Partaking in Dry January? Stay hydrated with our list of Hong Kong’s best bars for mocktails.
It goes without saying that, at Lifestyle Asia, we love a good tipple. Hong Kong’s vibrant assortment of bars and boozy restaurants continues to inspire countless of our favourite stories, and in a city where residents work weeks that are 38 percent longer than the global average, the joys of a well-timed libation are nothing short of miraculous.
Still, it’s 2020, and we get that certain quarters of polite society just aren’t that fussed about the latest wave of gin, wine, whisky, and bathtub booze. That’s why we’re recommending five of the best mocktail bars in Hong Kong. Whether you’re a lifelong teetotaler or simply aiming for a healthier start to 2020, these venues have you covered with an assortment of drinks that are big on flavour — despite a booze-free pedigree.
Every weekend without fail, thirsty drinkers congregate along an outwardly unremarkable stretch of Old Bailey Street, turning the hilly thoroughfare — a stone’s throw from Tai Kwun — into a sort of impromptu block party. At the centre of it all is The Pontiac: an award-winning collaboration between Beckaly Franks and Harsh Roopchand, which takes the (rather brilliant) tact of serving high-fidelity cocktails in a setting reminiscent of Coyote Ugly.
Franks’s mixological stylings embrace the proverbial ‘lit’ energy that is at the heart of The Pontiac’s ambience. To that end, you won’t find any exclusively non-alcoholic options on the menu: though two of the newer creations can be made on Seedlip (a delicious ABV-free spirit that’s taken the industry by storm). We’re big fans of ‘Truth Hurts’ (HK$88), an exhilarating concoction of grapefruit, cinnamon, vanilla and pink Sichuan peppercorns that turns the traditional long drink on its head.
Serving up refined Jiangnan cuisine — encompassing the traditions of various Chinese cities south of the Yangtze River — in a space designed by Herzog & de Meuron, Old Bailey isn’t the most obvious place which comes to mind when you’re craving an imaginative and tasty mocktail. Unexpectedly, the restaurant’s penchant for light, natural ingredients carries over to the bar programme, wherein spirit-free concoctions like ‘The Lemon Tree and The Pomelo’ (HK$60) are the order of the day: swapping a predictable shortlist of ‘artisanal’ spirits for an array of flavourful, regionally-sourced Chinese teas.
Taking up residence in digs formerly occupied by 121BC, Jalan is a new kitchen-slash-bar concept which brings mamak-style cooking to the heart of Soho. The focus is undoubtedly on classic Southeast Asian bites — think along the lines of rojak salad and rendang — though Jalan’s bartenders have crafted several booze-free beverages that add a touch of lightness to the intensity of the food menu. A quartet of non-alcoholic cocktails, packed to bursting with fresh fruit and housemade syrups is the order of the day. Try one of the hilariously named ‘Granny’s Panties’ — a refreshing mixture of various berries, lavender syrup, and rosemary, served up and shaken over ice.
Serving an extensive menu of ingredient-driven Catalonian fare against the backdrop of ifc, La Rambla has been an enduring favourite of Spanish food lovers since it opened in 2018. Chef Ferran Tadeo’s penchant for elevated classics is complemented by the equally popular G&T trolley — chief inspiration for La Rambla’s latest mocktail. Built using Seedlip Garden, hibiscus, citrus, and a spritz of tonic water, the ‘Gardenia’ is a flavoursome alternative to the more obvious Barcelona-style G&T — combining floral, citric, and herbaceous notes for a flavour profile that goes the distance at any time of day.
At Dai Bing, proprietor Juan Martínez Gregorio’s focus on crystal-clear, diamond-hard ice (of blanco oro proportions) results in a menu which veers sharply in the direction of long, stirred drinks. Most of the recipes can be broken down into only a handful of ingredients — simple on-paper assemblages that are capable of achieving greatness only in the hands of a truly meticulous bartender. Ditto for Dai Bing’s mocktails: the Yuzu Lemonade (HK$110) is an especial crowdpleaser, which takes two seemingly ubiquitous ingredients and weaves them into one of the best beverages on the entire menu.