Anyone who appreciate a well-made drink will already be familiar with The Woods, the brainchild of Victoria Chow, one of Hong Kong’s top female cocktail connoisseurs (not to mention an incredible graphic designer). Falling into hospitality as an outlet for her creative side, the young bar owner has turned The Woods into one of the best-loved drinking dens in Hong Kong, and is now pushing forward with her third venture in Hong Kong, artisanal-canned-cocktail concept Kwoon (occupying what was formerly oyster bar The Walrus).
This experimental concept is the first of its kind in Hong Kong: seven flavours of cocktails are available on tap, and they’re canned on the spot so guests can choose to have their drink on the go or whilst perched on one of the comfy bar stools at the hip, hole-in-the-wall bar. Looking to reinvent the way Hongkongers perceive of and consume their drinks, Chow hopes to have Kwoon cocktails sold at street corner vending machines around town in the future.
For now, thirsty patrons can pop into the concept bar on Staunton Street, a funky storefront encompassing a few tables and a narrow counter lined with the colourfully decorated cans, with retro neon signage and descriptions of the cocktails with their corresponding designs tacked up on the wall above.
Speaking of design, all the cans feature Chow’s hand-drawn artwork, a painstaking process that involved months of drafting countless iterations. The work certainly paid off: the cans are gorgeous, splayed in colourful, abstract designs that speak to the ingredients in each cocktail. The seventh can will feature a rotating design that will spotlight local artists — a neat idea to further the community concept of the project.
As for the flavours, they range from the spicy Tom Yum Cooler to a tropical Piña Tang to the High Tea, made simply with gin, chrysanthemum, and lemon. Our favourite was the Tom Yum, not surprising given the uber-popular Tom Yum shots at The Woods; at Kwoon, Victoria has managed to shake up the formula into a refreshing and flavour-intense concoction, drawing its signature spice from Thai bird’s eye chilli, with a fragrant lift from lemongrass and lemon.
The Barley Sunny is another hit, a complex and earthy tipple made from gin, grapefruit, malted barley, dried tangerine peel, and honey; the Desert Rose features tequila, vermouth, Aperol, and the unique addition of salted plum. Those favouring a more potent drink can sip on Madame Ching, made with dark rum, ginger, raw palm sugar, and lemon; or the Major League Bourbon, an impactful punch of bourbon and homemade cola.
What sets Kwoon’s canned cocktails apart is the premium quality of liquor used, unusual for most cocktails at this price point around Hong Kong, and virtually unheard of in the canned drink variety. Chow ensures that each cocktail is made from the same top-shelf spirits that are used at The Woods; what’s more, each Kwoon can packs more liquor per serving than your standard cocktail (trust us, two sips and we were already feeling the buzz).
At HK$70–$80 per can, discounted to HK$50 during happy hour (we hear grilled cheeses are on the bill for the soon-to-be-launched snack menu), we’ll be back to Kwoon often to enjoy an early evening tipple before dinner; as well as stock up on a stash at home to jazz up everything from dinner parties to weekend junks (the preservative-free cans remain non-perishable for up to two months refrigerated). Quality cocktails on the go? Here’s hoping the concept takes off in a big way.
Kwoon by The Woods is open Mon–Sat. Happy hour runs from 5–8pm on weekdays with HK$50 cans, as well as discounted wine and beers.
Kwoon by The Woods, G/F, 64 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9862 8031