The best new bars of 2017
An opening from the ealry months of 2017, 99 Bottles isn’t large enough to compete with the likes of Roundhouse or Little Creatures, but it still adds to Hong Kong’s burgeoning craft beer scene with its own taut selection of brews local and international. Whether you want a local craft beer or a seasonal brew from somewhere else in the world, you’ve got options here.
A much anticipated opening, Bar De Luxe somehow managed to meet the expectations of a cocktail bar established by legendary bartender Hidetsugu Ueno, the man behind Tokyo’s famous Bar High Five. The atmosphere is reserved at Bar De Luxe, as befits a Japanese establishment (though that won’t be to everyone’s tastes), and the drinks are among the best in the city and not to be missed.
2017 was mezcal’s coming out party and Coa offers the most in-depth mezcal menu in Hong Kong. It can be a little overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with the spirit but thankfully, staff are extremely welcoming and eager to help you find your way. If you don’t want to be necking the stuff straight up, the cocktails are well worth sampling too.
A convivial late night joint, Employees Only is designed for punters looking for refined drinks in a more sophisticated Lan Kwai Fong setting. Inside, it’s a world away from the usual LKF chaos. The drinks are classy, both modern and classic, and this is one of the few spots in the city where you can have a decent conversation with your bartender, assuming they’re not busy and rushed off their feet.
This bar brings a little slice of Scandinavian comfort to Tsim Sha Tsui. The space is warm and comforting and staff extremely pleasant. Though the drinks and snacks aren’t mind blowing, it’s a cosy space to sit with your laptop sipping a cuppa or a cocktail – and it certainly offers an alternative to what’s on offer over on Knutsford Terrace.
Kwoon is the new venture from the team behind The Woods, primarily serving up canned cocktails (hence the name, meaning ‘can’ in Cantonese), but also offering some classics from the aforementioned Hollywood Road spot. Either option gets you a fine drink and the canned options are especially handy when a celebration or junk season rolls around.
Los Sotano has some trouble providing a rivetting case for why you’d want to venture underground beneath Cali-Mex when Brickhouse, another hidden-ish Mexican bar serving cocktails, mezcal, tequila and small bites, is almost literally right across the street, but it’s still a decent venue in its own right. The menu of more than 70 varieties of tequila and 40 different types of mezcal is impressive and the in-table beer taps are a fun touch for a night out.
The Kowloon Taproom, TAP, The Oak Crafted and now, The Madhouse – Yau Tsim Mong is officially the place to be in Hong Kong for craft beer. This venue is a comfortable, modern and robustly stocked little beer joint. There’s not much else to the place and there really doesn’t need to be. No lunacy, just a bloody good bar for the discerning drinker who wants to sample some of Europe and Asia’s finest craft beers.
It’s hard to think of a stronger foundation for a bar in Hong Kong than The Old Man’s three leading lights: Agung Prabowo, former bar manager of the Mandarin Oriental and Lobster Bar; James Tamang, former bar manager of Vibes; and Roman Ghale, ex-senior bar and restaurant operations manager at The Upper House. The warm service is faultless, the surrounds luxurious yet unpretentious and the drinks come delivered with effortless finesse. A real winner.
With the best selection of sake in the city, excellent small bites and service, this latest addition to PMQ should be your go-to for Japan’s favourite tipple. Our advice? Forget sitting at the bar, though it is pleasant and this means you’ll miss out on the delightful ‘otsumami’ snacks, and grab a spot at one of the tables in the sales area instead. That way you can choose to drink any sake in the place and not be restricted by what’s on offer in the bar area. Kampai!