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 aperitifs 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.
Fortnum & Mason
The drink: Fortnum’s Sparkling Tea
Champagne and I — we have history. It, somehow, never feels like a celebration until a cork pops (therein, cue delighted hoots) that makes an event, an event. Italicised. The precursor to fun! Congratulations! New Year! Birthday! Yay you!
When we were poured little bubbly flutes of Fortnum’s Sparkling Tea at K11 MUSEA’s Valentine’s Day al-fresco preview, I was expecting a no-alcohol, poor-substitute of the real thing. Colour me surprised when a gently-sweetened, delicately-carbonated sip greets me instead. On the nose, it’s deliciously saccharine; a burst of tropical fruits meets a jasmine finish. As appropriate, considering Fortnum & Mason’s tea expertise, Fortnum’s Sparkling Tea is a certified organic blend of eight rare brews, and best enjoyed like I did: Chilled, clinked, with a very dear friend. — Joey Wong, Editor
Fortnum & Mason, Shop 022, G/F, K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3916 8100
The drink: Suzie Wong
Let me preface by saying that I’m no whisky drinker. In fact, as a rather boring creature of habit, I lean towards tipples I’m familiar with: Aperol spritz, mulled wine, a glass of Riesling. Highballs, then, are far off my radar. As for someone who knows very little of the nuances of whisky appreciation, the Suzie Wong from Zoku (HK$108) was a delightful preview.
Arriving in a tall ribbed glass, the Suzie Wong — inspired by the heroine in the titular 1967 novel ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ — is a light and refreshing libation with bright hints of citrus. Shaken up with cucumber, rose syrup, yuzu soda and of course, whisky, each sip tempts for larger gulps. It’s finished off with a pump of rose water, spritzed tableside from a vintage perfume bottle. Fancy. A concoction perfectly made for warmer weathers — under the sun at Zoku’s leafy terrace perhaps? — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor
Zoku, 2/F, The Hari, 330 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2129 0338
The drink: Classic Italian Blend coffee capsules
I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m anything close to being a coffee connoisseur, but I take my morning cups — and afternoon; and late afternoon too, if I’m being honest — of joe seriously. By that, I mean I’ll take the caffeine in whatever way it presents itself. An Americano at the corner café. A definitely-burnt brew from the convenience store. My favourite (read: most convenient) is the office Nespresso machine. We have a thing.
Cupping Room’s newest home-brew system is, you guessed it, Nespresso machine compatible. The little capsule pods come in 100% biodegradable and compostable plant-based shells, which makes for a coffee experience that’s just that much more sustainable. I’m currently hooked on the Classic Italian blend, which has tasting notes of cacao, malt and salted caramel. I can’t say I can really taste the salted caramel — my palate is admittedly poor; don’t quiz me on wine notes, please — but I like the idea of salted caramel for breakfast. Even if it’s in a mug, served black-coffee style. — JW
Cupping Room x La Viña pop-up, Shop no. LA1, Podium 1, ifc Mall, Central, Hong Kong
The drink: Pickled back highball
We do weeks on ‘juxtaposition’ as a literary device in English lectures; it’s such an interesting dynamic. How words and opposing concepts, when placed in proximity, give birth to a whole different meaning. This something new is the part worth analysing; and this something new is what Penicillin’s Pickled back highball (HK$90) stood for.
Penicillin’s farm-to-bar, leverage-the-local concept is its bread and butter; this concept tunnels through everything from their architecture to their ingredients. Their mangos, for example are sourced from Kam Tin in New Territories. The pickled back highball juxtaposes a briny, savoury flavour — made in-house! — with a stripe of strawberry, painted along the glass so every sip peppers that salted tang with a kick of sweet. Together, it’s a marriage of such different personalities but it just, somehow, works. — JW
Penicillin, LG, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong +852 9880 7995
The drink: Irish coffee slushy
What’s not to love about a slushy cocktail? We know it’s the dead of winter, whatever that means in Hong Kong, but there’s something so satisfying about sipping on an extra-cold slushy. Even more so if it’s a frozen Irish coffee (HK$50) — churned with vanilla ice-cream — from Dead& (pronounced ‘Dead-end’), a charming dive bar at the dead-end of Wo On Lane. It’s a thick, decadent treat and so evocative of summer and beach and carnivals.
Grab yourself and a friend a couple cuppas and make a night of it at the open-air amphitheatre, just past Dead&. It’s a good time. — JW
Dead&, G/F, 18 Wo On Lane, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9886 5711