancy kind, swinging a pocket watch) on a port layover in Hong Kong, we’d definitely dive into this joint for a pint or two. It’s not a pint we’re offered, however, but a bible of cocktails. Contrary to the archaic aesthetic of The Pottinger and The Envoy, the drinks are decidedly futuristic-retro, offering avant-garde millilitres of meticulously measured, shaken and stirred concoctions designed by award-winning bartender Antonio Lai. Interestingly, the little musings inscribed on the menu tie in (mostly literary) references from the city’s bygone era of British colonisation – Joseph Conrad, Charle
There’s been a veritable whirlwind of hype in recent months surrounding the new brainchild of accolade-heavy bar team Sandeep Hathiramani and Gagan Gurung. After a litany of unfortunate setbacks delayed the bar’s opening, the swell of anticipant whispers from thirsty patrons has now given way to bums on seats, as Tell Camellia finally opened within Central’s stylish H Code complex in late July. The mission of the bar is to fuse tea and cocktail culture in a way that challenges all who drink here to abandon preconceived cocktail notions, and to steep themselves in the unknown. Of course, challenging staid notions with something seldom seen (or indeed drank) before is never going to be an easy task, especially considering the perennial popularity in Hong Kong of more traditional cocktail styles. However, true to form, the duo seems to be succeeding in their quest here, purveying a delicious selection of cocktails (or Teatails, if you will) that pair well with the bar’s inviting ambience and very personable customer service. Let’s start with the menu which, much like the bar’s interior, is outwardly simple yet impressively attentive to detail. The lineup is split between signature Teatails, all of which are infused with exotic teas and local spices from particular world regions, and house gins that have been lovingly redistilled with different flavoured, you guessed it, tea. The entire experience here has been designed to be gratifyingly thematic, so expect some extra touches
Ever since opening Little Bao to much applause in 2013, chef May Chow has been a busy lady. Her name has been linked with many new concepts, partnerships, pop-ups and even cooking competitions. This summer, as well as opening Little Bao’s first outpost in Bangkok, she’s joined forces with the guys from TAP: The Ale Project to create a new gastropub, the aptly named Second Draft, located in the newly minted Little Tai Hang. In the centre of the space, there’s a circular wood-panelled bar which, in combination with the bricked exterior, creates a real local pub vibe. Apart from serving some cracking locally brewed beers on tap, the gastropub is also heavily influenced by local flavours when it comes to the grub with dishes like cashews with spicy ma la seasoning and dried oyster croquettes on the menu. A pub is where people go to seek out the familiar, grab some comfort food and have a good night out with their mates. Thanks to the local ales and dishes, we instantly feel this establishment is for us Hongkongers. And since marrying pan-Asian flavours with European and American culinary techniques is what chef Chow is famous for, we’re looking forward to what this venue is offering. First up, we tuck into a cold beef tripe ($48), not an easy ingredient to prepare. Depending on how thick your cut is, it takes experience to make the call on how long to leave it on the stove so it comes out perfectly tender. Sadly, our serving here is overdone. Marinated with turmeric powder, th
Sake Samurai Elliot Faber (Ronin, Sake Central, Yardbird) leads the team behind this intimate sake sanctuary in Central. You might get drawn in by the striking interiors – stone pebbles on the walls evoke the grains of rice used to brew sake – but most likely you will be going here to sample some of the dozens of bottles of sake imported from 10 different Japanese producers. Throw in tremendous service from the affable and supremely knowledgeable staff, and you have a winner with this bar.
Sporting a 1960s-inspired aesthetic and a bold new menu to match, Lee Lo Mei emanates 'real' Hong Kong better than anywhere else in the city. Featuring an array of innovative Cantonese dishes combined with nostalgic flavours, we particularly like the whiskey-infused take on Hong Kong-style milk tea.
