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Hidden bars: The coolest speakeasies in Hong Kong

Have you found them all?

Between 1920 and early 1930s, the sale of alcoholic beverages was constitutionally banned in America, and owners had to evade the law by hiding their liquor to avoid violating the Volstead Act during the prohibition era. Those visiting a concealed bar where instructed to “speak easy” to avoid detection, a turn of phrase that has since established the modern, intentionally hidden haunts that are now known as “speakeasies.” A century later, hidden bars are a quintessential part of modern bar culture.

With its vibrant bar scene, it comes as no surprise that Hong Kong holds a little mystery in its nightlife, too. Whether its hidden underground, requires secret passwords, or a bar within a bar, there are plenty of magical under-the-radar must-visits across the city. Here are our favourite speakeasies in Hong Kong…

Hidden bars and speakeasies in Hong Kong:

Room 309

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Situated in the heart of Central, boutique hotel The Pottinger created an out-of-the-ordinary hotel room — a secret bar. Ask reception for a key to Room 309 to visit the fashionably discreet location. In an intimate setting with room for only twenty people, the menu features an array of ‘invisible cocktails’ without any colour, and ‘R309 Golden Key Classics’, traditional favourites all named for hotel suites.

Room 309, 3/F, The Pottinger Hong Kong, 74 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong (Main entrance on 21 Stanley Street)

The Diplomat

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Hidden in plain sight down the stairs and around the back of Pottinger Street’s H Code, The Diplomat provides a collection of reimagined cocktails such as the Chocolate Vieux Carré. Tucked away within the centre of the bar is an invitation-only pink speakeasy, ‘The Diplomat Social Club’. This members-only club offers an exclusive drinks menu and a more intimate interior, featuring an eclectic collection of vinyl records to be played on request.

The Diplomat, Shop 1, LG/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong

Mizunara: The Library

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Mizunara translates in Japanese to “a library for whiskey”, which the bar is notable for. This bar transports you to Japan with its Japanese Oak furniture, peaceful garden and award-winning crafted whiskey cocktails from Masahiko Endo. The whiskey collection comes from all corners of the world, including Ireland, India and Taiwan.

Mizunara, 4/F, Kiu Yin Building, 361–363 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

001

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Easily missed by many thanks to its concealed entrance, its signature doorbell is the only clue that you’ve arrived to this hidden bar. Located behind fruit and vegetable stalls on Wellington Street, 001 carries classic cocktails, whiskies and its newly added Bright ‘N’ Sunny — inspired by Hong Kong’s scorching hot weather.

001, Shop 1, L/F, Welley Building, 97 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong

Whisky & Words

 
 
 
 
 
 
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This cosy and intimate bar is tailored for whiskey aficionados with its carefully selected 300 whiskies from around the world. Offering regular masterclasses led by its distillery owners and whiskey experts to help encourage patrons to learn and appreciate their favourite whiskies, this is the place to be if you favour this tipple.

Whisky & Words, G/F, 7-9 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong

Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Designed to resemble two doctor office doors, one promising a waiting room and the other a gin parlour, Dr Fern can cure any symptom with a healthy dose of gin. With its staff ‘physicians’ dressed in white lab coats, gin prescriptions are available for all patients and made using locally-sourced herbs and botanicals.

Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour, Shop B31A, First Basement Floor, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

Please Don’t Tell (PDT)

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Identical to the original New York speakeasy, Please Don’t Tell is located within the MO Bar of the Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Accessed through a vintage telephone booth, PDT offers a seasonal cocktail menu using fermented and distilled products from around Asia. Exclusive drinks include ‘Johnny Come Lately’, which pays homage to MO Bar’s John Ng, who helped develop the cocktail.

PDT, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

The Wilshire

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Hidden within coveted Mexican restaurant, 11 Westside, The Wilshire, named after Los Angeles’ Wilshire Boulevard, is a unique cocktail hideaway. With a pool table in its centre, this speakeasy serves up a menu of classic cocktails such as the ‘Skinny Mary’, made with Nori Infused Gordon’s Gin, Tomato Juice, Lemon Juice, Celery Syrup, Tabasco, Worcestershire Sauce and Japanese Baby Squid ink.

The Wilshire, 1/F, 11 Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

The Old Man

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Named Asia’s No.1 and No.2 Best Bar in 2019 and 2020, respectively, The Old Man offers innovative cocktails to the city’s thirsty in an intimate setting. Named for the 1952 Ernest Hemingway novel, the bar stays faithful to the theme with niche cocktails such as ‘Soldier’s Home’, made with apple marigold white rum, lemon balm sherry, pink lady apple sous-vide riesling, and lemon leaf soda.

