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17 Best speakeasy-style and hidden bars in Hong Kong

Where to nurse a drink in 852's 'not-so-secret' secrets

Tatum Ancheta
Edited by
Tatum Ancheta
Written by
Time Out editors
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No one has actually been to a speakeasy, well, unless you're 100 years old and have lived through Prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s, that is. What we call 'speakeasies' in Hong Kong are themed bars inspired by the vestiges of the Prohibition era, bars that are intentionally hidden from plain sight, lacks signage, discreetly located in obscured entrances, and showcasing cocktails and experiences designed to look like you're going back in time. 

Discovering these bars are already part of the drinking experience, and with most of us confined in the city, drinking at these 'hidden' gems can be a magical encounter. And while locating these 'secret' bars is not a daunting task, finding the very best is entirely a different matter. Read on to discover Hong Kong's best-disguised drinking holes and bars-within-bars that serve quality drinks that will keep you coming back for seconds. 

RECOMMENDED: Looking for new bars? Here's a list of all the hottest openings in the city

Best speakeasy-style and hidden bars in Hong Kong

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Wan Chai

Tucked away inside a nondescript commercial building in Wan Chai, Mizunara is not the easiest bar to spot. But if you do, you'll find over 800 bottles of whiskies from Japanese, Scottish, American, and Irish distilleries, and you can enjoy various whisky cocktails on the menu too. Headed by award-winning Masahiko Endo, the bar can create a custom cocktail for you with your preferred whisky. The drinks here aren't exactly on the wallet-friendly end of the scale, but they are crafted with care, and you're unlikely to find similar drinks elsewhere in town.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho

Flick the silver switch next to the golden door on Staunton Street, and you'll gain entry into The Poet – a hidden cocktail haven that is serious about its tipples. Inside, the interior has the look and feel of a classic cocktail bar with backlit mirrors on cerulean walls, marble tables, gold finishes and cosy corners. The drink menu is extensive, with selections of whiskies, gins, wines by the bottle, and signature cocktails crafted by a lean bar team headed by new bar manager Edward Chung. This season, check out the first chapter of their newly launched thematic cocktail menu called 'Sunshine after the rain'. Drop by for their Chillax Hour every Tuesday and Saturday from 5pm to 8pm, and all day on Sunday to get value for money cocktails, sparkling wines and beers (price starts at $60 - $90).  

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

The place is located on the second floor of the Welley Building, and if you are not 'in the know', it's likely that you will not have even seen the place on your usual bar crawl. Created by three whisky lovers, Vincent Leung, Eric Ho, and Jason Ngai, the trio aims to give whisky the attention it deserves. House Welley has an excellent collection of whiskies from Japan, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and other world whiskies. Veering away from the usual gentleman's club style, this bar exudes a more modern vibe that appeals to both whisky noobs and enthusiasts. Expect to find single cask, limited edition, hard to find independent bottlings (I.B.), and distillery exclusive original bottlings (O.B.) from the likes of Yamazaki, Macallan, and vintage expressions from Bunnahabhain, Clynelish, Bowmore, and more.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

Barcode (short for bar, coffee, and dessert) serves up cafe bites and hand drip coffee in the morning, but once the clock strikes six, a hidden room welcomes imbibers for after-work drinks. The brains behind the bar is tea-cocktail connoisseur and Tell Camellia's co-founder Gagan Gurung. You can choose any of the classic cocktail offerings on the menu or order any of the new coffee-based cocktails, which include the yuzu flavoured coffee cocktail Coffee and Yu made with Perfume Trees Pale Ink sugar-free coffee liqueur ($130), fresh yuzu juice, espresso, and tonic water.  

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

Located on the second floor of Amber Lodge on Hollywood Road is a hidden oasis called Zzura. Inspired by the Sahara desert, the bar's design features clean, minimal, and polished earthy hues with contrasting pops of green and orange on the furnishings – a far cry from the intimate and dimly lit speakeasy-style bars in the city. The bar serves signature cocktails with Middle-Eastern flavours crafted by Tell Camellia's Gagan Gurung. Drop by this month to check the new seasonal cocktail menu that highlights Mediterranean fruit flavours, which includes the refreshing gimlet called Oly Moly and a boulevardier twist called Musk Wheel with muskmelon flavours. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Causeway Bay

A.P.E. (A Perfect Escape) is an intimate whisky bar hidden inside Esc coffeeshop in Tin Hau. The venue is brought to you by the same people behind InterContinental Grand Stanford's 1920s-style Tiffany's New York Bar, so you can expect the same quality curation of whiskies with a focus on Scotch from independent whisky bottlers. But compared to its older sibling, A.P.E.'s atmosphere is more relaxed, plus the price point is on the affordable side. Discover over 30 bottles of Scotch from Speyside, Highland, Islay, and Lowland regions from independent bottlers Douglas Laing, Thompson Bros, Elixir Distillers, and Asta Morris, among others, as well as original bottling from Ardbeg, Clynelish, Lagavulin, and Bruichladdich distilleries. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Wan Chai

For a no-fuss sake drinking experience, make your way to Wan Chai and knock on the hidden bar Heya. Heya, which means room in Japanese, is a cosy little nook tucked on the fourth floor of Winner Commercial Building on Lockhart Road. This 18-seater sake bar serves over 30 labels of sake – which you can order per glass ($50 to $100 per glass) or bottle for dine-in or takeaway. Light bites are available on the menu, but you can also bring your own food at no extra fee. Co-owner Sean Li will even help you pair your food with the right bottle of sake.  

