Header images courtesy of @originbarhk (via Instagram) and Quinary (via Facebook)
After weeks of waiting, the time has finally come! Hong Kong bars and pubs will finally start to reopen in accordance with the latest social distancing regulations. Over the last couple of years, Hong Kong has garnered a wide reputation for crafting delicious, creative, and outstanding cocktails. With both local and foreign mixologists raising their cocktail games to the next level, endlessly pushing the boundaries of the local bar scene, Hong Kong has quickly become an urban playground that bartenders often draw inspiration from. Celebrate our city’s exquisite culture by indulging in some of the best Hong Kong-inspired cocktails.
Origin is a sophisticated bar located in Lan Kwai Fong, where homegrown mixologist Antonio Lai showcases some of the most original cocktails you’ll ever see. Bringing his 15 years of experience to the table, Origin specialises in serving custom gins, which include exotic flavours based on infused herbs and ingredients, such as basil, lemongrass, raspberry, and much more.
One beverage that boldly reflects the creative force behind Origin is the WTF ($130), which stands for “What, Tofu?” This Hong Kong-inspired cocktail takes influence from one of Hong Kong’s most popular desserts: the tofu pudding. Made from tofu-redistilled Tanqueray gin, tofu milkshake, Jax Coco water, Domaine de Canton, and simple syrup, this odd concoction is definitely one to try, as this unusual, custardy drink will blow your taste buds away.
Origin, G/F, 48 Wyndham Street, Central | (+852) 2668 5583
Venture out to Prince Edward to discover Bound by Hillywood, a café by day that serves up decadent breakfast and coffee, and a neighbourhood hangout spot and bar by night. This vibrant establishment serves up refreshing local and foreign craft beers, classic cocktails, and other vernacular beverages that can be only be found in Hong Kong.
What sets Bound apart is their unique and memorable selection of traditional Cantonese rice shots, mixed up with unusual ingredients to create a range of Hong Kong-inspired cocktails. New Romance ($88) is highly recommended, which comes with Yuk Bing Siu rice liquor, a dash of Yakult, and finished off with a dash of housemade strawberry jam. Another to consider is the Chill Yuk ($85), with Yuk Bing Siu rice liquor, cucumber, lemon, and mint.
Bound by Hillywood, 32 Boundary Street, Prince Edward | (+852) 2396 6488
If the late and great Anthony Bourdain loved it, it’s good enough for us. Under the guidance of Asia’s best female chef, May Chow, Happy Paradise has become a well-recognised establishment at the forefront of experimenting with contemporary Cantonese food, making it one of the most exciting places to go. In its neon-soaked atmosphere that recalls nostalgic Hong Kong streets of yore, tuck into delicious neo-Cantonese food and deliciously thoughtful cocktails. Our favourite Hong Kong-inspired cocktail on their menu is the Hong Kong lemon tea ($98), which will no doubt remind Hongkongers of their very own iced lemon tea—or VLT, as the locals call it. The cocktail is made from Bison vodka, black tea, lemon, and some sweet soy sauce.
Happy Paradise, 52–56 Staunton Street, Central | (+852) 2816 2118
As one of Hong Kong’s most forward-thinking bars, Quinary is another Antonio Lai project that has gained worldwide recognition. Awarded with a spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars, Quinary consistently pushes the boundaries of what you think a cocktail should be. While their most well-known drink is the Earl Grey caviar martini ($140)—composed of Cointreau, Ketel One Citroen vodka, elderflower syrup, and briny Earl Grey tea caviar—it’s their Hong Kong-inspired cocktails that win our hearts.
The Siu Aap ($140) pays tribute to Hong Kong’s delicious succulent roast goose and is made with a Bacardi 8 rum infused with duck fat, lemon juice, housemade plum sauce, rich honey syrup, vegetarian crispy “roast goose”, and salted plum. Similarly, the Foh Maa Yan ($150) is inspired by Chinese herbal drinks and comes in the form of a medley of Michter’s rye whiskey infused with torched coffee beans, hemp seed syrup, grated tonka beans, cream, and Thai tea foam.
Quinary, 56–58 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2851 3223
If you’re interested to learn and taste more of what makes Hong Kong flavours so unique, head to 65 Peel. It is the perfect after-work hangout for delicious local craft beer and cocktails. Apart from the seemingly infinite selection of brews, 65 Peel also offers a select menu of Hong Kong-inspired cocktails that brings out the best of their neon-lit, slopeside neighbourhood bar. We think that one of their most interesting and exciting cocktails is the red bean soup ($118), inspired by the sweet Cantonese dessert that every Hongkonger loves. The drink is made with rum, Maraschino liqueur, and azuki red beans from Tokachi.
65 Peel, 65–65A Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2342 2224
Within the walls of Tai Kwun lies The Dispensary, a chic and stylish bar that harkens back to the colonial days of Hong Kong. Repurposed from what used to be a bar for officers in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force when Tai Kwun used to be a colonial prison, The Dispensary offers a wide array of British colonial- and Chinese-inspired flavours. One unconventional Hong Kong-inspired cocktail that they offer is the Dan Tat ($98), a liquid imitation of the iconic Hong Kong egg tart. It features a pineapple rum base which is shaken and combined with a milk-infused egg tart, cream soda cordial, and hints of lemon and nutmeg.
The Dispensary, Block 01, Tai Kwun, Police Headquarters, 10 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2848 3000
Venture into the elegant Rosewood for DarkSide, a lively and sophisticated bar that puts emphasis on rare aged spirits. As the brainchild of Arcadius Rybak, the director of bars at Rosewood, DarkSide invites you to lean back and enjoy their timeless selection of premium spirits and liqueurs, spanning from single-harvest tawny ports from 1969, Grande Champagne cognac aged in oak, and a flourishing assortment of rum, whisky, and Calvados. Their drinks list is a homage to the bar’s namesake, the “dark side” of Kowloon, and you can find plenty of Hong Kong-inspired cocktails, such as 40 Square Feet ($125), a rum-based cocktail mixed with bitter Campari, Mancino Rosso Amaranto Vermouth, plum, bitter chocolate, and ambergris. Spend the night tasting and savouring deliciously mixed cocktails while listening to some live jazz.
DarkSide, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 3891 8888
Situated along the infamous Peel Street, Mamma Always Said is a chilled-out neighbourhood bar that serves globally-inspired comfort dishes. Beyond the incredible food, one tipple that hits the spot every time is their Mammaste chai ($75), a vodka-based cocktail with milk tea, condensed milk, and spices. Although this imaginative drink is inspired by the fragrant Indian tea beverage, your taste buds will no doubt be reminded of Hong Kong’s own creamy and rich silk-stocking milk tea.
Mamma Always Said, 42 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2386 2216