Top 10 Hong Kong Cocktail Bars
The Hong Kong cocktail scene is gaining plaudits for taste and entertainment. Eliot Ip seeks out ten of the best places to sip and be seen sipping
From the hard-to-find Wyndham The Fourth to the mixology mecca that is Mo Bar, the city is becoming home for many skilled bartenders who are keen to find a receptive audience for their audacious flavour combinations.
As reported in the November issue of the drinks business Hong Kong, there is a cosmopolitan mix of bartenders in Hong Kong, ranging from the Italian Giancarlo Mancino to Australian Tom Wood.
Aside from the presence of renowned bartenders from abroad, there is a growing number of local bartenders keen to learn their craft, inspired by the likes of Mancino and Wood, as well as the success of local boy, Antonio Lai at Quinary.
Click through the following pages to see 10 of the best cocktail bars in Hong Kong.
10. WYNDHAM THE 4TH
After being crowned the city’s first ever Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year, Tom Wood makes his official Hong Kong debut with this dark and mysterious cocktail haven. The space channels a thoroughly refined ambiance with soothing jazz and plush furnishings complementing Wood’s multisensory liquid creations.
Try the Lucky Number Four, which combines the robust and rounded flavours of thyme, apples, apricots and smoky Talisker whisky. For brighter flavours, go for the classic Pink Lady cocktail spun from Tanqueray gin, Calvados, pomegranate and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
4/F, 48 Wyndham St, Central, 2523 8001, wyndhamthe4th.hk
This cocktail bar and nightclub duplex is inspired by all things weird and wonderful. The surreal experience starts at the entrance, which is decked out like an apothecary from the days of yore. Washed in white, the ground-floor bar is a dreamlike arena, complete with a baby grand piano hanging from the ceiling.
Here, guests can enjoy a range of innovative cocktails, many done with a molecular twist (expect gels, foams, spherification and the likes). Things take a darker turn when you head down the stairs and into Taboo’s club zone, which comes with DJ booths, dance floors and working shower stalls for some sort of weekend cabaret performance. After all, this place isn’t called Taboo for a reason.
16 Arbuthnot Rd, Central, 9643 6571; www.taboo.com.hk
Avant garde techniques meet classic recipes at this dedicated cocktail bar headed by award-winning mixologist Antonio Lai. Within the Quinary’s stylized vintage laboratory setting, guests can look forward to cutting edge libations such as the trademark Oolong Tea Collins (vodka, soda and homemade tea cordial) and the house special Bloody Mary made with wasabi-redistilled vodka.
The expert mixologists also serve clean cut classics culled from the bartender’s manual. Quinary’s owners are serious about their liqueurs and spirits so don’t be surprised if you see ultra-rare and exclusive bottles sitting on the shelves.
56-58 Hollywood Rd, Central, 2851 3223; www.quinary.hk
7. MO BAR
This chic bar and restaurant is a perennial favourite with the city’s cocktail-sipping crowd. The bartenders are serious about their craft and only use top-tier spirits, fresh ingredients and homemade syrups in their drinks. The cocktail list covers ample ground, from classics like the Hemingway Daiquiri, to modern house inventions such as the Rose Petal (Belvedere vodka, lychee liqueur, rose syrup and fresh lychee).
MO Bar is also known for hosting some of the world’s top bartenders during its annual Masters of Mixology event. Cocktail aficionados should definitely check this out.
G/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 16 Queen’s Rd, Central, 2132 0077
Opened in 2010, this Prohibition Era- inspired cocktail den remains one of the hottest watering holes in the city. Modelled after supper clubs and speakeasies that flourished at the beginning of the twentieth century, Lily’s old-school ethos trickles into its repertoire of classic cocktail recipes done with a contemporary edge.
The Old Fashioned here is made with premium 23-year-old Ron Zacapa rum while Caipiroskas are flavoured with fresh, seasonal fruits sourced from the markets. Lily also serves bar bites well past midnight, making it a popular spot for late night revellers.
5/F & 6/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham St, Central, 2810 6166; www.lily-bloom.com
The bartenders here pay due reverence to tradition and insist that all their cocktails are prepared according to classic recipes. Drinks are crafted from premium ingredients so expect high-pedigree spirits served with hand-carved ice, and Bloody Marys made with fresh tomato juice. L’étage also boasts a cigar tasting lounge that’s managed by Sir David Tang’s Pacific Cigar Company. Coined The Humidor, the lounge stocks some of the finest Cuban cigars in the world, making a definite must-visit for cigar connoisseurs.
22/F, Macau Yat Yuen Centre, 525 Hennessy Rd, Causeway Bay, 2522 5300; www.letage.com.hk
4. HONI HONI TIKI COCKTAIL LOUNGE
Hong Kong gets in on the Tiki revival thanks to this newly opened cocktail lounge. Inspired by classic Tiki bars such as San Francisco’s Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, Honi Honi’s seasoned bartender Max Traverse shakes up a wide array of tropical cocktails that’ll put you in the holiday spirit.
Get started on timeless creations like the Mai Tai and Pina Colada, or go for one of Traverse’s house specials such as the Maori Spring Punch made from vodka, fresh watermelon, Thai chillies and lemongrass. Of course, Honi Honi also boasts resort-like digs to match the cocktails so kick back, relax and enjoy your drink in this Polynesian paradise.
3/F, 52 Wellington St, Central, 2353 0885; www.honihonibar.com
Leave your drinks in the hands of Butler’s owner and master mixologist Masayuki Uchida. Having worked at some of the finest cocktail joints in Ginza, Tokyo, Uchida operates like a true artiste behind the bar, crafting pitch perfect drinks from premium, hand-selected ingredients. Uchida offers a solid line-up of classic libations, such as the Moscow Mule, which he serves the old fashioned way in copper mugs.
Guests can also enjoy some of the more experimental house creations, including a delicious Mojito scented with perilla leaves. A word of advice: the bar is not the biggest in the world so be sure to book ahead if you’re planning a visit during busy weekend hours.
5/F, Mody House, 30 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2724 3828
2. 81⁄2 OTTO E MEZZO
Most people know Umberto Bombana’s glitzy restaurant for its stellar Italian cuisine but this three Michelin-starred establishment also boasts a fantastic bar menu brimming with carefully tailored cocktails. Martinis are the main draw here and the well-groomed bartenders do the full range, from the fuss-free classic to chocolate-laced renditions. You’ll also find drinks based on popular Italian liqueurs such as Campari and Aperol. If you need another reason to visit, the cocktail bar serves delicious small bites to anchor the alcohol. You can drop by for an after-work aperitivo or stick around and enjoy a delightful post-dinner tipple.
Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Rd, Central, 2537 8859; www.ottoemezzobombana.com.
Enjoy a tipple and a show at this cosy, tucked away cocktail lounge. The mixologists show off cool flair tricks behind the bar including juggling and – if you’re lucky – flaming liqueurs. The theatrics usually happen later in the evening but that shouldn’t stop you from dropping by earlier for one of +852’s deliciously inventive drinks. Definitely try the Szechuan Chocolate Martini, which marries sweet and spicy in sippable form. Other recommendations include the juniper gin-based Boosma Sour, Orange Plum Daiquiri and a Christmassy Gingerbread Bellini.
2 Glenealy, Central, 2537 3281