What better way to say arrivederci to June than with Negroni Week? The international charity event, organised annually by Imbibe and Campari, returns to Hong Kong next week — just in time for the 100th anniversary of its hallowed Florentine namesake. From 24-30 June, bars and restaurants throughout Hong Kong will be showcasing inventive (often limited-time) takes on the negroni, donating a portion of all sales to their charity of choice. Negroni Week 2019 follows a bumper year: last June, over 10,000 venues worked collectively to raise around US$2 million for various charitable causes.
From the “Holy Trinity” (i.e. gin, vermouth, and Campari) to recipes loaded with more than half a dozen esoteric ingredients, here are the best bars in Hong Kong if you’re thinking of indulging in a bit of alcoholic activism for Negroni Week 2019.
This June, everybody’s favourite Black Sheep izakaya is opting for a subtle riff on the classic three-part negroni recipe. Fukuro’s Ume Negroni pays tribute to the humble Japanese plum — a culturally important foodstuff that heralds the coming of spring. Rather than opting to introduce plum wine directly into the recipe, gin is infused with ume before being stirred with relatively classic accompaniments such as Campari and sweet vermouth.
Nominated charity: Impact HK
Fukuro, 1-5 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2333 8841
Mixologists know the almost tannic bittersweetness of your average negroni makes it a natural foil for coffee. Trust Mandarin Oriental mixologist Slamet Haryadi then to bring this formulation back, in a big way, for Negroni Week 2019. Inspired by the twinned facets of M bar — espresso by day, cocktails by night — the Coffee Negroni is a balancing act of cold brew, Bulldog gin, Cinzano Rosso and hazelnut-infused Campari. Throughout the week, HK$5 of each Coffee Negroni sold will go towards Water for People — a global non-profit committed to bringing safe drinking water and sanitation resources to four million people across nine countries.
Nominated charity: Water for People
M Bar, 25/F, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 0111
Dark Side — Rosewood Hong Kong’s sultry new drinking den — marks their Negroni Week debut with “40 Square Feet” — a tribute to the history of Kowloon. Named for the (frankly shocking) amount of living space inhabited by residents of the infamous Kowloon Walled City, this negroni makes liberal use of dark chocolate and ambergris, ratcheting up the aromatic potency of an otherwise classically-flavoured beverage.
Nominated charity: WILD Foundation
Dark Side, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3891 8732
For Negroni Week 2019, Shady Acres — Mike Watt & Ryan Nightingale’s riotous new Aussie wine bar — is kicking things off with their “Red Right Hand”. Equal parts liquid dessert and pop culture reference, it’s precisely the kind of dark smooth libation you’d expect to find Nick Cave sipping. Like the Milk & Honey stalwart upon which it’s based, this twist on the negroni substitutes gin for dark rum and is finished with the addition of chocolate bitters and Cocchi vermouth.
Nominated charity: Feeding Hong Kong
The Shady Acres, 46 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong
St. Regis properties around the world have always been known to make a killer Bloody Mary, but the House of Astor knows a thing or two when it comes to the rest of the classic cocktail canon. Entitled “Soul of the Negroni”, The St Regis Hong Kong’s Negroni Week entry is inspired by Florentine tradition and the greenery of Tuscany. In literal terms, Head Bartender Andrea Miranelli focuses on making one of the fanciest negronis on our list: there’s Antica Formula (widely considered to be the “King of Vermouths”); Italian botanicals; umami bitters; and even a reduction made using Chianti Classico — a style characteristic of Tuscan winemaking.
Nominated charity: Hong Chi Association
The St. Regis Bar, 1 Harbour Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong, +852 2138 6888
With its humanist programming and focus on local art & culture, there aren’t many places as keyed into the spirit of Negroni Week as Terrible Baby. The Eaton’s excellent dancehall-cum-rooftop bar is running not one but three negronis in late June. Our undisputed favourite is the “Let me try this one”: a summery libation which takes the process of fruit infusion to a whole new level. Grape and cucumber flavoured Gin Mare is paired with Campari and grapefruit-infused Cocchi vermouth and, for a bit of additional high drama, finished with Ancho Reyes — the authentic Poblano liqueur made with green Mexican chillis.
Nominated charity: Water for People
Terrible Baby, 4/F, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2710 1866
Bringing new meaning to the word “bittersweet”, The Wise King’s hot take for Negroni Week 2019 is the #BlissNegroni. A deceptively clear gin base is infused with both black truffle and Nutella, before being layered with “Amari” — an in-house blend of three amaros (Campari, Cynar, Averna) which supply this beverage with its vaguely medicinal yet pleasant aftertaste. As with many of the libations to be found on The Wise King’s permanent menu, this riff on a negroni embraces a bolder, elementally sharper drinking style that’s perfect as a digestif.
Nominated charity: Muttville
The Wise King, Tsung Wing Lane, 25 Staunton Street, +852 2326 5822
Zuma Hong Kong returns to Negroni Week for its third consecutive year with a quartet of limited releases fusing Japanese ingredients with classic technique. As you’d expect, the main point of distinction revolves around spirit bases, though the Honda Negroni gets our stamp of approval for being thoroughly on-brand. Bar Manager Adam Hrapko’s cult favourite is an invigorating progression of crisp and refreshing flavours: melding shiso-infused gin; Campari; umeshu; and Mancino vermouth. The clincher? For every Honda purchased, Zuma will donate US$1 to No Kid Hungry — a non-profit dedicated to combating child hunger in the U.S.
Nominated charity: No Kid Hungry
Zuma Hong Kong, 5/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 3657 6388
The Hong Kong edition of Negroni Week 2019 will take place from 24–30 June. A closing ceremony — featuring HK$50 all-day negronis — will be held at Aaharn on 30 June. To learn more, visit the official Negroni Week website.