A change of scene
Most gay bars in Hong Kong fall into one of two categories. They’re either super small spaces tucked away in some alley off Noho, or flamboyant party venues à la Propaganda. There’s been little representation for venues in between. That is, until the opening of Psychic Jack (which, coincidentally enough, is owned by Propaganda) – a new lounge located right on the cusp of Wyndham and Glenealy.
Psychic Jack’s polka-dotted bronze door opens into what was formerly Works Bar (which, before that, used to be Propaganda). The low ceiling is an advantage to the space, working with the moody, dim lighting (designed by Hong Kong-based company Light Directions Ltd) to create an intimate atmosphere for the hushed venue. With the help of architectural firm Zanghellini & Holt, Psychic Jack’s owners have managed to keep their sophisticated space fun with various quirky details, ranging from the two pop art bunny figurines perched on the bar, to the back-lit tanks of translucent jellyfish fitted at the front of the room.
The lounge’s spacious, open layout is another big plus. A long island bar runs down the middle of the room, hosting a line of swivel stools on one side and a handsome cast of gay (sorry ladies) bartenders on the other. On the main floor, clusters of high tables are arranged to allow plenty of room for mixing and mingling. Seats by the open windows look out to the Fringe Club – a welcome change of scenery from the half-drunken crowds that serve as a backdrop for clubs and bars in LKF. For those looking for an even quieter, private nook, Psychic offers three cordoned-off VIP areas fixed with comfy settees and couch-padded stools.
According to the owners – who spent over a year fine-tuning the lounge’s concept – Psychic Jack was designed to be everything Propaganda is not. In place of the pounding music, there are soothing, loungey tunes played by their resident pianist; instead of the post-1am crowd, they cater to the early evening gang looking for a casual sip before heading home; rather than slinging out gin-and-tonics/vodka-Redbulls, Psychic Jack focuses on fine wines, champagnes and intricate cocktails.
The wine collection is by no means extensive, with only a few dozen reds, whites and bubblies. But this is the sort of place that favours carefully culled quality over quantity. The same goes for their mixed drinks: when asked for their signatures the bartenders stick by their martinis and sours, which are made with extra attention to the raw ingredients. The apple martini ($86), for example, is done by shaking Absolut Pear with fresh, muddled green apples and a dash of lemon juice. The mixture is sweet on the nose, without being saccharine or artificial on the tongue. Same goes for the orange-ginger martini ($86), which blends muddled ginger with fresh orange, Canton ginger liqueur and Cointreau. Our favourite though, is the Franglico sour ($86). This petal-pink concoction tastes almost like a light sponge cake with its subtle hints of sweet vanilla and hazelnut mixed in with their secret ingredient of puréed maraschino cherries.
For now, Psychic Jack isn’t trying to compete with anything else in the nightlife scene. It’s not about to displace Drop and it’s definitely not aiming to be the next Propaganda. It’s just trying to be exactly what Hong Kong was missing.
1/F, 30-32 Wyndham St, Central, 2868 6102.