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

Presented as an imaginary space within The Pottinger – every floor in the hotel has a maximum of six rooms, so 309 shouldn't exist – Room 309 sits next to another of Lai's establishments, The Envoy. Expect a menu of classic cocktails with new spins – quite literally, in a centrifuge – to produce a range of transparent cocktails. Try their Deep Sea Martini, a savoury treat made with re-distilled Oolong tea blended Scotch whisky, Cinzano Bianco, and homemade kombu tincture, served with Japanese soy sauce rice crackers and seaweed. They occasionally hold mixology pop-ups in collaboration with various spirit brands, so make sure to ask about these seasonal menus when you drop by.  

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

Frank's Library is a bar hidden within 1950s-style bar Foxglove, disguised as an umbrella shop on Duddell Street. The bar's concept is based on the travels of fictional Englishman Frank Minza, serving a cocktail menu inspired by his globe-trotting adventures. Enjoy potent barrel-aged tipples and premium cocktails which are a cut above Foxglove's usual offerings. Follow Frank's Library on Instagram and stay updated on their occasional themed drinking experiences and pop-ups.  

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

If you're new to the city and have not been to Dr Fern's, you'll easily miss the bar hiding behind a door dressed as a doctor's clinic. But an appointment with the doctor is not required; just open the door and walk in. Dr Fern's Gin Parlour came from the same team behind Foxglove. The bar houses over 250 gins showcasing premium bottles from all around the world which you can enjoy neat or as a G&T. They also shake up an array of creative cocktails depending on the season, so be sure to ask the bartender what's on the chalkboard. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho

Tucked away in an alleyway off Staunton Street, behind a discreet door, is the renowned bar, The Wise King. Named after Alfonso X, the 13th-century king of Castile, who decreed that alcohol should not be served without food. Hence why, as well as inventive cocktails, the venue serves small bites. The Wise King's co-founder Sandeep Kumar has revamped the bar's menu with some new tipples. Whether you like something refreshing or spirit-forward with a twist, they have something for you on the menu.  

  • Bars and pubs
  • Sai Ying Pun

Turning an old ping pong hall on the unassuming streets of Sai Ying Pun into a stylish Spanish gin bar has proven to be a stroke of genius. There's nothing more appealing to a crowd of hipsters and creatives than a reprocessed space that still features touches of the original and adequately combines grit with taste. The bar does a decent job of giving a stage to Spain's excellent gin scene by featuring some of the country's best variations of the spirit and cocktails that appropriately complement the unique characteristics of each gin.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

Situated in the bustling H Code, The Diplomat is the perfect watering hole for people hankering for after-work drinks. Though its location is not so hidden, the bar does have a secret pink V.I.P. room that you can only enter through a referral from regular patrons. Inside you can order the same cocktail menu from the main bar, but press a special button on the table, and servers will instantly serve you a glass of Champagne. If you're able to get into the back room, make sure to stay until midnight to catch the complimentary cookies served hot from the oven.  

  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

The name stems from Scottish engineers William Kyle and John Bain, who set up the city's first ice plant in the 1870s at the exact location where the bar is now located. Kyle & Bain is a martini-centric bar located on the mezzanine floor of European brasserie Margo. Those with a penchant for boozy gin drinks will love this intimate bar as all cocktails here are prepared, stirred, and not shaken. Expect a rotating list of creative martinis and renditions of classic gin cocktails, including Negronis and gimlets. Along with gin offerings, the bar also serves a list of spirits, including vodka, agave, whisky, and brandy.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Central

Hidden at the back of MO Bar in the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, accessed through a mock phone booth, PDT has established itself as one of the best bars in the city – let alone one of the best' hidden' bars. The cocktail menu is well-thought-out and serves a wonderful marriage of classics from PDT's original home in New York and new creations that are sensitive to local tastes and ingredients here in Asia.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

With Stockton having been around for a while now, it may seem a little redundant to claim that the bar is 'hidden', but for some, it's still easy to miss. Found at the top of a dark passage near the end of Wyndham Street, Stockton is decorated like an Edwardian gentlemen's club furnished with leather sofas. One of the bar's best attributes is its experimental streak, as demonstrated in the introduction of various new cocktail menus since opening back in 2014. Sip on drams of whisky from their extensive collection and pair them with Stockton's selection of Cuban cigars, or order cocktails from their Creativity of Sins, which pays homage to the legendary father of Gonzo Journalism, Hunter S. Thompson.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Kennedy Town

Located at the back of Mexican restaurant 11 Westside, The Wilshire is a rare example of an American bar done right in this part of town. The surroundings are plush and comfortable, with a pool table slap in the middle of the action, and the menu is mercifully compact and straightforward. What you get is a handful of offerings featuring classic flavours coupled with modest but refreshing twists that change every couple of months. The bartenders can also whip up any classic cocktail, so guests can request based on their drink preference. 

How about some drinks with a view?

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