The Old Man, LG/F, 37 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong

BUTLER Cocktail Bar

 
 
 
 
 
 
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This classic American-style speakeasy is perfect for those who want something elegant yet intimate. With bartenders dressed in Casablanca-style white dinner jackets, BUTLER’s 20-seat Japanese lodgings serve an extensive whiskey and cocktail menu. If you’re feeling something a little stronger however, head upstairs to check out the whiskey-only bar, serving over 200 kinds of whiskey.

BUTLER Cocktail Bar, 5/F, Mody House, 30 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Foxglove

 
 
 
 
 
 
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‘Disguised’ as a silver-handled umbrella shop — which it actually sells — Foxglove is a 1950s jazz club that serves cocktails centred around a fictional character known as Mr Minza. The bar cheekily nods to its speakeasy roots with its ‘Home to Prohibition’ selection, offering cocktails such as ‘The Cotton Club’.

Foxglove, G/F, 18 Ice House Street, 6 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong

Frank’s Library

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Hidden in the depths of Foxglove, Frank’s Library was inspired by Frank Minza, offering an array of ‘Travel Diary Cocktails’ from Frank’s voyages around the world. This speakeasy-within-a-speakeasy can be found behind velvet curtains — press the right elevator button and you may enter the secret library. A special drink includes the Dekasegi, a fusion between Brazilian and Japanese culture, made with Cachaca Rum, Batida de Coco, Rice Horchata, Coconut Milk, Chocolate Absinthe, Sugar and Yuzu.

Frank’s Library, Hidden inside Foxglove, 18 Ice House Street, 6 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong

The Poet

Press the light switch located on the right side of a door on Staunton Street and you will enter The Poet. Inside, the narrow bar is two-fold: one, a bar counter with a marble, gold finish and the other with tables and backlit circular mirrors. The bar is loved for its seasonal menus; most recently, The Poet collaborated with OTO, a CBD lifestyle brand, to create a CBD Mindful Menu.

The Poet, G/F, 13 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong

Stockton

Located at the heart of Wyndham Street, Stockton is hidden down an alley away from the noise of the nearby clubs. This whiskey bar is antique in nature, with its exceptional whiskeys, vintage art and artifacts from Paris. The bar insists that guests must adhere to social etiquette and always have a glass half full.

Stockton, 32 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong (Head down the alley and look for a lightbulb)

Ping Pong 129 Gintoneria

What used to be an old ping pong hall has now been transformed into a stylish Spanish gin and tonic bar. With its red neon signage, aluminium window grills and calligraphy pieces, the bar celebrates old Hong Kong with a retro flare. Try the Master’s London Drink, a popular concoction transporting you straight to Barcelona.

Ping Pong 129 Gintoneria, 29 Second Street, L/G Nam Cheong House, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong 

Barcode

Barcode balances two identities: a cafe by day and a speakeasy by night. Expect to be amazed by its signature cocktails that are inspired by and paired with desserts. We recommend the chocolate cookie espresso martini, matched with lemon tart for a mix of sweet and sour delights.

Barcode, G/F, Glenealy Tower, 1 Glenealy, Central, Hong Kong

J.Boroski

Sister to Iron Fairies, J.Boroski, named after owner Joseph Boroski himself, is nestled in a dark alleyway on Hollywood Road. With its ceiling covered in preserved beetles, the bar offers a unique ‘cocktail concierge’ service. No menus – the guests are in charge of their drinks, offering staff direction based on their alcohol preferences and personal taste.

J.Boroski, 1-13 Hollywood Road, Ezra’s Lane, Central, Hong Kong

Kyle & Bain

Inside European brasserie MARGO is Kyle & Bain, a glamorous martini-centric bar. Led by John Nugent, co-founder of The Diplomat, the hidden upstairs bar offers menu of colonial-inspired martinis. Fun fact: The name itself is a nod to William Kyle and John Bain, who patented Hong Kong’s first ice machine.

Kyle & Bain, Shop 6 G/F The Galleria, 9 Queens Road Central, (Ice House Street Entrance), Hong Kong

Featured and hero image courtesy of PDT

TANYA PARMANAND

Despite pursuing a career in Law, Tanya has always been interested in journalism seen by writing on social activism, lifestyle and culture in Hong Kong. If she’s not writing or in court, you can catch her reading the latest book on her Kindle whilst sipping her latest matcha latte find.