Hong Kong’s LGBTI social scene is becoming increasingly diversified. There’s been a decided shift away from the strobe-lit throbbing superclubs that suddenly seem so 2000s and towards the smaller venues where the focus is on making real connections with real people – something that’s not always easy to do on a sweaty, cramped dancefloor.
It’s in this vein that new Causeway Bay spot Circo has opened. The high-rise spot is a chic, sexy-looking cocktail bar through and through, complete with polished dark brass finishes, touches of marble and low, comfortable banquette seating from which there’s a vista that should make you fall in love with Hong Kong all over again. Circo is the first LGBTI venue in town with a specific focus on cocktails. The shortlist of signatures reads well and, on paper at least, it looks like there’s enough variety to please most palates. We start with a Soi 2 Martini ($108), a mix of basil and lemongrass-infused Belvedere with chilli liqueur, tom yum, lime juice and makrut lime leaves. It’s described on the menu as an ‘intriguing mix of elegance with a touch of sleaze’. Alas, the tipple seems disproportionately weighted towards the latter as it’s all burn and no balance. We enjoy a bit of spice as much as the next punter but the execution here falls flat. The Honey Honey ($108) doesn’t help matters either. Bombay Sapphire, Drambuie, honey and lemon mixed together and topped with egg white foam may sound a winner but, again, there are problems with the production. It’s far too sweet with a slightly underworked egg white. The Monkey Business ($108), thankfully, is better. It’s a not inoffensive mix of Monkey 47 Sloe Gin, fresh berries and ginger, making for a refreshing, if one-dimensional, sip. The Red Carpet Moment ($148) is also passable, a twist on an old fashioned featuring Kavalan Sherry Oak, Antica Formula, fresh lemon juice, earl grey syrup and brandied cherries. It’s smooth and appropriately balanced but sadly lacks any kick.
We do love the fact there’s a place like Circo in Hong Kong. As the LGBTI community gains more visibility here, it’s a welcome change from the usual meat markets. The cocktails, though, need a huge amount of work so this place can become a success. However, for the mo, we’ll be back to enjoy that
view with a glass of wine.