From the team who bought us the cooler-than-thou Mrs Pound comes Foxglove, a 1950s-style watering hole serving up classic cocktails on Duddell Street. If you know the story behind Mrs Pound, you’ll soon notice there’s a pattern emerging in the quirky little yarns spun to accompany the team’s themed establishments. Here, the bar is supposedly ‘inspired by the globe-trotting adventures of an English gentleman’ (the enigmatic Frank). Upon entering, we’re transported back to the fabulous 50s with an interior reminiscent of the luxurious first class aeroplane cabins of that era. We almost expect there to be curls of cigarette smoke in the air and Don Draper-esque executives flirting with flight attendants. Though none of these things are actually happening, thanks to the interior details, we quickly conclude Foxglove successfully nails the theme as well as the atmosphere. Cocktails are split into three sections and we decide to begin with the ‘Homage to Prohibition’ section and go for the Bitter Truth ($130). The Angostura bitters marry perfectly with the Kraken black spiced rum and the spices are mellowed by the astringency of the orange and lime. A wonderful cocktail, it conjures memories of Christmas, as does the Guatemala Fashioned ($150). This twist on an old fashioned is a warming tipple, owing to the Zacapa rum, and reminiscent of a toddy. In stark contrast, the Rhubarb ($130) is a saccharine slap in the face. Though smooth, the agave nectar drowns the Belvedere vodka for
Named after Jean Cocteau’s novel Les Enfants Terribles, Terrible Baby shakes up a selection of sustainable cocktails and offers an impressive collection of rosés and gins – plus it opens at 11am, so you can sneak in an afternoon drink that’s a hell of a lot tastier than anything else you can get during the day in Kowloon (try the Tepaching, a sweet, funky blend of mezcal, fresh lime and tepache). The bar is also linked to an outdoor terrace and music room, where you can even record or mix your own tracks. The concept is cool, the décor is cool, the aesthetic is cool. You get the picture.
Ashley Sutton has been a busy man. Dear Lilly marks the Australian designer’s fifth Hong Kong project – following the similarly fantastical J Boroski, Iron Fairies, Ophelia and Yojimbo – in less than two years. With a swooning, floral theme, this new venture promises modern western fare and carefully crafted cocktails – all served with an amazing view of Victoria Harbour from the IFC.Centred around a clear theme – romance – Sutton has effectively brought to life his adoration for the enchanting aspects of love. The result is a charmingly bonkers medley of bouquets, trinkets, perfume bottles, love letters and carved wood that deserves to be seen as it’s quite beautiful.We kick off with Dear Lilly’s take on the old fashioned, its Orient Express ($120) – single malt whisky, mandarin bitters, Aperol and Dubonnet. It’s a triumph, the later ingredient mellowing out the more acerbic elements, elevating this classic rather than miring it in citrus hell.Although very much as a cocktail bar, a large onus is put on the food at Dear Lilly – no pork scratching here (sadly). Instead, the menu is a tidy jaunt through contemporary western eats with special focus given to the Mediterranean. We opt for a short rib burger ($188) with cheddar cheese, spicy mayo and fries. The patty is cooked to perfection – succulent and tender, one of the best burgers we’ve had for a while.We round things off with an appropriately dessert-savvy drink by way of the Brothers Lumière ($120), which builds on a foun
Wan Chai has its fair share of watering holes but the selection isn’t exactly varied. There are the dive bars and sports pubs on Lockhart and Jaffe, and then you have the few classier hotel spots. It’s not easy to find much outside of these two categories. Tai Lung Fung seems determined to be an exception though, opening with a fun concept that pays tribute to Hong Kong’s cultural heritage. Originally the name of a renowned Cantonese opera troupe from the 1960s, the term ‘tai lung fung’ has since been adopted into modern-day local slang to refer to the showy and ostentatious. It’s fitting then that the entrance signage is the bar’s name in bold Chinese characters lit up in pink neon lights. Inside, the décor is a playful throwback to Hong Kong culture circa The World of Suzie Wong. Plastic light fixtures from Hong Kong’s iconic ‘Red A’ brand dangle from the ceiling while old movie posters, antique clocks and yellowed newspaper clippings decorate the deliberately worn walls. But it’s the tranquil location that’s the most charming aspect of the venue. Housed on a much quieter stretch of Wan Chai past the wet market and historical Blue House on Stone Nullah Lane, Tai Lung Fung is one of the few proper bars in its immediate area. Old heritage buildings and temples are just a stone’s throw away from the bar’s front steps. By the entrance, two high tables and a scattering of stools look into an old mom-and-pop stationary shop across the street. The whole set-up starts to feel lik
Cocktails on tap can be dangerous, especially when they are this good, and the venue is this fun. The second outpost of Antonio Lai’s draft-cocktail speciality bar makes for excellent people-watching along Wyndham Street, and the quick-pour drinks are nothing to be sniffed at, either. Like all good bartenders pulling pints, the staff offer tasters of any of the 20 drinks on tap, so you can make a decision based on flavour rather than a feeling you get when you read a menu.
