Header image courtesy of Room 309
We know, we know. It’s been a while since we gave you the lowdown on the best places to drink around town, but then again it’s been a strange year. This year, Hong Kong’s normally buzzing drinking establishments have had to close, on and off, for more than three months. Despite the hardships faced by the industry, folks have been working behind the scenes to revamp existing menus, innovate interesting pop-up concepts, or launch new bars entirely. What better way to thank these hardworking people for the laughs, shots, and good times than by supporting them in their new and current ventures? We know we’ll be there. Read on for the best places to drink this October.
You heard it here first: Agung Prabowo is leaving The Old Man. The Hemingway-inspired Soho bar, which has consistently topped local and regional best-of lists under the veteran bartender’s steady hand, is shaking things up with the appointment of Nikita Matveev as its new operational director. Matveev is one of the youngest rising stars in the industry, having headed up the mixology programmes at the Kerry Hotel, Mandarin Oriental Macau, and Soho House Hong Kong before turning his attention to popular Peel Street craft beer bar 99 Bottles.
While the Old Man will still retain some of its most popular cocktails, Matveev has been hard at work in the lab fermenting ingredients and creating a brand new menu. The details are still under wraps, but we predict that Matveev’s experimental-yet-drinkable creations will go down a treat.
The Old Man, Lower G/F, 37–39 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 2703 1899
For the barflies who love espresso martinis and never leave Yardbird without taking a shot of coffee shochu, Mamma Always Said’s October drinks menu is one that can’t be missed. The Peel Street hotspot, helmed by newly minted operational manager Sasha Vasiliev, will be putting its Australian cold drip tower to good use throughout the month with a limited edition cocktail menu featuring premium Australian coffee liqueur Mr Black.
Those with a sweet tooth are sure to love the Beautiful Little Fool ($70), which pairs Mr Black with bittersweet cocoa-washed Amaro and tops it off with cinnamon-sprinkled whipped coconut cream, while fans of sour flavours have to try the Yuzu Pleasure ($45 for a mocktail, $75 for a highball), which blends cold drip coffee with fragrant yuzu and bitter tonic.
Mamma Always Said, 42–44 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2386 2216
Is there a better time of year for all things spooky and supernatural than October? We don’t think so—and based on their Mystic Nights pop-up, it seems like the talented folks behind Room 309 and the Two Moons Distillery agree. The two home-grown heavyweights recently collaborated on their limited-edition Five Flowers Tea Dry Gin, which is being showcased in the tarot-themed event from now until November 14.
The menu—which comes in the form of a custom tarot deck—features tarot-inspired drinks such as the Full Moon Ritual ($160), a gingery, gin-based cocktail with a dash of black walnut bitters and hints of grapefruit. Head mixologist Antonio Lai’s signature Hong Kong-influenced style comes through with Wild Intuitives ($160), a cedarwood- and iris-fragranced tipple enriched with Pei Pa Koa. To try the star spirit in all its glory, you can’t go wrong with the Five Flowers Tea Gin & Tonic ($140) made with Fever-Tree Indian tonic.
Two Moons’ co-founder Ivan Chang and distiller Dimple Yuen will be at the pop-up every other Wednesday evening, should you want to pick their brains. Or, if you’re still smarting over the loss of Employees Only (is that just us?), you could also drop by on Thursdays from 6 pm to 7pm to get a tarot card reading.
Room 309 won’t be taking reservations for this event, so try to go during off-peak hours if you can—and don’t forget to pick up the key card from reception to access the bar!
Room 309, 3/F, The Pottinger Hong Kong, 74 Queen’s Road Central, Central
This Chinese mythology-inspired taproom from Moonzen Brewery technically opened in June, but considering that bars were ordered to close between July and September, chances are that you haven’t been yet. Located around the corner from the famous Mong Kok Ladies’ Market, Moonkok’s kitschy-cool vibe and “cantobites” menu is slightly reminiscent of Happy Paradise (if a little more sedate).
There’s a concise menu of “baos to the west” and “tacos to the east”, but the main point of interest here is the beer. There are 12 taps in total—nine of which are reserved for Moonzen draughts—and a short and sweet menu of bottled beers from Moonzen and other breweries. Try the flagship Thunder God for a tropical and easy-going pale ale, or the Kitchen God for a rich, medium-bodied porter flavoured with espresso and honey.
Moonkok, 88 Shantung Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 2911 4662
Fancy an alfresco bevvy? You’re in luck—upscale Japanese restaurant Zuma is putting its gorgeous garden terrace to good use in the cooler autumn months with a pop-up bar (open 5 pm to close every day from now until 5 December). If you’ve been missing international travel (who hasn’t?), the pop-up will also provide a little escapism with its Japanese and French cocktails.
