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Kyle & Bain
Photograph: Courtesy Kyle & Bain

Best speakeasy-style and hidden bars in Hong Kong

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

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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: Are you a fan of unusual drinking and dining concepts? Check out our list of Hong Kong's best quirky restaurants and cafes



Best speakeasy-style and hidden bars in Hong Kong

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho

The opening of this place, in the early part of 2020, was almost as mysterious as the venue itself with news of it only spreading predominantly via word of mouth, and making an appointment by phone or the bar's Facebook page was the only way to enjoy the experience. Now, accepting walk-ins, patrons can freely enter the curious-looking door on Staunton Street with a small window that shows only darkness behind it. Expect quality classic cocktails and interesting house twists crafted by beverage director Tony Hsu together with The Poet's talented bartenders Chiho Cheung and Henry Ho. If you're feeling experimental, ask the bartenders to make you an off-menu gin-based Chinese Ginger Fizz ($148) made with pickled ginger and spicy, savoury ingredients garnished with a century egg.

  • 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. House Welley Bar exudes a modern vibe that will appeal to both whisky noobs and enthusiasts. Created by three whisky lovers Vincent Leung, Eric Ho, Jason Ngai, the trio aims to give whisky the attention it deserves. There are no bartenders in sight stirring up an Old Fashioned or highballs, only three convivial whisky enthusiasts and a few servers going to and from the shelves serving up drams upon drams of liquid gold. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

Located on the dark 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 desert 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. Familiar faces behind the bar include Tell Camellia co-owner Gagan Gurung and Princebir Singh, former head bartender of Zuma. The bar serves spice-infused cocktails highlighting Middle-Eastern flavours that include an easy-to-drink cocktail called Kafyar ($120) and cumin-infused Around The Globe ($120). 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

Situated on the mezzanine floor of European brasserie Margo, Kyle and Bain is a martini-focused bar named after Scottish engineers William Kyle and John Bain, who set up the city’s first ice plant in the 1870s on the exact address where the bar is now located. Led by The Diplomat’s co-founder John Nugent, Kyle & Bain only serve their martini stirred, not shaken, and the same goes for other drinks, so expect it to be on the boozy side. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

Helmed by tea-cocktail connoisseur and Tell Camellia's co-founder Gagan Gurung, Barcode – bar, coffee, dessert – is a new hip coffee shop on Glenealy, Central. The shop serves snacks, desserts, and hand drip coffee in the morning, but once the clock strikes six, a hidden room will welcome you for some after-work drinks. You can choose any of the classic cocktail offerings on the menu, and those with a sweet tooth can enjoy signature mixes crafted to pair with desserts. 

  • 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, 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; $250/flight of three) 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

001 hides inside a recessed black door behind the market stalls on Graham Street, where a dim spotlight and doorbell are the only signs that show you're in the right place. The bar doesn't rely on its gimmick as a hidden bar to pull in punters. The cocktails here are excellent, and there's a good selection of spirits too. You can even find the elusive Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in stock, provided you're willing to pay the high price, of course.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

With Stockton having been around for a while now, it seems a little redundant to claim it's 'hidden' anymore, but for the uninitiated, 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, with all leather sofas and stuffed dodo birds. 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. Their Origin of the Species menu has been pleasing crowds with the standout Sin Tax (Time Out Hong Kong Bar Awards 2019 Best Cocktail winner), a gem of a cocktail made with young coconut, kaffir lime liquor, citric solution, and pandan-infused Tanqueray Gin. You can also sip on drams of whisky from their extensive collection and pair them with Stockton's signature Cuban cigars. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

Frank's Library is a bar hidden within 1950s-style bar Foxglove which is 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 is a cut above Foxglove's usual offerings.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

Since it opened in 2020, The Diplomat  – Time Out Bar Awards Best New Bar for 2020 – has since cemented itself as one of the 'must-visit' bars in the city. Behind the bar is award-winning mixologist John Nugent who is known for his innovative twists on old classics. Though its location is not so hidden, the bar hides a secret pink VIP room that you can only enter through 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
  • Cocktail bars
  • Wan Chai

A go-to bar for whisky enthusiasts in Hong Kong, Mizunara is tucked away in an old building in Wan Chai. It's not the easiest bar to find, but if you do, you'll find over 800 bottles of whiskies from Japanese, Scottish, American, and Irish distilleries that you can enjoy in various whisky cocktails on the menu, all of which have been carefully crafted by 'bartender-in-chief' Masahiko Endo who is always impeccably dressed in a white dinner jacket and bow tie. You can start with their signature cocktails on the menu or request Masahiko to craft a cocktail based on your whisky of choice. 

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  • 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. 

  • 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. Try one of our favourite warm-weather coolers – a Bloody Maria twist called Anger ($120), made with porcini mushroom-infused tequila, served in a red pepper rimmed glass. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Sai Ying Pun

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. Everything about this place is cool, laid-back and thoughtfully curated. The atmosphere and roominess of the space are easily the main draws. But, thankfully, equal thought has gone into the drinks. There’s a huge range of gins and tonics to choose from, including classic Spanish brand Gin Xoriguer and locally owned Perfume Trees.

  • 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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Central

Another of Antonio Lai's bars, presented as an imaginary space within The Pottinger – every floor in the hotel has a maximum of six rooms, so 309 shouldn't exist – sits next to another establishment of his, The Envoy. Once you're inside, expect a menu of classic cocktails given 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 also occasionally hold mixology pop-ups in collaboration with various spirit brands, so make sure to ask for these seasonal menus when you drop by.  

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Kennedy Town

Located at the back of Mexican restaurant 11 Westside – yes, well past the restaurant's bar – is a rare example of an American bar done right in this 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 changes every couple of months. The bartenders behind the bar can also whip up any classic and modern classic cocktails so guests can request based on their drink preference. Regular guests who are fond of the cocktails from the defunct menu can always ask the bartenders to shake it up for them. A popular drink that people always come back for is the XYZ ($140) made with rum, orange liqueur, and lemon juice.

How about some drinks with a view?

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