Ten years ago, Hong Kong had only a handful of cocktail bars, but in this ever-growing metropolis, things change quickly. These days, new watering holes are sprouting up constantly, making it almost impossible to keep up. Whether you enjoy Hemingway-inspired speakeasies, incredible rooftop terrace bars, secret pop-up spots or experimental Chinese cocktails, Hong Kong has a flavor for every type of tippler.
Here are five of our favorite bar openings (so far) this year.
Rum Barber Pop-Up
Earlier this year, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong unveiled a hidden bar inside its art-deco-style Mandarin Barber shop. Usually reserved for straight-razor shaves and expert cuts, the gentlemen’s-club-like space transforms into a Caribbean-style bar come evening.
Channeling old-world Havana, The Rum Barber provides a shortlist of sophisticated cocktails made with premium Cuban and Jamaican rums, such as Havana Club Máximo Extra Ańejo and Appleton Estate 21.
The space is perfect for an offbeat date night or a bit of multitasking — a Mandarin Barber Mojito will go down easy after a clean shave or a Shanghainese pedicure (a technical treatment that women can enjoy, too).
The Old Man
Hidden down an alleyway in SoHo, The Old Man is one of the best bars to set up shop in Hong Kong in a long time. Named after Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 classic The Old Man and the Sea, the speakeasy offers a menu that follows the bon vivant around the world on his stylish escapades.
Bartender and co-founder Agung Prabowo (formerly the beverage manager at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong) utilizes a host of chemistry-lab-worthy molecular contraptions to craft the bar’s experimental cocktails, which range wildly from the Gruyère-topped The Snows of Kilimanjaro to a curry-leaf-infused gin in The Sun Also Rises.
Every signature on the menu has a personality and story — as does the unconventional bar. Its I-shaped design is meant to spark and facilitate conversations while a copper cooling strip doubles as a coaster. Wooden bookshelves and tropical prints set the round-the-world scene while a portrait of Hemingway (made from the bar’s construction and textile waste) anchors the room.
Upstairs at Belon
A casual-chic Parisian-style bistro in the city’s busy SoHo District, Belon steals the hearts of Hong Kong diners with its incredible 48-month-aged Comté cheese, lomo iberico (dry-cured pork loin prosciutto), oyster tartare and freshly baked madeleines.
It comes as no surprise that the restaurant’s latest venture has been just as well received. Climb the hidden staircase in the back of the eatery and you’ll find yourself at Upstairs at Belon, where an intimate speakeasy hosts up to 18 guests. Enjoy the cocktail of the week or the well-curated wine list sourced from boutique French vineyards — with an emphasis on rare and unusual finds.
Kerry Hotel Hong Kong opened in Hung Hom, on the eastern side of Kowloon Peninsula earlier this year, bringing with it one of the city’s hottest new bars. Inside the urban resort, an industrial-chic oasis takes the form of Red Sugar.
Perched on the seventh floor of the hotel, the stylish place serves classic cocktails — including a barrel-aged negroni — alongside seasonal specialties, such as a strawberry and fennel spritz and bottled margaritas. But the best part? The stunning 270-degree panoramas of Victoria Harbour from a spacious outdoor terrace.
Located in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong — Hong Kong’s central nightlife district — Fang Fang incorporates Chinese philosophy into its unique cocktail list at the direction of mixologist Gagan Gurung. The sleek spot takes its cues from the five elements: water, wood, earth, fire and metal.
Instead of a conventional drinks menu, you can choose a libation based on the element you’re craving. For instance, a spicy Grounded Yellow Dragon speaks to earth while a goji-berry-infused Nuer Fang represents wood.
In case a few tasty tipples piques your appetite, the space conveniently doubles as a contemporary Asian restaurant where signatures such as roasted duck and forest honey-grilled Chilean sea bass will leave an impression.