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Hutong Chuan Energy
Photograph: Courtesy Hutong/Tim Winter

9 best cocktails with Hong Kong flavour

Get to know the city one sip at a time

By Time Out Hong Kong
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On May 13, we celebrate World Cocktail Day in commemoration of the first time the definition of a cocktail was ever published in 1806. A New York tabloid defined the now ever-popular drink as "a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters". Since then, cocktails have evolved into the exciting and enticing refreshment we know today, coming in all shapes and sizes, and utilising more types of spirits than most can name. 

Hong Kong has remained a fertile playground for mixologists, who for years have pushed boundaries and added local flavour to their libations to make our city's cocktail scene among the best in the world. We celebrate by giving our rundown on some of the best quintessentially Hong Kong cocktails, and where they can be enjoyed. By Doris Lam and Sam Evans

RECOMMENDED: Enjoy a great night out without the promise of a hangover with the help of these bars with the best low alcohol drinks and mocktails in Hong Kong.

Quintessentially Hong Kong cocktails

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quinary-pr-21-02-2020
Photograph: Courtesy Quinary

Quinary: Haak Lo Mai

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Soho

Named as one of the world's best bars going from 2013 to 2017, the tipples at Quinary never fail to impress. Their Haak Lo Mai ($150) – meaning black glutinous rice in Cantonese – is a creamy dessert drink that will remind you of grandma's warm coconut milk sweet soup. Served in a sleek, matte black glass, the consistency of the drink will make you feel like you're sipping on clouds – the crunchy sweet purple potato chips on top balances out the drink by giving it a fun bite. What's even more impressive is that even their whisky is infused with black glutinous rice, enabling nutty flavours of the grain to really shine through. 

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origin-pr-21-02-2020
Photograph: Courtesy Origin

Origin: WTF

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Central

Tofu in a dessert may sound weird to some people, but to Hongkongers, tofu pudding is a significant part of the city’s culture. Origin’s WTF ($130), aka 'What, Tofu?', plays a nod to the silky-smooth dessert using a blend of tofu-redistilled gin, tofu milkshake, and coconut water. Recreating an intoxicating version of the tofu pudding, not only does it look the part, but it tastes the part too. 

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Hutong Chuan Energy
Hutong Chuan Energy
Photograph: Tim Winter

Hutong: Chuan Energy

Restaurants Tsim Sha Tsui

Calling all spice junkies. Satiate your craving for heat and alcohol in one sip with Hutong’s Chuan Energy. A vodka-based cocktail infused with vanilla, lychee liqueur, and homemade Sichuan pepper honey, all topped with a splash of lime to create a refreshing drink that hits you with that numbing mala sensation that leaves you yearning for more.

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Photograph: Courtesy The Dispensary

The Dispensary: Dan Tat

Bars and pubs Central

This egg tart-inspired cocktail from The Dispensary won't crumble in your mouth, but its flavours will certainly remind you of the flakey pastry. This creamy cocktail is created with a base of Plantation Pineapple Rum, milk-infused egg tart, cream soda, a splash of lemon and nutmeg, and served in a delicate Chinese teacup.

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Cocktail
Cocktail
Photograph: Him

Lee Lo Mei: Traditional No. 8

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Central

It will be no surprise to many that Lee Lo Mei has found a spot on this list. The Central bar with a nostalgic Hong Kong neighbourhood vibe does similarly reminiscent drinks, typified by its Traditional No. 8. This cocktail is a boozy twist on the Hong Kong-style milk tea, but with generous amounts of whisky added to the tea and condensed milk. This milk tea keeps things simple and old school while keeping you buzzed! 

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pdt-pr-21-02-2020
Photograph: Courtesy Please Don't Tell

Please Don’t Tell: V.S.O. Tea

Bars and pubs Hotel bars Central

If you're familiar with Hong Kong's health and wellness scene, you might have heard of Taboocha, the city's very own locally brewed kombucha brand. And if you're a fan, then you're in luck. Incorporating Taboocha's goji berry and ginger green tea kombucha, Please Don't Tell's V.S.O. Tea cocktail ($158) is mixed with V.S.O.P. cognac, Pimm's No.1 Cup, zesty lemon juice, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, and mint. Perfect for post-workout gatherings when you're craving for something between naughty and nice.

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vea-pr-21-02-2020
Photograph: Courtesy VEA

VEA: Mango Pomelo

Restaurants French Sheung Wan

If mango pomelo sago dessert is your go-to when it comes to traditional sweet treats, then this one's for you. The Mango Pomelo drink ($140) at VEA lounge may not look anything like the beloved yellow dessert, but don't let its appearance fool you. Using culinary gastronomy to create the 'sago', the flavour-packing spheres are actually made from clarified mango and coconut cream. Served alongside a shot glass of frozen grapefruit pulp, this light and refreshing cocktail feel almost like a fun science experiment delivered straight from the lab.

Kong by Bread and Beast
Kong by Bread and Beast
Photograph: Courtesy Kong

Bread and Beast: Baiju Negroni

Restaurants Chinese Wan Chai

The Hong Kong-produced baiju in this libation is added to vermouth rosso, Campari, and grapefruit zest for maximum punch. Baiju may still be finding its feet in Hong Kong from a popularity perspective, but this one may very well help.

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Mott 32 -pr-21-02-2020
Photograph: Courtesy Mott 32

Mott 32: Hong Kong Ice Tea

Restaurants Chinese Central

Hong Kong iced tea is many people’s beloved mid-afternoon pick-me-up, which is why we’re glad to find an adult version of the beverage at Mott 32. The Hong Kong Ice Tea ($120) is created with a mixture of tequila, Lillet Blanc, blackcurrant, and jasmine tea. This fruity, crisp alcoholic blend of ingredients will remind you of Hong Kong iced tea’s strong citrus profiles as well as the tea’s bitter aftertaste.

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