Hong Kong is a veritable nest of fantastic cocktail bars. Competition is high but so are the standards, with each bar competing for the freshest ingredients, the most exotic menu and the most exclusive clientele. Here is a guide to finding the best cocktails in Hong Kong.
001 Bar, Soho
With no sign, no advertisements or an open door, many people are unaware of this spot’s actual name, simply referring to it as “Secret Bar.” But those in the know enjoy some of Hong Kong’s most memorable cocktails. In order to experience 001, simply call to make an appointment, show up on time and ring the doorbell. The plain black door opens up to another world: a dark, elegantly intimate bar with 1940s-style velveteen seats and mirrored walls.
Despite the elusive location and discreet entrance, 001 is staffed by friendly folks who certainly know their craft. Just tell them what you’re in the mood for and they’ll point your taste buds in the right direction. Spicy, sour or sweet — they have it all. The pièce de résistance on the menu is the earl grey martini, so don’t miss out.
M Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, Central
Cocktails taste so much better with a sensational view. M Bar on the 25th floor of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is smack in the middle of the city and has one of the best vistas in town. Take it all in with a masterfully mixed classic cocktail or try one of the artisanal signatures, such as the distinctly native Hong Kong Legend, a lovely libation with vodka, osmanthus wine, lychee, lime and whisky gum.
If you’re feeling peckish, dim sum is served in the day, and nighttime tapas complement the drinks beautifully. A smart-casual dress code applies after 5 p.m. It gets busy at night, which is all part of the fun.
Chic, dimly lit Awtar in Soho is designed with exotic, Middle Eastern flare, as is the menu. This bar and restaurant has a secret weapon — one of Hong Kong’s finest mixologists, David Bohan. Among his creations is the Rinfrescante, an opulent concoction of elderflower liqueur, fresh apple and lime juice, cucumber and mint with a garnish of roses. The Mango Sour, another favorite, is a vodka-based cocktail made with mango, egg whites and bitters.
Sip on your beverage with fresh Mediterranean snacks: avocado dip, hummus, feta and Awtar’s celebrated bazenjan aubergine dip served with warm pita bread. Outdoor seating and shisha service is available.
Champagne Bar at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Wan Chai
It’s hard to imagine a better place for drinks than the art-deco-styled Champagne Bar, an elegant haven in the bustling, neon-lit hub of Wan Chai. The place is a trip back in time, just a step from the lobby of the ultra-modern Four-Star Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. Sit up at the circular bar and check out the vast wine selection, but be sure to sample the classic champagne cocktails as well.
For an extra indulgence, try a little something from the caviar menu with a glass of vintage bubbly. The dress-to-impress bar is open until 1 or 2 a.m. Live jazz and blues performances are featured from Monday to Saturday.
Not far from Awtar on Staunton Street is Varga, a friendly bar where you’re guaranteed to make new friends. A cool clientele and a good blend of rock and pop music give Varga a relaxed atmosphere where people don’t take themselves too seriously. Large groups can congregate upstairs, and singles and couples can hang out at the downstairs bar, which is whimsically decorated with retro furnishings and 1950s pin-up girl pictures. It’s kitsch and cute.
Varga is known for its legendary passion fruit cocktails made with fresh juice. Be warned, though: these tropical potions are incredibly easy to drink. Order some sparkling water to stay hydrated in all the humidity.