If you can’t get a seat at Sushi Zo – or if you want to memorable nightcap after your omakase feast – head to Gishiki Lounge. The bar features no shortage of Japanese touches, from flavoured ice blocks shaped like Hannya masks and small-batch sakes to geisha-influenced performances and cocktails named after characters from traditional Noh theatre.
Tucked away inside the Prince’s Building, Kakure lives up to its name: in Japanese, ‘kakure’ means present in form but absent from sight. That should give you an inclination about the kind of discreet service and high quality you can expect at this hideaway. The menu is filled out with Edomae-style sushi and sashimi, as well as teppanyaki dishes and other Japanese treats. The seafood is flown in fresh from Japan each day while Hida wagyu figures prominently in the action at the teppanyaki grill. At the bar, you’ve got 120 rare and vintage whiskies to explore on top of some signature cocktails.
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.
It’s where everybody knows your name. Well, it isn’t exactly Cheers, but this quaint, cosy and completely unpretentious venue comes close. Its egalitarian vibe attracts a veritable motley crew of customers, all popping in for the killer beer list, much of which has been provided by local craft brewery Young Master. There’s always a great selection of bottles and cans from top-flight craft breweries around the world, too.
One of the most lowkey of Hong Kong’s hidden cocktail bars, 001 is easy to miss unless you know it’s there. A recessed black door set behind the market stalls on Graham Street, a dim spotlight and doorbell are the only signs that you’re at the right place. Fortunately, 001 doesn’t rely on its gimmick as a hidden bar to pull in punters. The cocktails here are excellent and there’s a strong selection of spirits too. At times you can even find the elusive Pappy van Winkle bourbon in stock, provided you’re willing to pay the high price, of course.
The Diplomat is the brainchild of award-winning mixologist John Nugent (formerly of Lily & Bloom) who is known for his innovative twists on old classics. True to the nature of a diplomat, you’ll see Nugent being friendly to his customers, helping them decide on orders, and chatting with them at every opportunity. At first glance, the exterior of the bar looks stiff and corporate with a suited bouncer greeting customers at the door. This all changes as you enter the premises and become immersed in the bar’s light and welcoming atmosphere. The interior is replete with leather seats and brass finishings, and while taking these in, it’s easy to miss the intricately detailed ceiling tiles that bear the bar’s logo. Should your inner diplomat have important business to attend to, a lavish hallway with shades of pink and copper will lead you to the washroom. The bar’s menu is easy to navigate and reasonably priced compared to neighbouring bars. We started with the signature Diplo Daiquiri; house rum blend, pineapple, anise, and salt ($95) followed by Pearl, made with vodka, Campari, French herbs, Mr. Black Coffee Amaro, pineapple, and almonds ($95). The two drinks are okay to whet your appetite, made for easy drinking, but aren’t standouts. To gain a better appreciation of the signature menu, ask the staff about the famous diplomats who inspired the drinks. What seem to be the real crowd pleasers are the reimagined classics. "Oh, I should have gotten the same drink as yours!" "
There’s a time and place for everything. Sometimes it simply calls to have a decadently fancy night out on the town and Caprice Bar offers a place to do it. Award-winning fine French dining kingpin Caprice, housed in the suave Four Seasons hotel, has transformed the small private waiting area, adjacent to the dining room, into Caprice Bar – a tasteful, intimate and comforting fine wine and cheese room, with Persian and European flair, designed by Spin Design Studio and the Alan Chan Design Company. Deep earthy and purple tones, and bold prints and textiles frame a mesmerising lounge-like atmosphere, perfect for winding down in after a busy day at the office. The bar doesn’t take any bookings but do drop by and be dressed-to-impress as the establishment has a firm dress code. You’re going to want to make the effort anyway, as you’ll most likely be sitting snugly away on the same lush and expansive sofas as Hong Kong’s elite, who are sure to stop in and lounge around for some demure pre-dinner sips or a sophisticated nightcap. The menu includes an extension of Caprice’s far-ranging wine list, spotlighting an array of unique wines and champagnes – by the glass – that change routinely, including the Saint Joseph Dom B Gripa 2007 ($150) Syrah, which we try on our weeknight visit. We suggest those who want the ultimate Caprice Bar experience to order the wine and cheese pairings the bar offers. Order the A Bit Of Everything sample cheese platter ($280) and those in the mood fo
This free-spirited bar aims to shake things up on Peel Street. Two happy hours (including a very welcome 11pm-1am late-night deal), killer cocktails, crushable beers at affordable prices and a range of wines from across the world – including biodynamic and natural wines – give Shady Acres an edge over some of the other players on the scene. It doesn't hurt that Hong Kong nightlife veterans Ryan Nightingale (Back Bar, Aberdeen Street Social) and Mike Watt (208 Duecento Otto) are involed in the project.
