Best bars in Lan Kwai Fong
Probably LKF’s worst kept secret, Brickhouse is a casual institution. Tucked away at the end of a narrow alleyway off of D’Aguilar Street, the hidden space is surprisingly cosy and inviting. The atmosphere is always lively and combines well with the decent South American grub and the impressive range of tequila and mezcal.
Despite being better known for its restaurant, the bar at Buenos Aires Polo Club deserves its share of the spotlight. A classy place to sip a well-made drink, there’s a particularly good range of fernet cocktails on offer as well some surprisingly good non-alcoholic ‘teetotallers’. Thursday night’s Buenos Aires Rock Club event is also not to be missed.
This late-night haunt is the brainchild of Gilbert Yeung, of Dragon-i and Tazmania Ballroom fame, and acts as those two venues’ more approachable cousin. Early on, the focus is on the food, which comes by way of London’s famous Barrafina. It’s later in the evening that the crowd arrives, eager for the drinks and decent club music.
Sitting pretty on the top two floors of LKF’s California Tower, Ce La Vi has one of the best rooftop bars in the city. Another venue, like Cassio, that tends to get going later in the evening, for those who enjoy an energetic ambience, this place is consistently buzzing.
If you think Lan Kwai Fong is merely a series of raucous, down and dirty bars, then think again. High above the throng on the 10th floor of the Cosmos Building sits this cosy bolthole. A relaxed, quiet spot, Club Qing is home to an impressive variety of more than 150 whiskies that’ll keep you coming back for more.
A convivial late-night joint, Employees Only is designed for punters looking for refined drinks in a more sophisticated Lan Kwai Fong setting. (The New York original has been a fixture on the World’s 50 Best Bars list since the awards started eight years ago.) Expect quality martinis and manhattans and excellent chit-chat from your bartender.
A spacious, chic locale in LKF Tower, Fang Fang serves equally good food and drinks – put that down to the prowess of chef Kent Lee Chin-heng and bar manager Gagan Gurung respectively. Try the Omikuji Girl, a mix of chilli tequila, barley sochu, yuzu, cardamom, shiso and five-spice powder that’s a fragrant and spicy lass.
Tucked away on the fourth floor of The Plaza, Havana is, like a number of venues on this list, yet another quality LKF establishment that’s hard to stumble upon. Order of the day here is any of the fine daiquiris. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Havana’s weekly promotions, like Monday’s two-for-one deal on beer, wine and mojitos. The terrace is a great spot to relax when it’s not too hot.
Seattleite John Nugent has put a new sheen on Lily & Bloom’s bar operations. His recently revamped drinks menu is full of winners like the Very Old Cow, a feisty mix of Montelobos mezcal, Aperol aperitivo, Punt e Mes, Luxardo Maraschino and Peychaud’s bitters. If you’re all about lip-smacking cocktails in plush surrounds, this is your best bet in the neighbourhood.
Although it occupies similar ground to Brickhouse – hidden entrance, tequila, mezcal, Mexican nibbles – Los Sotano is still a venue worth considering on its own merits. The basement venue is entirely air-conditioned – at Brickhouse you might unwillingly be stuck on the outside – and the beer and wine taps built-in to the tables make getting drinks dangerously easy.