Following the recent arrivals of Ophelia and J.Boroski, designer extraordinaire Ashley Sutton has opened his third, highly anticipated Hong Kong bar, The Iron Fairies. With sister locations in Bangkok and Tokyo, this bar is undoubtedly one of fall’s biggest openings — and it’s quite unlike anywhere else in the city. Sutton’s establishments are known for mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, eclectic decor, and The Iron Fairies is no exception. Indeed, this is one bar you’ve got see in person to believe.
Whereas Ophelia conjures 19th-century opium dens and J.Boroski reflects the interests and obsessions of its namesake head mixologist, The Iron Fairies is inspired by Sutton’s experiences in iron ore mines in Western Australia, not to mention his trilogy of children’s books about a band of miners who forge iron-fairy figurines. As with the Bangkok and Tokyo locations, Hong Kong’s Iron Fairies has been outfitted to resemble a blacksmith’s workshop, with principal design elements including iron, timber, brick and leather. Metal-making tools line the walls, vials of ‘fairy dust’ hang from the ceiling in clusters and — most incredible of all — some 10,000 preserved butterflies dangle overhead, suspended on tiny metal rods. Watching them sway back and forth is simply mesmerising.
Accommodating 80 guests, the space comprises a main ‘workshop’ space — where you can sit on stools surrounding low-rise, circular tables topped with the namesake iron fairies — and, lining the perimeter, six individually designed ‘furnaces’ and ‘casting rooms’, essentially private spaces where small groups can congregate. Candles flicker in the corners of those rooms, and also on heavy iron chandeliers that hover at eye level in the main space. Last but not least, in one corner sits a small stage that will host an ever-changing roster of jazz and blues acts. All taken in at once, the bar feels mysterious and magical, and you’ll likely feel like you’ve stepped into another world.
The Iron Fairies is Sutton’s third project with Hong Kong-based Dining Concepts, and like the Tokyo and Bangkok bars, this one features creative cocktails designed by frequent collaborator Joseph Boroski in addition to wine and beer. Our favourite of the three drinks we sampled was the Pink Tako, a sweet concoction featuring a rather unusual and visually striking garnish of dried octopus. To complement the beverages, head chef Todd Williams has put together a menu of comfort food including burgers, fried pork knuckle and mac & cheese to keep revellers well fed.
We preferred the private environs of the furnaces and casting rooms to the centre of the space, but it’s worth noting that reservations are required for all six rooms, and getting in and out of them requires dealing with stairs, small entryways and low ceilings, not the easiest thing to do if you’re holding a cocktail in your hand. If you find yourself in the main area, take the time to examine the iron fairies; you’ll find there are 12 different figurines, each with her own (often mischievous) personality. Guests will be able to purchase the fairies, along with fairy dust and Sutton’s book trilogy, from the bar, making for unique trinkets or gifts.
If Ophelia oozes louche sex appeal and J.Boroski radiates a subdued yet sophisticated cool, then The Iron Fairies is an enchanted wonderland to be enjoyed by dreamers, a Narnia spawned from the fantastical mind of Ashley Sutton. In a city that sometimes feels short on creativity and imagination, we’ll be happy to escape to this subterranean fantasy land as often as possible.
To get a better look inside the bar, check out this behind-the-scenes video, which shows how Sutton brought his concept to life.
The Iron Fairies, LG, Chinachem Hollywood Centre, 1-13 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2603 6992, diningconcepts.com