The night-time iteration of sandwich shop Bread & Beast, Kong is a restaurant and bar that offers playful takes on the flavours of this city. Local ingredients abound in the sharing plates, such as huadiao chicken liver paté, lotus root chips and seared cheung fun with slow-cooked brisket.
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.
Head through the grand double doors, up the elevators and down a dim corridor somewhere within the walls of the newly-opened Rosewood hotel, and you will find an inconspicuous knob. Flip the panel up, enter the password, and with a resounding whoosh, the wall will open inwards, leading you into Hong Kong’s first ladies-only speakeasy – XX. Named after the chromosomal combination only females possess, the sultry cocktail bar is a haven for girls. Sorry, gents, it’s no man’s land from here! Much like the hotel, XX is furnished luxuriously without an ounce of pretentiousness or contrivance. With the birds-and-bees patterned wallpaper, plush, emerald green couches, and sensual lighting from ornate chandeliers, the hidden bar is an ethereal oasis specifically tailored to ladies’ likings. Among their signature cocktails, we were feeling Sexy. A champagne-based cocktail, the Sexy ($160) is an intoxicating concoction of jasmine, bergamot orange, fizz and London No. 3 Gin. Citrusy and sweet and velvety smooth when it hits the tongue, the fruity bergamot proves a perfect foil for the sharpness of the gin and the effervescence of the champagne. Topped off with a dainty jasmine flower in its tall, slender glass, Sexy is the quintessence of femininity. The BFF ($130), in contrast, is a refreshing, light, easy-on-the-throat highball that pairs Fair vodka with cucumber juice, pine needles, and yuzu vinegar. Combined with a decorative, rolled-up slice of cucumber containing pine needles an
Opening its doors in autumn 2019 in LL Tower just off Hollywood Road, Think Wine is the labour of love of renowned French sommeliers Romain Loriot and Jean-Beniot ‘JB’ Issele. The two are no strangers to Hong Kong’s food and beverage scene, previously holding head sommelier positions at Le Comptoir (the group behind popular restaurants Ecriture and Bibo) and Michelin-starred Belon, respectively. This new venture sees these two forces of the wine world come together in an intensely personal venture that reflects the pair’s extensive knowledge, impressive attention to detail, and passion for vino. The bar boasts almost 600 wines from across the globe, with particular emphasis – at least 250 varieties – from the Burgundy and Languedoc-Roussilon regions of France. All well and good for the amateur oenologists amongst us, however such a varied menu is potentially grape-ly bewildering for the average customer. To ease the picking process there are friendly and knowledgeable staff on hand to educate in an un-patronising way about the tipples, and guide the appropriate drink to the lips of even the most winey of philistines. In terms of volume, wines are offered here by the bottle and by glass, with prices ranging from as low as $60 per glass to as high as $15,000 per bottle. A good place to begin is at the cheap end of the spectrum, but for those looking to really explore Romain and JB’s collection, a cool glass of the Italian Maso Cantanghel ($120) proves a nice white to start on, w
Named after owner Joseph Boroski, this Central bar is, well, not really a bar. It technically is, of course – inasmuch as drinks are ordered and consumed on-site – but this ‘creative cocktail space’ goes above and beyond what a bar, however superlative, offers. For starters, this invitation-only space has no listed address and also no menu. It’s a formula that’s already seen success at J.Boroski Bangkok, which, upon opening in 2014, quickly became one of the most sought-after seats in town. As with the Thonglor original, the local incarnation has been designed by Boroski’s long-time collaborator Ashley Sutton, of Ophelia fame. Dark, dramatic and spacious, the room’s focal point is the curved ceiling, half of which is tastefully adorned with large rhinoceros beetles forming a mesmerising display over the spotlit bar. Providing a ‘concierge service’ to guests means that drinks are tailored to your tastebuds – to order is to answer a series of questions about your unique preferences. Strong or mild? Sweet or sour? Floral? Herbal? Spicy? Plus, you pay for the liquor and the rest is added for free. A tequila-based tipple ($150) uses clove and leather-imbued Excellia Blanco – we order ours floral and spicy, and get the perfect balance. We then request a herbal, smoky, whisky-based number and find that t