Header image courtesy of Penicillin
The weather might be getting dry, but we sure as heck are not—with the latest government guidelines, bars are finally able to open until—gasp!—2 am. And with all the new openings and drinks menus that are on our to-try list this month, we’re just glad to have the extra two hours to throw back a glass or two of the good stuff. Read on for the best places to drink this November.
Following their exit from The Old Man, Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale have teamed up with their partners, Laura Prabowo and Katy Ghale, to debut two new concepts—the larger and more conceptual of which is Penicillin, a “closed-loop” bar which prioritises sustainability and local heritage. The bar, which derives its name from both the medical discovery and a famous whiskey-based cocktail, takes a scientific, experimental approach towards mixology. Think foraged and fermented ingredients, interesting extraction processes, and innovative, resourceful uses of “scraps.”
The theme is carried through into the Betty Ng-designed space, which evokes vintage laboratories and apothecaries with its white tiles, scientific equipment, and raw natural materials. For a cocktail that tastes good and does good, try the One Penicillin, One Tree ($110)—for every order, one native tree gets planted in the endangered Kalimantan rainforest in Borneo.
Penicillin, L/G, 23 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 9880 7995
Tucked away in a little back street behind Hollywood Road is Hong Kong’s premier homage to yeehaw culture itself, Honky Tonk’s Tavern. (We’re joking, but also… not really?) This much-anticipated second opening from The Shady Acres’ team has only been in the soft opening phase for a few weeks, but it’s already drawn in plenty of customers with its ever-so-drinkable cocktails, raucous-yet-welcoming atmosphere, and finger-licking Southern food.
The Shady Acres’ cheeky and irreverent humour is dialled up to 11 here, with menu items like White Trash (a chicken, bacon, and jalapeno pizza topped with cool ranch Dorito dust; $110) and Don’t Drink the Water (a cocktail of tequila, mezcal, elderflower, lime, and mandarin-vinegar syrup; $95). There’s also an entire menu of fried chicken, which includes tenders ($85), wings ($75), and a Honky McChicken burger ($100)—and just for added temptation, Honky Tonk’s Tavern will donate $10 to local charities for children and young adults with disabilities for every order of chicken or pizza.
Honky Tonk’s Tavern, 75 Hollywood Road, Central (entrance on Man Hing Lane)
On the other end of the spectrum from Penicillin, the Prabowo-Ghale team has also opened Dead&, a narrow dive bar at the foot of the Lan Kwai Fong Amphitheatre. (Coincidentally, Penicillin is taking over Buddha Lounge’s old space, while Dead& is in Baby Buddha’s former space.) Expect plenty of beers, classic cocktails, and slushies—and even Aperol Spritz on tap.
While one of the team’s highbrow cocktails typically rings in at $100 or more at Penicillin, Dead&’s libations are far more wallet-friendly at around $50 during regular hours and $20 during the bar’s “cheapskate hours.” The atmosphere is also far more casual, with a “rowdy, peanuts-on-the-floor vibe that spills out into the street,” as Roman Ghale put it in an interview last month. Literally—you can chuck your peanut shells on the floor and they’ll get swept up and repurposed at Penicillin. Is this what business gurus call… synergy?
Dead&, 18 Wo On Lane, Lan Kwai Fong, Central | (+852) 9886 5711
Despite the confusing name, this month-long cocktail event is a pretty exciting addition to Hong Kong’s drinks calendar—this is the first time that the city has ever had a cocktail week! (Let alone four in one go, which others might call... a month). Semantics aside, the list of participating bars and restaurants is stacked with the likes of The Wise King, Tell Camellia, 001, and Terrible Baby—all of which we would recommend visiting.
Each partner outlet has created bespoke limited-edition cocktails for the event, and each week of the event will feature drinks created around a different spirit—with almost 100 cocktails being created especially for this event. To enjoy the drinks, all you have to do is buy an entry pass online—either the bar hopper pass ($298), which gets you three drink tokens, or the bar runner pass ($458), which covers five drink tokens, both of which include a goodie bag from the bar of your choice.
Now that temperatures have finally started to drop, it’s prime time to hit the city’s many, many rooftop bars. But not all rooftop bars are made equal, and a good deal of high-altitude hotspots rely on their views, rather than their drinks, to pull customers in—which is why we’re so fond of Sugar’s new “Flavours of Hong Kong” menu, which appeals to us as both barflies and Hongkongers. The limited-edition menu features a bevy of Hong Kong-inspired bevvies, such as the Daan Tat (egg tart), Yuen Yeung (coffee-tea combo), and Yeung Ji Gum Lo (mango pomelo sago). The craft cocktails, which start from $150, are available from now until March 2021, which gives you plenty of time to try them all.
Sugar, 32/F, EAST, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Tai Koo | (+852) 3968 3738
While we never need a reason to visit Terrible Baby, we are intrigued by the new drinks menu being spearheaded by the recently joined manager, Axel Gonzalez, who previously headed up the bars at Buenos Aires Polo Club and Taqueria Super Macho. Gonzalez is making his debut with two Hong Kong-inspired cocktails—the Osmanthus Fizz ($85), a gin fizz spiked with chamomile tea syrup and osmanthus tea, and the Fallen Spritz ($85), made with light Cuban rum, cynar (an Italian amaro-style liqueur), grapefruit juice, pomelo, orange-vinegar syrup, and prosecco. Both are light and refreshing enough to be—to borrow beer terminology—extremely sessionable, making them the perfect drinks with which to while away a night on Terrible Baby’s distinctly un-terrible terrace.
Terrible Baby, 4/F, Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei | (+852) 2710 1866
Honi Honi may have been around for eight years, but the tiki-themed rum bar is still finding ways to stay relevant—in large part due to initiatives like its latest partnership with Hong Kong’s very own Life CBD. You can now order four of Honi Honi’s signature cocktails—including the all-time best-seller, Tropical Storm ($160)—with an extra enhancement in the form of 30 millilitres of Life CBD drops, which are touted to be calming and creativity-inspiring. If you’d prefer to enjoy CBD in the comfort of your own home, you can also buy 200-millilitre bottled cocktails ($150), which come with a 30-millilitre bottle of Life CBD in Maori spring punch or Pina Colada flavours.
Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge, 3/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington Street, Central | (+852) 2353 0885