Best known as a city for the best shopping and dining, we dug through into the streets of Hong Kong to score you the top five cocktail bars so you can hit the ground running.
ABERDEEN STREET SOCIAL
Like its name suggests, Aberdeen Street Social is the place to see and be seen, coupled with a cool tipple in hand, and perhaps Neil in the other? We kid—but we know you’ll want to. The eye candy we speak of is the man behind these cool concoctions; Neil Rivington, head bartender of Aberdeen Street Social, with a cheeky personality to boot.
Let him tingle your palates with Bloody English (HK$120), a twist on the classic Bloody Mary that we prefer. Sipsmith gin takes the place of vodka with a dash of ‘full English’ spice mix that adds character, while the original Bristol cream sherry gels individual flavors into a creamy, velvety texture with fresh and tangy aromas of dried fruit.
While you’re at it, (decide to) call in sick and let him give you just What The Doctor Ordered (HK$140)—a light, lemony and milky concoction filled with woody, herbaceous notes of botanicals that end in a mildly dry, honeyed bitterness of ginger. Sending us into a cocktail frenzy is Down Mexico Way (HK$140), leading you down the path where you might never see the light at the end of the tunnel.
One sip coats the mouth with a bitter smokiness of roasted wood, layered with deep citrus flavors of blood orange and lemon juice, laced with gentle touches of Auchentoshan whiskey. It’s all too good to stop at one—you understand now why the light is dim at the end of the tunnel.
PMQ, Ground Fl, JPC, 35 Aberdeen Street,
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2866 0300
Mon to Sun: 11:30am to 11pm
Nearest MTR: Sheung Wan
Step into this exclusive 20-seater Japanese-style bar and be welcomed in like a king. A gentleman, smartly dressed in a vest and tie will bow and offer to take your coat, one will pull up a chair, while another (behind the bar) greets you with genuine warmth. Welcome to Butler Bar.
The star of the show is owner-bartender Masayuki Uchida, head barkeep behind the extensive list of divine Japanese cocktails who earned his stripes at cocktail bars Bar Tokyo and Little Smith at the Ginza in Tokyo. Bartending for 15 years, it’s no wonder Uchida is known in the industry as the Japanese cocktail master.
Here, he transforms a classic gin martini (HK$128) by stirring Japanese dover perilla liqueur into chilled Tanqueray gin, resulting in unique notes of bittersweet herbs. Executed with finesse is the smooth drinking (yet complexly layered) High West double rye whiskey sour (HK$118), garnished simply with a Cointreau griottunis cherry and lemon that highlights its full, uncompromised flavour.
Showcasing his true mastery is the old fashioned (HK$128), concocted with incredible precision and skill—three different bitters and house-made liqueur with Buffalo Trace bourbon (The Fifty Best Bourbon Whiskeys 2015), thoughtfully garnished with a slice of orange, lime, lemon and Cointreau cherries that allows you to tamper with the flavour profile to your personal preference. Such is the Japanese touch.
5/F, Mody House, 30 Mody Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2724 3828
Mon to Fri: 6:30pm to 2am
Sat: 6:30pm to 1am
Nearest MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui/East Tsim Sha Tsui
HAM & SHERRY
The name itself says it all; house-cured meats and sherry is the name of the game. Be spoilt for choice with their bounty of sherry from finos to rossos, and tasting flights to cocktails that we daresay will satisfy any palate. Sherry novices, try your hand at their tasting flights (HK$295) for a sampling portion of your preference of four sherries, with four categories to choose from; manzanilla, amontillado, palo cortado, and pedro ximénez & palomino.
Incredibly sexy is the don Jose Maria very old amontillado, jose de soto (HK$92) whose smoky aroma extends to surround the palate, taking one on an exquisite journey that heightens the senses, finished with a subtle honeyed sweetness that lingers on the tip of one’s tongue. More complex is the apostles, Gonzalez byass (HK$158) that tastes exactly like its aroma of sweet cherry wood and aged oak, with a smooth finish. Pair this with a jamon board (HK$264) of house-cured meats.
