One of my favourite things about Hong Kong is how vibrant the bar scene is. Everywhere you go, there is a fun and exciting drinking den to explore. Whether it's hidden, al fresco, thematic, or a no-frills bar, there's something to suit anyone's taste. The ones that catch my interest, however, are bars that not only serve a beverage but also provide an experience that elevates the way people think about their drinks and helps push the boundaries of the bar industry. After seeing so many new bars opening in the city, Four Seasons Hotel's new bar Argo – lead by its ship captain, Four Seasons beverage manager and Time Out's 2020 Bartender of the Year Lorenzo Antinori, together with a talented bartending team which includes Speed Rack Asia 2019 winner Summer Lo and 2019 Time Out Rising Star Yvonne Chan – seems to be one of the most promising.
The former Blue Bar's eyesore column is transformed into Argo's centerstage bar with bottle compartments that automatically opens and closes
The 70-seater bar – designed to emulate a conservatory with small terrariums and mirrors flooded with natural light and views of the Victoria Harbour – replaces the former Blue Bar in the hotel's lobby and marks the second phase of the hotel's renovation.
The bar takes its name from the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts who sailed on the ship called Argo in search of the Golden Fleece. Inspired by this story of journey and discovery, the bar aims to serve as a vessel for innovation and exploration, challenging the way we think about drinks. "Our goal was to somehow relate with the world around us, look at how it's shaping the way we drink, and the way we think about spirits," explains Lorenzo."I've always been a fan of innovation and always try to understand where the next trend could take us. And if you look at the world around us, you'll see how things are changing so fast," he adds.
Single Origin Negroni ($140) made with St George Terroir gin, cascara vermouth, Hulu Gali cocoa, Campari, and smoked jalapeño
Compared to Caprice bar, located on the sixth floor of the hotel, which has a more formal setting and focuses on seasonal ingredients, Argo is more relaxed, highlights innovative spirits, and offers a cocktail menu with ingredients at risk of becoming endangered in the future. "Argo wants to be, first of all, a fun place," Lorenzo shares, who jokingly points to his sneakers to tell us that finally, he can wear these comfortable shoes for work. "We wanted to break away from the traditional hotel bar setting and create a sophisticated yet approachable space. At the same time, we hope to trigger guests' curiosity and excitement for innovative spirits, cocktails, and the great stories behind those," he adds.
Argo offers the 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow' cocktail menu – the first of its cocktail menu that will change annually – celebrating six staple ingredients – coffee, honey, rice, cacao, vanilla, and apples – at risk of becoming endangered in the future because of climate change or the way it is being cultivated. Ingredients used in each of the cocktails come from local and overseas farmers and producers of premium spirits. Must-tries from the menu include the Single Origin Negroni ($140), a well rounded Negroni with subtle chocolate flavours, aged in cocoa pods from a Malaysian farm that supports indigenous tribes in the vicinity; Argo Martini ($150) – served two ways: citrus or savoury – made with the bar's signature gin, and it's not shaken or stirred but topped with seasonal hydrosols, also known as 'flower waters,' produced by distilling fresh ingredients like herbs and fruits with water; a delicious clarified milk punch Bark, Leaf & Love ($140) served in a ceramic glass; a three-flight spirit-forward gimlet using three different kinds of gin; and the spirit-forward Skynet Old Fashioned ($140) – named after Skynet, the rogue artificial intelligence that leads the army of machines in Terminator – filled with toasted coconut and salted caramel flavours.
Bark, Leaf & Love ($140) made with Barr Hill honey gin, longan shell and ivy leaf tea, preserved strawberries, split cream, and sandalwood
Lorenzo Antinori Holding the 'Field Guide to the World's Innovative Spirits'
Spirit aficionados can explore new bottles – available in 50ml shots, tasting flights, or as a classic cocktail – with the help of the bar's spirit bible, 'Field Guide to the World's Innovative Spirits', that highlights each bottle's unique story and origin. "We felt that this is the right time to look at the world of spirits under a different light, in a way which reflects the world around us and how it's changing the way we drink and eat," Lorenzo explains. "The world around us is moving fast, and with it the hard rules of spirits making. Regulations are changing, rule-breakers in the field have introduced spirits which we have never seen before, and technology also plays a key role in the process," he says. Half of the bottle collection is available for the very first time in Hong Kong, and interesting bottlings include the world's first AI-created gin Monker's Garkel, lab-made whisky Glyph, Argo's very own signature gin-crafted with Never Never Distilling Co ($880 a bottle; or with a martini glass at $1020), and other quirky spirits that break away from traditional production.
Argo's signature gin crafted with Never Never Distilling Co ($880 a bottle; or with a martini glass at $1020)
From what we have seen so far, Argo looks like a unified, well-oiled bar machine geared to provide guests with a great experience. Drop by on July 15 for its opening. Let go of what you know about drinks and learn a thing or two while enjoying fun, spirited drinks.
Argo is located on the ground floor of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central
Need more inspiration to add to your bar-hopping itinerary? Visit this list of new bars in the city or check out the latest restaurants to open in Hong Kong now. Want to hear the latest city news and learn about what's happening in the city? Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to get the news!