Getting back into the grind after the long holiday break can be hard, which is why we’re doing away with the “Dry January” concept. If ever there was a reason to imbibe, it’s to get rid of any post-holiday blues. Take the edge off of a stressful schedule this month with a drink or two at Hong Kong’s best new bars.
Bar de Luxe
Bar de Luxe needs no introduction, as the Hong Kong offshoot of the venerable Tokyo institution, Bar High Five. Brought to us by acclaimed mixologist acclaimed mixologist Hidetsugo Ueno, this luxury cocktail den is intensely focused on exploring high-end spirits and expertly handcrafted cocktails, which are shaken up on a daily basis by Hidetsugo’s protoge, Yuriko Naganuma.
The 1,500-square-foot space exudes elegance, with a bar crafted from Japanese walnut and floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the Hong Kong skyline from the 30th floor. Try “The Hidden Gem“, an herbal concoction made with Nikka from the Barrel whisky, Averna and sugarcane syrup (HK$168) — perfect paired with a selection of bar snacks such as Iberico ham platters and grilled bread crumbs with anchovy (HK$138).
Bar de Luxe, 30/F, 8 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3706 5716, attire-house.com
The new Solas on Wyndham is a step up from the dive-y institution that used to be the site of 3am hook-ups and binge-drinking sessions. Halcyon aims to bring a touch of class to the popular Central spot, boasting chic renovated interiors with vinyl light installations, speakers and wires that double as decorative pieces, and a piano-shaped DJ booth. Fitted with a state-of-the-art audio and lighting system, a mix of jazz, hip-hop and house will be on rotation nightly, with a strict “no-cheese” music policy, according to the owners.
Manning the bar is Austen Lendrum, who together with general manager James French has come up with an extensive cocktail list, with cordials, juices and shrubs made in-house daily. Go for the gin-based “Bamboozle” made with a hint of bamboo charcoal powder for a dark and smoky effect, or the “Sweet Tooth” which is packed with vodka, Bailey’s, chocolate bitters and egg white. During the day, you can also pop by for pastries, coffee and milkshakes.
Halcyon, G/F, 60 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3162 3710, halcyon.asia
Tequila bars are few and far-between in Hong Kong, and ones that specialise in mezcal even more so. Smokier and earthier than tequila, the Mexican spirit is often overshadowed by its sister spirit, which is why we’re glad spirits enthusiast Leo has found a forum for showcasing it upfront at newly opened bar Mezcalito.
Inspired by the lounge bars in Los Angeles, Mezcalito boasts a street-cool vibe, emblazoned with a Mexican calavera (human skull) as its logo, but with chic design features that keep it in line with the high-end restos in the same building — Arcane, Lai Bun Fu, and ON Dining to name a few. Settle down in the spacious venue to sample a wide range of mezcals, from the “Paloma” (HK$108) made with Mezcal del las Hormigas, elderflower, agave nectar and grapefruit; to the “Gringo” with both tequila and mezcal, mint, jalapeno and campari.
Mezcalito, 27/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2668 8444, mezcalito.com.hk
Sleek neon-lit digs and some intriguing tipples such as the Buddha Old-Fashioned complete with a floating Buddha in the glass, a ginseng martini with ginseng-infused gin, and an Asian-style Bloody Mary are just a few reasons to pop into the new IQ Bar on D’Aguilar, a casual drinking den for smart cocktails and bites in the busy LKF hub.
The food menu is worth seeking out in-and-of-itself, with elevated Asian-influenced dishes such as citrus salad with prawns and yuzu gel, marinated scallops with passion fruit, vanilla, green apple and champagne ice, and green tea-smoked salmon. A three-course lunch set (HK$198) is offered during the day, while dinner is served a la carte for easy sharing paired with a round of cocktails.
IQ Bar, 27-37 D’aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3565 6616, facebook.com/iqbar.hk
Lee Lo Mei
Recently opened Lee Lo Mei’s quirks range from its very un-PC name to its graffiti-plastered walls featuring animated scenes of old Hong Kong, and an unconventional menu with dishes such as shrimp roe noodles updated with raw sea scallops and air-dried beef. But we’re here for the drinks — and a good selection there is at that, too.
The spirits menu is long and far-ranging, with bottom-shelf to top-shelf varieties, while the wine selection crosses borders from Europe to Australia to South Africa and the United States. Cocktails feel just as alternative as the decor — opt for the “Jade Garden” (HK$118) made with cachaca, green tea pandan syrup and calamansi juice for something exotic and refreshing; or head completely into unchartered territory with the “Bloody Victoria” (HK$128), a bold twist on a Bloody Mary which features a dash of Shaoxing wine infused with kaffir lime leaves, chilli and anchovies spice salt to play up the heat factor.
Lee Lo Mei, G/F-1/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2896 7688; leelomei.hk
The Patio Bar
Neon-lit furniture might be so 1970s, but that doesn’t keep us from loving the look and feel of the new outdoor bar at Harbour Plaza Metropolis in Hung Hom. The glow from LED-lit patio furniture is reflected across the harbour in Hong Kong’s skyline, providing the perfect setting for drinking and relaxing when the warm weather hits.
Enjoy over 70 different alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, with a 30 percent discount applied during daily happy hour, from 5-8:30pm. Snacks are kept simple and straightforward, from Parmesan cheese puff sticks to Wagyu beef sliders, while signature cocktails run the gamut from light and fruity — try The Patio Bar (HK$85 happy hour price) with fresh cranberry juice, wine and lemon juice — to twists on the classics such as G&Ts and Old Fashioneds.
The Patio Bar, 7/F, Harbour Plaza Metropolis, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 3160 6888, harbour-plaza.com/metropolis