We love a bar with a good backstory – even if it is made up. So we thought we would celebrate our favourite watering holes around the city that are named after some rather extraordinary characters. From gin-swigging doctors, to eccentric bird collectors, to exotic burlesque dancers with a secret past, you couldn’t even make these guys up – or could you?
1. Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour
We’re not sure what medical school Dr Fern graduated from but we approve. Dodge the countless bags of unnecessary pills your local doc will prescribe you and let this eccentric physician cure your ailments with a healthy dose of G&T. After all, he has dedicated his life to studying botanicals and creating his own concoctions of fresh local herbs, paired with gins from around the world, that he has handpicked for his patients. And if you find yourself overwhelmed with the 20-page drinks menu, then his trusty team of physicians (you’ll spot them in white lab coats) are only too happy to assist. As soon as you enter the Waiting Room in this delightfully quirky basement bar in the Landmark, you know you’re in for a real treat.
Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour, Shop B31A, First Basement Floor, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Hong Kong is home to many dedicated bird owners, but no-one is perhaps more obsessed than Mr. Wong, the eccentric (and fictitious) owner of the exotic bird shop that marks the entrance of Ophelia (named after his favourite peacock). Opulent, lush, and totally over-the-top, this Ashley Sutton gem certainly sparks the imagination, and you might feel like you’re hallucinating when you pull back the thick, velvet curtain to discover an exotic, green-hued wonderland where feather-clad muses lay suspended above the bar. Inspired by the opium dens of the 19th century, this lavish venue is a definite must-see if you appreciate theatrics – and well, peacocks. Don’t miss your chance to sit in the giant birdcage and pose for pictures too.
Ophelia, Shop 41A, 1/F The Avenue, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
3. Mrs. Pound
Rumour has it that Mrs. Pound was a saucy minx back in her day. The “charismatic” and “exotic” burlesque dancer travelled the world on the arms of different suitors before disappearing from the public eye in the height of her fame in the 1950s. As (bar) legend goes, she ran away with her wealthy lover, Mr. Ming, who gave her his favourite stamp shop to hide her from his highly conservative family and keep her location a secret. Push down on the correct ‘chop’ at the entrance of the shop, and a magic door will slide open to reveal a fuchsia-coloured treasure trove full of trinkets belonging to the mysterious muse. Cabinets packed with oversized jewels, feathered masks, and all kinds of weird and wonderful knick-knacks await those who enter – along with a cocktail menu that is as feisty as the owner. Spicy Pound’s Mary with tom yum infused vodka, anyone?
Mrs. Pound, 6 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan
Poor old Frank Minza, he always was unlucky in love. This globe-trotting English gentleman never did manage to capture the heart of his beloved, despite creating a bar named after her favourite flower – the poisonous Foxglove – which should have given it away really! Concealed behind the facade of an umbrella boutique on Duddell Street, this cinematic venue is a sight for sore eyes, boasting a glamorous interior inspired by a 1950s first-class luxury liner. Decked out with plush upholstery, a low ceiling, and cabin portholes in the washrooms, the spacious venue will transport you back to the golden age of cocktails and jazz, with live music playing several nights a week, and insanely strong gin martinis up for grabs. Take a sneaky peek at the VIP room while you’re there, which is designed to look like a vintage first-class train carriage.
Foxglove, G/F, 18 Ice House Street, 6 Duddell Street, Central
5. Frank’s Library
We can’t mention Foxglove without giving Frank’s Library a little shoutout – the cocktail den that is hidden in the back of the venue. Concealed behind a red, velvet curtain and fake elevator control panel, this not-so-secret alcove is filled with novels, trinkets, and cocktails inspired by the globe-trotting adventures of Frank Minza. Seating only 20 people, this intimate hideaway boasts a collection of six ‘Travel Diary Cocktails’, each made using the freshest ingredients and premium spirits. With whimsical names like the Mad Tea-Party and the Iryūjon (“Illusion” in Japanese), which comes served in a delicate bird-shaped glass with an edible flower garnish, you know you’re in for a treat.
Frank’s Library, Foxglove, 18 Ice House Street, 6 Duddell Street, Central
6. Missy Ho’s
We don’t know who Missy Ho is, but we sure do like her style. A cheeky nod to Hong Kong’s cultural past, this unmarked Kennedy Town gem is filled with references to the city’s traditions, such as birdcages, historical photographs, and an impressive collection of playful trinkets. There’s also a costume dress-up closet for you to create the ultimate selfie, as well as two hidden swings that can be enjoyed if you ask the bar staff nicely. Make sure you check out the Missy Ho’s Fizz cocktail (a twist of whiskey sour with a dash of Absinthe and fizz of soda) as well as the ‘funky fusion cuisine’, which includes things like Spicy Salmon Rolls, Teriyaki, and a delicious Pecan Caramel Chocolate Pudding. Yum!
Missy Ho’s, G/F, Sincere Western House, 48 Forbes Street, Kennedy Town
7. J. Boroski
Not based on a fictional character as such, but rather the bar designer’s childhood fascination with creepy crawlies, J. Boroski is home to clusters of preserved scarab beetles and hairy spiders which adorn its train carriage interior. Definitely not a place for those with arachnophobia, but rather a sense of adventure, this secluded Ashely Sutton hideaway isn’t the easiest to find and lies beyond an unmarked door in a dark alleyway off Hollywood Road. But once inside, you’ll get to experience a whole new level of service as the bartenders offer to create custom-crafted cocktails if you tell them your spirit and flavour preferences. This unique ‘Cocktail Concierge Service’, created by Joseph Boroski himself, is one that you are unlikely to find anywhere else in Hong Kong, so while there are five seasonal cocktails to choose from on the menu, we definitely recommend giving it a whirl – we promise you’ll feel really special!
J. Boroski, 1 Hollywood Road, Central