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Chinese New Year cocktails – sip or skip?

We paid a visit to some of Central's best bars to determine whether their CNY cocktail offerings were good, bad, or just plain ugly

honi honi cny drink TA 19012020 IMG_3037
Honi CNY cocktail | TA
By Time Out Hong Kong |
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It's Chinese New Year and while for many of us, this means food-a-plenty, this special time of year also brings exciting and innovative boozy treats. We're talking about the array of Chinese New Year-themed cocktails from some of our city's premier bars. To celebrate, we thought we'd pay a visit to a few of our very favourite bars to taste their CNY cocktail offerings. 

Watch the video with Time Out's editor-in-chief Tatum Ancheta and English editor Sam Evans, as they sip their way through Chinese New Year libations to help you decide on which were worth a sip and which we'd rather skip. 

RECOMMENDED: Feeling thirsty? Why not check out our list of the best bars in Hong Kong?

Our first stop was at Coa; the Sheung Wan mezcal mecca recently crowned Hong Kong's best bar in the Time Out Bar Awards 2019. Jay Khan is the man behind this popular haunt, and he fixed us up a La Chinesca – made in dedication to an area of Mexico historically populated with the largest Chinese community. The drink contains jalapeño-infused Don Fulano Blanco tequila, Los Javis Espadin mezcal, ginger honey, tomato and capsicum water, cilantro, lime, and sesame oil. 

La Chinesca

We've also tried new offerings on their menu, which were refreshing options after munching on a lot of hearty-savoury CNY feast. The thirst-quenching Ancho Highball contains salted plum, Curado Espadin-infused tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde Chile liqueur, clarified guava soda, garnished with nasturtium. The invigorating Pepper Smash has yellow bell pepper, jalapeño rapid infused Arquitecto blanco tequila, perilla liqueur, Cointreau, pineapple juice, sweet basil, and agave syrup.

Next up was at Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge, which stands as Hong Kong's first tiki cocktail bar, and affords all those who drink here an exotic and tropical escape from the concrete jungle outside. Their Chinese New Year cocktail is Honi Honi CNY, crafted from New Grove-Honi Honi personal cask rum, forest berry mix, homemade Sichuan pepper syrup, cloudy apple juice, lemon juice, garnished with Sichuan peppers. 

Honi CNY

Our third and final stop of the evening was Tell Camellia, a new-for-2019 bar helmed by award-winning duo Sandeep Hathiramani and Gagan Gurung that focuses on tea-infused cocktails, or teatails. We sipped on their exclusive CNY cocktail, the Roasted Teaball, made with bourbon, hōjicha (a Japanese green tea that goes through roasting after the leaves are steamed), green tea, honey, and sparkling sake. 

Roasted Teaball

We also got our pick on some of their popular cocktails on the menu to check what people can enjoy for CNY. For good fortune, we ordered red-tinted cocktails on the menu – Darjeeling Negroni, made with Darjeeling Tea re-distilled Gin, bitters, and Rosso vermouth; and the auspicious red Turkey, a fizzy blend of Rize tea (a black tea used for traditional Turkish tea), gin, raki, apricot, sumac (a dark red spice with a tangy lemon flavour), carbonated grapefruit, garnished with kimyon leaf (cumin leaf).   

Tell Camellia cocktails: Roasted Teaball, Turkey, and Darjeeling Negroni | photo by Ashlyn Chak

Don't forget to check our video to find out which of the night's cocktails we thought were a sip or skip!

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