Fans of a strong classic cocktail are in luck this month, as we spotlight three new menus and openings that are sure to please any who enjoy an old-fashioned tipple. Check out our picks for top new cocktails, happy hours and exclusive award-winning beverages to sip on in Hong Kong this July.
The eyeroll-inducing moniker aside (DarkSide refers to the ‘cheeky’ name that non-locals call Kowloon), the Rosewood Hong Kong’s dramatic jazz drinking den may well be TST’s best new watering hole, with a drinks programme paying homage to dark spirits (try the house barrelled cognac and port by the glass). Live smooth jazz each night is best paired with strong classic cocktails such as negronis, vieux carres, martinis and variations of such — served with chunks of dark chocolates that your server chisels individually off of massive blocks made in-house. Try the Martini Vs Vesper (HK$120), a fantastic twist on the vodka- or gin-based martini kissed with peach bitters and served with a Japanese plum. And just to marinate in the whole ‘Kowloon-ness’ of the affair, you’ll want to taste the 40 Square Feet (HK$125): a Hong Kong twist to the negroni, it’s a nod to the domiciles within the infamous Kowloon Walled City, topped with juicy plum and a spritz of ambergris — literally a dose of funky olfactive warmth.
DarkSide, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
With the new appointment of the Four Seasons Hong Kong’s new beverage ambassador Lorenzo Antinori — previously instrumental in helping to push Four Seasons Seoul’s venerable Charles H. into Asia’s Best 50 Bars — you’ll also find a new seasonal bar menu at Caprice. Still home to a wicked cheese platter (hello 48-month aged comté!), a sophisticated wine list and potent classic cocktails, the new menu ties the mixology closer to the culinary finesse of Caprice Executive Chef Guillaume Galliot. Now, it’s a journey through the geography and traditions around France: from the dry and puckery Vin Jaune of the Jura mountains with the Jura Martini — paired with Jura native San Marcellan cheese to boot — to the fantastic Fig Leaf Gimlet, drawing on the delicate flavours reminiscent of a tropical holiday derived from the fig leaves of Provence. Antinori also pays homage to the centenary celebration of the negroni with the 100 Years Negroni, featuring a funky black truffle-infused Tanqueray Ten and shaved truffles on top.
Caprice, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3196 8860
The ThirtySix Bar & Co.
Soho whisky haven The ThirtySix Bar & Co debuted on the scene with its intricately made highballs and comprehensive liquor collection. Now, the bar has launched a brand new bar bites menu featuring sharing plates and charcoal-grilled skewers to go with your dram. Snacks range from a hearty Spanish pork belly kimchi roll (HK$48) to a health-forward grilled fruit and vegetable platter (HK$108), to the innovative Old Fashioned burger (HK$138) inspired by the iconic cocktail, featuring bitter-infused orange and cherry jam with sesame. Wash it down with The ThirtySix’s two-for-one happy hour deal every day from 5–8pm, with drinks starting from HK$60.
The ThirtySix Bar & Co., 2/F, 23 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2336 4498
Twisted Tiki Pool Party
When: 20 July, 10 August, 7 September
Price: HK$400–888 from FunNow, HK$500-988 at the door.
The W’s annual Pool Party series returns. Launching just at the end of June, this year’s summer extravaganza brings on four nights of dancing under the stars at the tallest outdoor pool deck in Hong Kong — with free flow bubbly, cocktails, floaties and heart-thumping DJ beats galore. A Single Shot ticket package gets entry to the pool from 8pm onwards, plus a complimentary standard drink at the pool deck; A ‘WIP’ ticket gets entry and free-flow Moët and standard drinks until midnight. All in-house guests staying overnight can also get free entry to the party — so why not pack your swimmers and make it a staycation?
Wet Pool, 76/F, W Hong Kong, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tucked away in Prince’s Building, Kakure is Epicurean Group’s latest concept is a Ginza-style watering hole bringing refined Japanese eats and an extensive whisky selection for Central’s suited salarymen. While the restaurant serves up lunch to dinner as well as a dedicated teppanyaki station and an omakase sushi counter, the bar offers a lengthy collection of old and rare drams, dedicated sections to Japanese and Scottish distilleries as well as time honoured cocktails. Some original cocktails include the Smoked Sesame Oil Negroni — featuring sesame oil-washed gin, vermouth infused with dates, yuzu bitters and topped off with cherry blossom smoke.
