Header image courtesy of The Pontiac
The bar industry has been through the wringer the past year, with months upon months of Covid-required closure—but amazingly, there are still plenty of new openings, new menus, and innovative events happening. From botanical-themed bars to Okinawan gastropubs and spaceship-esque watering holes, here are the best places to drink this June.
The latest high-concept watering hole to hit Central is Apothecary, a bar that celebrates all things boozy and botanical. Helmed by a team of young and talented mixologists—Austen Lendrum from Foxglove, Lik Hang-fung of Boba Bear, and Joe Wong from J.Boroski—this ambitious apothecary-themed bar is set to be one of the most exciting openings this summer. Each and every cocktail has been lovingly rendered in illustrated form for their menu, a.k.a. “The Herbalist’s Notebook,” with enticing options including the Swallow’s Banquet (a vodka-based drink with clarified dried fig and apricot) and Newton’s Punch (a rich and silky drink made with clarified chestnut scotch, Drambuie, almond, and chocolate bitters).
Apothecary, Unit 3A, Carfield Commercial Building, 75–77 Wyndham Street, Central
Peek behind the velvet curtain at the newly opened theatre-themed bar on Elgin Street, Finding Daisy. Outfitted in sumptuous reds and bathed in warm golden light, it’s a mood-setting space that lends itself well to romantic dates as well as catch-ups with friends. (Especially if you order the Six Mules—a “remix” of the classic French 75, which is also known by its raunchier name, the “Lick It Like You Mean It” drink.) Despite their youthful looks, founders-slash-bartenders Max Bajracharya and Rai Amrit are both career mixologists, with years of experience at international hospitality groups—so feel free to throw caution to the wind when ordering your bevvies.
Finding Daisy, 16A Elgin Street, Soho, Central | (+852) 5135 7377
If you’re partial to citrus fruits—particularly Asian varieties like yuzu, pomelo, and kumquat, then the new calamansi gin from Hong Kong’s own Two Moons Distillery is a must-try. The zesty new spirit features locally sourced calamansi and just two other botanicals (juniper berries and spruce), making it a perfect starting point for summery cocktails.
Try it in classics like the gin & tonic at The Pawn from now until 2 July; our personal favourite from the limited menu is the Crescent Moon Collins ($140), featuring sencha, mint, lime, and the calamansi gin. Meanwhile, creative Soho bar Quinary has undergone a full-blown calamansi takeover, with a beautiful floral installation and special Two Moons capsule machine where guests can try their luck in a prize draw upon purchasing two calamansi cocktails.
Three calamansi cocktails are featured on the bar’s limited Two Moons menu, with each paying tribute to one of the four cardinal directions; East Ends ($130) is a calamansi gin and tonic; South Seas ($160) features flavours of yuzu and elderflower; West Wind ($160) is a sweet and woody drink fragranced with vanilla, melon, and bergamot.
The Pawn, 62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2866 3444
Quinary, 56–58 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2851 3223
With its cerulean façade and brightly lit theatre-inspired marquee, this addition to Peel Street has caught our eye—even if it’s not officially open just yet. Awa Awa, which is a collaboration between the Sake Central team and nascent creative studio Double 00, is a loving tribute to Okinawa, the tropical archipelago also known as the Hawaii of Japan (and the birthplace of karate). Like Sake Central and Saketen, Awa Awa’s namesake is a definitively Japanese liquor: awamori, a distilled liquor with over 500 years’ heritage, made from black koji and long-grain (indica) rice.
It’s still early days, but the Awa Awa team hopes to represent all of Okinawa’s 47 awamori distilleries in its collection soon. The drinks offerings are rounded out by cocktails from Double 00’s co-founder, Arlene Wong, an F&B veteran and Mr Black ambassador who cut her teeth at The Pontiac. More details to follow.
Awa Awa, 42–44 Peel Street, Soho, Central
Created by The Pontiac’s co-founder Beckaly Franks and her wife, Ezra Star, the beloved neo-dive bar’s new menu is a swansong of sorts from Franks, who has taken a step back from operations. At once both familiar and new, it features classic concoctions that have been given the signature Ponty twist—a sophisticated take on the Long Island Iced Tea (Shells and Cigarettes; $88) here, a daiquiri made with a craft beer syrup (Defender Daiquiri; $88) there.
Fans of the gingery, citrus-spiked Hobnail ($88) need not worry, as it’s still very much on the menu—but if you’re looking to try something new and different, we like the High Tide Martini ($108), made with Widges gin, dry dashi vermouth, and wormwood tincture from Sai Ying Pun’s iconoclastic izakaya, Okra. Savoury and supremely drinkable, it’s the kind of out-of-the-box drink that proves the rock-and-roll cocktail bar is still one-of-a-kind, six years on.
The Pontiac, 13 Old Bailey Street, Central | (+852) 2521 3855
There’s nothing quite like drinks on a rooftop bar during long summer days—and K11 Artus, the glamorous serviced residences in Tsim Sha Tsui, may just have one of the best rooftops around, with 270-degree panoramic views overlooking Victoria Harbour. This summer, the K11 Artus team is welcoming a rotating cast of Hong Kong’s best and brightest bartenders for “The Savour Series,” where attendees can enjoy three hours of bottomless artisanal cocktails, a series of light bites, and complimentary limousine transfer to IFC mall after it’s all done and dusted. More details on the lineup will be released soon, but the inaugural event this Saturday will see Nikita Matveev, operations director of acclaimed cocktail bar The Old Man, shake things up behind the bar.
K11 Artus, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2107 3388
Café-hoppers and Sham Shui Po locals may already be familiar with Major Tom, a futuristic white slice of a café that looks more like a spaceship than somewhere to get a single-origin hand-drip coffee. If you happen to stop by after 6 pm, though, you’ll find something rather different—a buzzing bar bathed in colour (courtesy of their colour-changing LED ceiling panels) and serving potent cocktails. Try Lover ($100)—a bourbon-based drink with blood orange, peach, lemon, and egg white—or Monster ($100) if you’re in the mood for something quirkier; the gin drink’s ingredient list reads almost like a green juice’s, with asparagus and bitter melon featuring alongside green apple and cucumber.
Major Tom, 14 Nam Cheong Street, Sham Shui Po