Best Sips is a look-back on the most incredible drinks — alcoholic or otherwise — we had in the past month. Those which renewed our love for established venues; caught our attention at a new opening; or freshly impressed upon us the creativity and skill of Hong Kong’s talented bartenders and mixologists alike. From tipples at charming dive bars to award-winning apéritif at five-star establishments, these are the best drinks to try in Hong Kong; the drinks we’d recommend you make a special trip for.
The drink: Smoke Bomb (HK$98)
I’m a thrifty girl; if my drink comes with a side of complimentary theatrics, I’m all for it. A drink with a show! The star of the menu’s Serendipity selection, Smoke Bomb sits pretty in a slim coupe (Boticario’s slew of glassware is top-notch and so special, if you’re into that kind of thing, by the way), simmering as a ruby-red, Diplomatico Planas rum-based concoction that’s fresh and fruity on the palate. Once the bubble bursts, a gossamer mist drifts and lands, infusing yet another layer of smoky complexity to the drink. Phones at the ready, please; a sight breeze can, have and will pop the bubble. The bartenders are nice enough to make another, though, so just ask. — Joey Wong, Editor
Olé Spanish Restaurant
The drink: Strawberry Sangria (HK$ 130/ glass; HK$520/ jug)
It’s always a good time for a glass of beautiful wine, but during the balmy summer months, it’s the sangria that stars centre-stage. Being essentially a wine-based fruit punch, it’s hard not to love, especially when they’re so evocative of summers in Spain. Salud! No surprise then, that at Olé, sangrias claim top spot upon the cantina’s extensive beverage list. There’s a familiar choice for distinct camps: a classic red with orange and cinnamon for traditionalists and an intriguing white ‘Verdejo’ with green apples and mint. But one that’ll likely unite both sides is an Olé’s original and my favourite drink of choice, strawberry sangria. It tastes as delightful as it sounds; a light, subtly sweet libel perfectly attuned to the palates of summer, and will offer a satisfying first sip in this humidity. The recipe strays ever-so-slightly from the original with a white wine and cava base that’s brightened with a splash of gin. Stirred-in strawberry purée gives this sparkling glass its pretty pink hue, afloat with refreshing slices of strawberries, oranges and limes. It’s smooth and light, delightfully aromatic on the nose; a not-just-one kind of drink. So go for the jug. Don’t overthink it. — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor
The drink: Lemonade (HK$60)
Far more than its infamous Bak Gwei, Alvy’s drinks menu is just as sumptuous. Whether you fancy yours virgin or spiked with smoky bourbon, you’ll want to order quickly for fear of their in-house made lemonade running out; sweet, tangy and everything you’d hope for in an American-style lemonade, there’s no resisting this one. We’ll take a pitcher, please! — Lexi Davey, Managing Editor
The drink: Dear Polly (HK$120)
A refined marriage of two distinctive brands, Foxglove is currently serving three special cocktails in collaboration with the perfumes of Vilhelm Parfumerie. Simply reading the ingredient list of the drink, Dear Polly stood out as what would be my favourite of the set.
Grounded with milk wash pisco, and elevated again by the fruity tones of bergamot, the sweet addition of fig marmalade tied the drink together in a tangy finish. Available only until mid-July, each customer who orders a collaboration drink will receive a complimentary set of Vilhelm fragrances, redeemable in various JOYCE boutiques. — Sandra Kwong, Features Editor
Kyle & Bain
The drink: Mirepoix Martini (HK$140)
As beverage director for Kevin Poon and Gerald Li’s Leading Nation hospitality group, veteran mixologist John Nugent has no shortage of credentials: you’ve likely seen the Lily & Bloom alum holding court at the bar he co-founded, The Diplomat, slinging classic cocktails with a twist alongside his own one-of-a-kind creations. His latest venture, Kyle & Bain, is a speakeasy-style love letter to the spirit of the Martini, tucked away up a staircase inside the newly-opened Margo in Central. His Mirepoix Martini immediately caught my eye, and the savoury hints of onion and celery popping out of an allium-infused vodka over a bed of blanc vermouth and Fino sherry caught the rest. If savoury isn’t your thing, try the silky smooth Just Grapes, his Gimlet with truffled lime or a personal favourite, his Ocho Tequila Soda, one of the coldest in the city. — Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
(Hero and featured images courtesy of Boticario)