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.
208 Duecento Otto
The drink: Duecentotto Spritz (HK$98)
I’ll be the first on to say it — vermouth? Not really my thing. You might be bewildered, then, at my presence at Hong Kong’s first vermuteria (a brand-new concept by your favourite neighbourhood haunt, 208 Duecento Otto), and you’d be right to be. In my defence, I am a fan of being proven wrong — which is exactly what was meant to happen with my first sip of the Duecentotto Spritz. Rendered from Mancino Rosso Vermouth, Imperdibile soda and a touch of bergamot, the tipple is light-handed and perfectly situated for that ‘sip-and-sigh‘ kind of refreshing; a serious nod to Bar Manager Matteo Stefani who heard my qualms about vermouth and personalised the drink in a way he knew I’d enjoy. Be fastidious about your order, too; Stefani (and his incredible expertise) is here to please.
Guests in my party also tried a white Negroni to numerous repetitive proclamations of delight; a must-try if you love Campari. — Joey Wong, Editor
181 at Fortnum & Mason
The drink: Earl Henry Sour
Upon entrance from a curlicued stretch of stairs, you’ll find yourself immersed within a space nostalgic for a specific era of British fare so intrinsic to Fortnum’s brand, and beyond; Victoria Harbour, lit up and gleaming. Fortnum gets storytelling incredibly right, down to the very ingredients of its libations, which is often tea-inspired, because, of course. Sired as nobility, the Earl Henry Sour wears its title well; a drink infused with F&M’s Countess Grey tea (a twist on orange pekoe), cachaça, lime juice and banana preserve. It’s smooth, it’s fragrant, it pairs like a dream with Fortnum’s bar snack of choice: Stilton Cheese Straws. Super yum. — JW
The drink: Semei sour (HK$160)
You shouldn’t expect anything less than theatrical from a cocktail headlining with ‘smoke’ as one of its main ingredients. Zuma’s Semei Sour is one such tipple; arriving veiled with glass and presented at the table with a fired-up shot of smoke. Then, uncovered, left adrift in a blanket of mist. End scene. Exit stage left. Melodramatics aside, the Semei Sour holds up to par with a decadent infusion of Japanese whisky, yuzu juice and plum bitters; on the palate, textured with that silky, egg white-tempered mouthfeel. If you want a front-row seat to a spot of theatre with the best sip of the night, Zuma’s Semei Sour is your order. Make sure your phone’s at the ready for that Instagram Boomerang capture. — JW
The drink: Vodka Soda Yuzu Ginger (HK$360/12-pack)
My affinity for canned beverages is well-documented. Legendary, even. The ‘click-and-fizz’ of a pull-tab being tugged open is my version of nirvana; corkscrews, no thanks. Brand-new to Hong Kong’s ready-to-drink scene and in my favourite drinks vessel of choice, ONLY’s Vodka Sodas arrive with a full laundry-list of greats: Gluten free. Vegan. Keto friendly. No artificial flavours. No preservatives. No artificial sweeteners. A mere 80 calories per can. There truly isn’t much more you can ask for from a cheeky, boozy can. I’m a bit of a aficionado for anything ginger-related, so Yuzu Ginger is my flavour of choice, but the Tahitian Lime is, of course, the OG combination. Picnics at Tamar? Junk party out at sea? You’d be remiss not to stash a couple of ONLY six-packs in your to-go cooler. — JW
The drink: Tepachisimo – Tepache Mexican Probiotic Pineapple Soda (HK$30)
In a unique collaboration with Moonzen Brewery, this probiotic pineapple soda is the refreshing, non-alocholic alternative I’ve been searching for. Only 12 calories a bottle (not that a calorie count is the be-all!) the taste is akin to that of a light kombucha, but more on the sour side. Full of prebiotics, probiotics, vitamins and antioxidants, this take on traditional Mexican Tepache is what I’ll find myself sipping by the sea this summer. – Lexi Davey, Managing Editor
The drink: Tomatini (HK$125)
I’m no adventurous drinker, sadly. As mentioned before, I prefer to stick to beverages that I know I will love. But off an enthusiastic recommendation from LPM’s personable staff, the Tomatini was my choice for the night. Out of my ordinary, sure, but absolutely would order again. And again.
Served in a sleek, tall-stemmed martini glass, this pretty coral beverage is somewhat of a superstar; a standing LPM signature, shared across all international outposts. It’s no surprise why. Christened as Tomatini — a twist on the classic martini, if it wasn’t obvious enough, the vodka-based tipple is tangy, savoury and a touch peppery — much like a cool Spanish gazpacho on a hot summer’s day — at first sip. It’s unexpected but surprisingly refreshing, with a teeny-tiny hint of sweetness from the balsamic vinegar and cane sugar. Don’t try to dissect the Tomatini on the cocktail menu, though, there’s no list of ingredients, but in place a short-and-sweet description reading “The essence of LPM” that you should just have 100 per cent faith in. It’s good; an easy downer and especially well-paired with the restaurant’s spring seasonal menu. A fair contender to my summer favourite Aperol spritz. — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor
The pod: ‘Made with Care’ Kahawa Ya Congo (HK$67)
It’s no close-guarded secret: We love our cups of coffee here at LSA. Our source of life as we plow through a difficult week. While I’m no coffee connoisseur by any means, I’ve learnt to appreciate my morning mugful — afternoon brew or whenever really — particularly with a splash of oatmilk.
So when it comes to this Nespresso’s newest Kahawa Ya Congo, curated as part of the brand’s ‘Made with Care’ campaign, it’s a brew that not only tastes good but <em>feels</em> good while sipping as well. It’s made with a more thoughtful, considerate process that restores coffee production in endangered regions. This particular pod is born from the volcanic soils of Lake Kivu in the Democracic Republic of Congo. A wonderfully aromatic sip; especially restorative on Monday AM and absolutely gleeful on a Friday PM with a shot of Baileys — how I enjoyed my last delightful cuppa. — LS
(Hero and featured images courtesy of Zuma Hong Kong)