Kakure, Shop M20–24, M/F, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 9990
Sensu by Gosango
Part of a recently opened monolithic ode to Japanese wagyu in Causeway Bay, Sensu by Gosango shares an expansive space with its sister properties, a refined hot pot restaurant J Pot by Gosango and yakiniku grill house Wagyu Vanne by Gosango. Sensu on the other hand focuses on casual bites, with offerings including an afternoon tea set and evening snack combo that focus on Hiyama Kuroge Wagyu. Here you’ll also find an extensive drinks list of boutique sakes, particularly bottles from Matsumoto, a 230-year-old brewery. Try these on their own or in one of a range of enticing sake cocktails. Titled with Japanese characters, the signature cocktails include ‘松’ or matsu, which blends Matsumoto sake with the delicately sweet blue flower syrup, kyoho grape and mint, topped with a touch of gold. There’s also ‘本’ or hon, which plays on the prevailing cheese foam tea trend, featuring sake, gin, oolong tea, creamy cheese foam and a hint of salt and shaved truffle. Customers get a complimentary mini Hiyama A5 wagyu burger with any drink between 5:30–7:30pm daily.
Sensu by Gosango, 1/F, Tower 535, 535 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2885 0533
Diageo Reserve World Class
When: 7 July (with judge panel guest shifts on 5–6 July)
Since 2009, the world’s top mixologists have convened at the Diageo Reserve World Class cocktail competition for a chance to be crowned the best bartender in the world. As the contestants gear up towards the finals in Glasgow, this is a unique chance for cocktail lovers to support Hong Kong’s finest by sampling the best drinks from the top ten finalists, as well as the rare chance to cast their own vote for the best cocktail. A one of a kind pavilion will be erected at Hysan Place to host the public event, featuring Adam Schmidt from Mandarin Oriental; Amir Javaid from John Anthony; Hei Chan from Quinary; Hnin Pwint Aye from Sofitel Macau; Jack Leung from Hato; Marko Petrovic from Peninsula; Nikita Matveev from Kerry Hotel; Robin Leung from COA; Shelley Tai from Quinary and Summer Lo from Four Seasons. The event starts at noon and wraps up at 9pm.
The judging panel consists of four alumni of Asia’s World Class: Antonio Lai from Hong Kong’s Quinary, Hidetsugu Ueno from Tokyo’s Bar High Five, Nick Wu from Taipei’s Bar Mood, and Joe Du Ui Hong from Seoul’s Vida Rica Bar. The latter three will also hold respective individual guest shifts at Morpheus Macau, St. Regis Bar Hong Kong, and Zuma on 5 July; and Felix at The Peninsula Hong Kong, Caprice Bar, and Quinary on 6 July.
1/F, Atrium, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Looking to the plethora of Hong Kong street eats for inspiration, VEA Lounge’s resident mixologist Antonio Lai and assistant bar manager Derek Tsui have dreamt up a summer cocktail menu — named ‘From Streets to Feast’ — that looks good enough to eat and drink at the same time. Brimming with punchy citrus flavours, the Kumquat (HK$120) combines various forms of the Asian citrus: a gin-based cocktail topped off with kumquat lemon and also served with a kumquat ice lolly. The Mango Pomelo (HK$140) is a reiteration of the classic street dessert, mango sago cream with pomelo. Clarified mango, pineapple and star anise and Bacardi Carta Blanca are whipped up together with coconut cream caviar to mimic the textural burst of pomelo, served with frozen grapefruit pulp. There are also cocktails playing with tea infusions, a take on the cha chaan teng classic yuan yang, a Dragon Boat Festival zongzi in cocktail form, a drinkable Hong Kong-style French toast, a Hong Kong-style martini flight and many more creative concoctions.
VEA Lounge, 29/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2711 0063
Devoted to gin concoctions, Origin makes a splash for the summer with a brand new makeover to an array of gin-based crowd pleasers — as is expected of resident mixologist Antonio Lai, they’re incredibly ‘grammable to boot. Try the Guava Tea Sour (HK$128), which gets a dose of tannin-led complexity using a breakfast tea cordial to balance out the freshness of guava. The Herbal Remedy (HK$128) is a light gin and ginger beer thirst quencher, incorporating the chrysanthemum — an important ‘cooling’ ingredient in Chinese herbal home remedies that makes it perfect for Hong Kong’s scorching summers.
Origin, G/F, 48 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2668 5583
Rest Coffee Gin Bar
Hipster coffee shop by day, gin bar by night, Rest is Hong Kong’s latest watering hole with scenic harbourfront views, located just at the corner of burgeoning West Kowloon Art Park. Rest specialises in an esoteric gin collection and expert cocktails, shaken up by Bar De Luxe and Bar Butler alum Wallace Lau. Whether for a latte on the lawn or a G&T in hand (paired with a decadent wagyu sando to boot) — this is just the first in a slew of F&B hotspots set to open at this rare slice of greenery in the city.
Rest, Unit 4, F/G, West Kowloon Art Park, West Kowloon, Hong Kong