Also recommended are the sherry cocktails concocted by head bartender, Ryan Nightingale. In No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition (HK$110), a manzanilla (Pasada Pastrana) sherry holds fort with Grand Marnier, sweetened by raspberry syrup, and citrus notes of lemon and orange. The result is a subtly sweet, light and refreshing tipple reminiscent of an autumn breeze.
Tease the palate with Stormy Skye (HK$110)—Talisker whiskey and Tio Mateo fino sherry come together with salted pineapple cordial for an incredibly unique sweet-salty cocktail with a bittersweet finish. Tip: don’t limit yourself to one.
1-7 Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2555 0628
Mon to Sat: 12pm to 3pm; 6pm to 12am
Nearest MTR: Wanchai
Asian-inspired cocktails reign in this cosy bar cobbled along Staunton Street. Don’t be fooled by its nondescript manner, these bartenders will soon show you a thing or two. Here, bar consultant Alex Ng runs the show, adjusting the cocktails every few weeks to suit the season.
Step out of the cold and be warmed up with an oriented mulled wine (HK$108) where rum is spiced with a mix of Chinese herbs, cinnamon, star anise and cloves. Inspiration is stemmed from the Chinese vinegar pork knuckle dish (believed to improve blood circulation), this cocktail uses a house-made sweetened Chinese ginger vinaigrette steeped together in red wine for two to three hours to obtain a robust sweetness of red date and spice.
Turning the famous Hong Kong drink of 30% coffee and 70% tea into a tipple is yuan yang (HK$120), made with Jose Cuervo reposado, espresso, evaporated milk, house-made dai pai dong tea syrup and pale ale to form a smooth and well-balanced cocktail, garnished with coffee beans and tea leaves.
If you’re hankering for something sweet, easy-drinking Oriented Ramos (HK$120) is a twist on popular 1970-80s local beverage Ramey’s gin fizz previously commonly found at cha chaan tengs. This “modernised” version combines yuzu and lime with milk to birth a sweet and dry, almost yogurty finish. If such concoctions are what this lab offers, we sure wouldn’t mind being a lab rat.
Shop B, G/F 48-50 Staunton Street,
852 Central District, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2858 8580
Mon to Thu: 5pm to 1am
Fri to Sat: 5pm to 2am
Sun: 4pm to 12am
Nearest Station: Sheung Wan
Tucked away in the basement along Hollywood Road lies a magical forest—no, we’re not talking about mushrooms. We’re talking exquisite cocktails that evoke the senses, paired with edible works of art that evolve around a ‘woods’ theme. Highly recommended is the four-course pairing menu (HK$788) that starts with an amuse bouche of St. George Terrior Gin, lemon juice and simple syrup, topped up with sparkling wine and served in a test tube with a rosemary sprig; setting the stage for visually stunning alcoholic libations.
We’re especially impressed with Grass—a Holland vodka distilled with spiced grass, muddled with cucumber and tarragon before being mixed into fresh apple and lemon juice, served with balls of ice infused with coriander and cilantro to enhance its flavor of fresh herbs and botanicals. Equally impressive is its pairing dish of French Bayonne ham with Australian jumbo asparagus, Spanish olive oil caviar, and micro greens drizzled with a port wine and balsamico reduction.
Speak to head barman, Freddrick Ma, and it’s evident the passion and care that goes into his creations. In Earth, an oyster mushroom is infused in Makers bourbon, combined with dry vermouth, artichoke liqueur and black walnut bitters to exude oaky and uniquely bittersweet notes.
Taking it up a notch is its garnish of dehydrated mushrooms and enoki on a thin crisp of house-made biscuit, micro greens dancing along the biscuit plateau; drawing the earthiness out of the cocktail. Charcoal breadcrumbs, dried dark olives and fennel pollen fall lightly around the pairing dish of herb butter escargots and mash that further accentuates its earthiness. Let the night take you deeper into this magical “forest”. Getting lost in the woods might not be such a bad idea after all.
17 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2522 0281
Mon to Sat: 6pm to 2am
Nearest Station: Central
About the writer
Mandy Lynn is a former I-S Magazine writer and current columnist at Nookmag; her dining and nightlife features are published in Men’s Folio, Singapore Tatler Dining and The Drinks Business, amongst others. For bite-sized food recommendations, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or join her Gourmet Adventures to keep up with the latest dining and nightlife news.