Designed by Zuma Hong Kong’s new bar manager Lorenzo Coppola in collaboration with French gin Citadelle, the six-drink menu features light and easy cocktails like the sake- and yuzu-spiked Riviera ($130) as well as spirit-forward choices like the La Brosse Martini ($155; pictured), made with gin, vermouth, and purple shiso tincture.
If you find yourself feeling peckish, there’s a menu of pop-up exclusive snacks like pork gyoza with foie gras ($180), scallop tartare ($180), and Gillardeau oysters ($80 each). To make the whole experience more immersive, Zuma has decked out the terrace to evoke a garden in the South of France, with bountiful greenery accented by a palette of lemon yellow and ocean blue.
Zuma, Level 5&6 Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central | (+852) 3657 6388
Speaking of Zuma, one of its London alumni is shaking things up at JIA’s Michelin-starred Chinese eatery, Duddell’s. Mario Calderone, who previously headed up Honi Honi in Central, has just been named head mixologist and salon manager at Duddell’s, where he has pledged to bring “fun and good vibes” as well as his knowledge of “classic old-style cocktails”.
Duddell’s will unveil Calderone’s “simple” and “guest-friendly” cocktail menu—comprised of pre-Prohibition recipes “with a twist”—in the second week of October, marking a change from the existing Japanese-themed menu. Some of the “twists” include the Champagne Cobbler ($160) made with Veuve Clicquot Champagne, a splash of maraschino liqueur, and fresh orange, lemon, and pineapple and Duddell’s Sour ($140; pictured), a concoction of citron vodka, Aperol, passion fruit, citrus juice, and egg white.
If you discover a new favourite drink, we recommend ordering it often—Calderone plans to change the menu every six months, only keeping a handful of guest favourites from season to season.
Duddell’s, 3/F, 1 Duddell Street, Central | (+852) 2525 9191
If you spent most of your social distancing time missing fine restaurants and bars (hey, we’re not judging—we’re bougie too), then we’ve got a doozy of a pop-up for you. Simon Rogan’s acclaimed Causeway Bay restaurant Roganic is teaming up with four of the best bartenders in the city for Craft & Spirit, a bar takeover series taking place across four nights in October and November.
Each of Craft & Spirit nights will see a different guest bartender whip up a limited edition menu of one mocktail and two cocktails ($120 each). And what bartenders they are! Roganic has rustled up a veritable all-star line-up in the form of The Diplomat’s John Nugent, Rosewood Hong Kong’s Arkadiusz Rybak, Coa’s Jay Khan, and The Old Man founder Agung Prabowo.
You can choose to try the signature Long Tasting Menu ($1,100; comes with one craft cocktail) for the ultimate blowout meal or sample the pop-up’s exclusive snacks—pig and eel croquettes ($60) and birch sap-glazed truffle pudding with Berkswell cheddar ($60)—if you’d prefer to keep things light. Each takeover will last for one night only, so we’d recommend making a reservation ahead of time if you’re keen to check it out—click here to book.
Roganic, UG08, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2817 8383
For an event that’ll stimulate the senses, head to Bar Q88 at the JW Marriott, where head mixologist Bryson Rivera has created a limited five-drink menu to match a series of eau de toilettes from local perfumery Artisenses. Each of the perfumes is inspired by a specific drink—whisky green tea, Long Island iced tea, gin and tonic, pink vanilla martini and mojito—and you’ll get a 12ml bottle of perfume to match whichever drink you order.
The cocktails are available daily from 5pm to 8 pm between 8 and 31 October and if you swing by between 5 pm to 7.30 pm from Thursday to Saturday, you can also get a free perfume consultation from Artisenses.
Bar Q88, JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, 88 Queensway, Admiralty | (+852) 2810 8366
If you drink Fernet-Branca to settle an upset stomach and hot toddies to ward off colds, then this upcoming addition to the Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront might be for you. Boticario—which is the Spanish word for “apothecary”—is a restaurant and cocktail bar with a vintage-inspired cocktail programme of homemade sodas, phosphates, tonics, tinctures, infusions, and craft spirits.
Set to open end of October, the venue is designed to evoke 1920s Buenos Aires as part of an homage to the herbal healing traditions of South America’s farmácias, as well as the wider history of alcohol being prescribed as medication.
The earthy brown and green space spans two floors and includes a terrace and patio with alfresco seating, where you can line your stomach with an array of Mediterranean and Latin dishes during the more temperate months.
More details (like the exact address!) to follow.
Boticario, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East | (+852) 6227 9609