Hong Kong’s most popular summer pastime may well be cruising on a junk, in the refreshing turquoise bays of Sai Kung or beyond. Yet, all too often these afternoons are fuelled by uninspiring cans of cheap beer — inadvertently washed with equal parts salty seawater, no doubt. With junk season in full swing, are you too wondering what are some better spirits and beers to bring on your next early morning schlep to the piers? We consulted a few of our favourite Hong Kong bartenders and booze experts on their go-to drinks to serve and sip on deck.
Beckaly Franks: Stardust Americano
“What I have found is that the more light and refreshing the better,” says former matriarch of The Pontiac, who relocated to Bali recently to launch its sister bar, The Pontiac Stardust. “Variations of Aperol Spritz and G&T’s are always big hits, as are simple sours like margaritas and daiquiris that you can easily pre-batch (make in a large amount ahead of time). At The Pontiac Stardust, we have a drink that is absolutely perfect for boat parties: The Stardust Americano.”
– 30ml dragon bitters (made with 2 parts Campari, 1 part fresh dragon fruit puree)
– 30ml Mauritius vermouth (made with 750ml bianco vermouth infused with 10 Mauritius lime leaf for 24 hours)
– 60ml soda water
Top off pre-batched cocktail serving with soda water before serving tall, on the rocks, with a lime leaf or mint garnish.
Rohit Dugar: Young Master Ales’ Another One
One thing to remember about junk parties is that you’ll want to pace yourself. “If I just have to pick one drink, I would pick our session beer called Another One,” says Rohit Dugar, founder of Young Master Ales. “It’s easily my favourite beer for a day out on a junk. A crushable session ale that delivers a burst of juicy, fresh, tropical hop flavours while clocking in at an effortless 3.3% alcohol content — once you have one, you will always want another one. It’s available in eco-friendly aluminium cans that you can order online from the brewery’s website by the case for home delivery or pick-up from your favourite craft beer store or CitySuper.”
Ryan Nightingale: Junk Boat Punch
Like spending happy hour at his bar Shady Acres, making an appropriate and delicious junk party cocktail by Ryan Nightingale is equally fun and effortless. He says, “On your way to the central pier — if you’re somehow not hungover and cabbing it over five minutes later than the boat is supposed to disembark — you can stop at a certain overpriced and well-stocked supermarket and get some different flavoured apple or pear juices, a handful of limes and some sparkling grapefruit cans; then grab your favourite bottle of gin or vodka and make Snoop Dogg proud.”
Junk Boat Punch
– Half bottle of gin or vodka (approx. 500ml)
– 1L of apple juice (I like elderflower apple)
– 2 cans of sparkling grapefruit juice
– 4 limes, squeezed by hand by the guy who thinks he’s got the biggest muscles (he’s usually wearing the shortest swim trunks).
Add ice, stir and splash out into reusable glasses.
Victoria Chow: The Basil Daiquiri
While The Woods may have shuttered its brick and mortar premises in Central, the eclectic and memorable cocktails live on. Founder Victoria Chow passed us her recipe for her colourful Basil Daiquiri. She says, “It’s a super easy cocktail to put together for a junk party where you really want to keep things as simple as possible. No crazy infusions or complicated recipes. The cocktail is light and refreshing — easy to quaff three of!”
The Basil Daiquiri
– 45ml white rum
– 45ml cucumber juice
– 30ml lime juice
– 15ml simple syrup
– 5 basil leaves
Add the ingredients into a shaking tin, muddle the basil leaves, add ice. Shake and strain!
Robert Kariakin: Classic Daiquiri
Los Sotano head mixologist Robert Kariakin is perhaps no stranger to tequila-drenched debauchery at his LKF bar — but outside in the sun, he’d prefer to sip something classic: “My favourite cocktail in the world is a classic daiquiri, which just happens to be perfect for a junk trip… and dead easy to make,” he says. “Traditionally it’s made with Cuban white rum, but simply changing the rum will give you delicious variations (our “Mayan Riviera” at Los Sotano features a blend of two rums and a tequila).”
– 22.5ml fresh lime juice
– 22.5ml simple syrup
– 45ml good quality rum
Chill a martini glass with ice water. Build cocktail in a cocktail tin with a scoop of ice and shake for 15 seconds (less with the crappy store ice you’ve probably got onboard a junk). Strain into chilled martini glass, garnish with a lime wheel.
Rocky Rai: 21st Century California
Who wouldn’t want to quench their thirst with a revitalising highball under the scorching Hong Kong sun? Rocky Rai, head mixologist at highball temple The ThirtySix Bar & Co shares the recipe for bar favourite, the 21st Century California. He says, “Perfect for a summer junk party, the slightly sweet mezcal carries lovely hints of fruitiness. It pairs well with a soft touch of aromatic Rinomato Bianco offering notes of vanilla, berries and rhubarb and finally a piece of chocolate to add an extra layer to the highball.” While the recipe below contains exact specifications for mixing it to ThirtySix standards (in a temperature-controlled environment), you can simplify to mix all ingredients over ice and chill while on the boat.
- 21st Century California
– 50ml Alipus San Baltazar Guelavila Joven Mezcal
– 20ml Rinomato Bianco
– 10ml Crème de Cacao White
– 15ml Lemon lime oleo cordial
– Soda for top up (recommended amount is 45–50ml)
- Add a large chunk of ice into a chilled highball glass and fan the glass until it matches room temperature (or until condensation clears on the glass). Add mezcal, pouring it over the ice so the spirit gets chilled. Add Rinomato Bianco, Crème de Cacao White and Lemon lime oleo cordial. Stir 13 times clockwise. Top up with soda (avoid touching the ice — pour down the side of the glass.) Stir 3 times anticlockwise. Pair this highball with a piece of chocolate for extra texture.
Note for beginners: A 22.5ml measure is the same as the smaller cup of a bartender’s jigger, and 45ml is equivalent of a measure of the larger cup. 1 fl. oz. is roughly 30ml, and can be measured by a “pony” or short shot glass. Remember to drink responsibly!