Fairies, peacocks and beetles, oh my! When it comes to themed bars in Hong Kong, we’re certainly not lacking weird and wonderful places to enjoy a cocktail or two. From Iron Fairies, designed by the doyen of whimsy, Ashley Sutton, to Missy Ho's, an unmarked bar that pays homage to Hong Kong’s cultural past, these bars masterfully weave together fantasy and craft cocktail culture. The next time you want more than just a great drink, check out these playful watering holes, hidden in plain sight across Hong Kong. By Sophie Pettit
RECOMMENDED: Skip the themes and go straight to one of Hong Kong's best cocktail bars.
Hong Kong's best themed cocktail bars
Hidden behind what appears to be an exotic bird shop in Lee Tung Avenue, this opulent Ashley Sutton-designed venue screams ‘over the top’ and is sure to be a favourite among those who love a bit of drama. Inspired by the opium dens of the 19th century, the bar emulates the vibe of a Shanghai speakeasy, which centres on the theme of peacocks – in particular one named Ophelia – who was adored by an eccentric (and fictitious) bird collector called Mr Wong. Adorned with giant bird cages, feather-clad ‘muses’ sprawled above the bar and swings that lure you in for that token Instagram pic, this exotic, green-hued wonderland is trippy, to say the least. Swing by at 9pm on a Wednesday or Saturday and you’ll catch a sexy dance performance, too.
Feeling a little under the weather? Then it might be time to pay Dr Fern a visit for a medicinal dose of G&T. You know you’re in for a treat when you open the Waiting Room door of this quirky basement bar in the Landmark mall. Decked out with old-fashioned chairs, fern-patterned wallpaper and jars of dried botanicals, this cosy venue boasts 250 types of gin, which are beautifully blended with aromatic herbs and served in vibrant tea cups. And if you have trouble choosing the right remedy for your ailments from the 20-page drinks menu, you can always ask one of Dr Fern’s physicians for some medical advice – you’ll spot them hovering around in white lab coats.
If you’re not a fan of creepy crawlies – but you appreciate an expertly made cocktail – then you might have to put on a brave face when you enter this secluded hideaway. Resembling an old-fashioned train carriage, with one side of the wall completely adorned with preserved scarab beetles and another area with spiders, this bar, the brainchild of globetrotting mixology maestro Joseph Boroski, is ideal for those with a sense of adventure, just not arachnophobia. The bar requires an ‘invitation’ to get in, (you can request one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org) and offers a unique cocktail concierge service whereby customers can enjoy custom cocktails based entirely on their choice of spirit and flavours.
Disguised as an old stamp shop tucked away on Pound Lane in Sheung Wan, this kitsch and colourful bar requires you to press the correct chop at the entrance to open its doors. When you do find the right one (hint: direct your attention to the well-lit glass case), you’ll be rewarded with a fuchsia-tinted treasure trove full of trinkets belonging to the ‘charismatic’ and ‘exotic’ burlesque dancer Mrs Pound. Oversized jewels, feathered masks and all manner of knick-knacks sit in glass cabinets around the edge of the venue, which once concealed the feisty muse who was said to win the heart of wealthy Mr Ming hiding her there in secret. The cocktails are just as vibrant as the interior, with the spicy Pound’s Mary packing a punch with tom yum-infused vodka. And if you get peckish, there’s a tempting selection of Asian style street food to keep you satisfied.
Who says fairies don’t exist? Enter this enchanting wonderland off Hollywood Road and you’ll find plenty to unlock your inner child’s imagination. Ten thousand butterflies dangle above the bar, while clusters of bottles containing fairy dust hang from the ceiling in this lavish venue designed, once again, by Ashley Sutton. Inspired by the iron ore mines in Western Australia, and Sutton’s trilogy of children’s books about a band of miners who forge iron fairy figurines, this fantasy-filled cave is as magical as it gets. For a more intimate adventure, hop inside one of the large iron furnaces and enjoy a cocktail by candlelight. Just don’t steal a fairy, unless you want bad karma for life.
Paying homage to Hong Kong’s cultural past, this unmarked bar in Kennedy Town is filled with birdcages, old photographs and endless wacky and tacky trinkets that will get conversation started. There’s even a wall of dress-up hats, masks and props for you to create ridiculous selfies, should you feel inspired after one too many Missy Ho’s Fizzes – be warned, this potent blend contains whiskey and absinthe. The bar also serves funky fusion cuisine, which includes devilishly moreish dishes like pork belly bao, miso butter grilled corn and tempura prawn rolls.
Romantic souls will lap up the vibe in this stunning glass-walled bar located on the roof of ifc mall. Although smaller in size than originally planned (this is Hong Kong, after all), the venue succeeds in transporting you to an enchanting, fairy tale world filled with floating love letters, fragrant blooms and vintage perfume bottles. Inspired by the dreamy hole-in-the-wall florists found along the quaint boulevards in Paris, as well as designer Ashley Sutton’s fascination with the mysterious jewellery boxes kept by his female cousins when he was a child, Dear Lilly is a delight to all the senses — and your Instagram feed. Clusters of radiant roses and love letters levitate above the heart-shaped bar, as the mixologists whip up French-inspired cocktails, each beautifully presented in Victorian-style teacups. Make sure to look down and admire the striking heart-shaped marble inlays in the floor, each engraved with extracts from love letters written by WWI soldiers to their sweethearts.