Over the years, Hong Kong’s bar scene has grown, becoming as cultivated as other cities in South East Asia like Singapore, a cocktail powerhouse in the region with more than 10 bars listed among the Top 50 Bars in Asia. Hong Kong has its own share of bars listed, including The Old Man, located in a secret side step off Aberdeen St. The Old Man earned the No. 1 listing in 2019 and stayed at the top of the list this year at No. 2. Other prestigious Hong Kong bars are ranked as top bars in Asia, including COA, The Pontiac and Lobster Bar & Grill. Despite the recent waves of restrictions from major COVID-19 outbreaks, some new bars made an appearance on the bar scene this year, and they seem here to stay. In fact, these new bars may even make it onto the Top 50 list next year.
The Daily Tot
In the 80s, vodka had its moment. Shots of tequila flew in the 90s, and then in the 2000s, cocktails came back into style – even the casual drinker knew the difference between a bourbon or Scotch whisky. Now in the 2020s, the founders of The Daily Tot believe rum is the future of craft cocktail culture. Owner Tiana Ludhani hails from Barbados, the home of rum. She believes rum will be the next liquor trend so much that she partnered with Gerry Olino, who spearheaded the bar teams at Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour and Foxglove.
Fancy bottles of rum available exclusively The Daily Tot are just a taste of the 118 rums on the menu. There are 11 cocktail recipes featuring the most diverse range of rums in Hong Kong, and more rum from around the world is introduced on a rotating basis. Since drinking on an empty stomach is not recommended, they offer a food menu with charcuterie platters, fish tacos and beef skewers wrapped in cassava leaves. Ludhani told Drink Magazine: “At The Daily Tot, we’re trying to create an atmosphere where it’s kind of cosy, so people can just sit around, have the cigars on the terrace, drink rum and relax.”
Address: LG/F, 58 Hollywood Road, Central
During Prohibition, bars had to stay hidden from the casual eye – secret passwords were required to enter illicit establishments illegally serving booze. To enter the Rosewood Hotel’s latest bar XX, you do not have to “speak easy” any secret phrases, you just have to be a woman with a special code for access. If you are expecting pink, plush décor, you have the wrong impression of this sleek speak-easy. The décor boasts velvet chairs, marble floors and fancy tables topped with famous fashion books.
XX’s cocktails are curated for a feminine taste, as the menu features botanical flavors which are soft and refreshing. Cool cocktails bear unique names like the “Sexy: She Says That A Lot,” made of jasmine, bergamot, fizz and gin. Another recommended cocktail is the “Creeper,” made of rose, rhubarb, champers and Aperol. On the food side, the menu features high-end offerings like red prawn tartare, lobster rolls and a golden brioche.
The folks behind Elephant Grounds, Wagyumafia and Mashi no Mashi have joined forces with John Nugent, who had previously led the bar at Lily & Bloom. Tucked away in the back of the H Code Building, The Diplomat has the slick style of a speak-easy, but with the coziness and unpretentious service of a dive bar. Get there early to grab one of the 18 leather banquette seats and make sure to check out the Instagram perfect bathrooms.
Most cocktails on the menu are relatively affordable for such a classy joint. For HK$95 (US$12), “The Tarling” includes pandan-infused gin, white port, baking spices, clarified orange juice and coconut. The “English House Punch” is delicious and only HK$75 (US$10). A classic whiskey sour comes garnished with a stenciled “I heart HK” design for HK$100 (US$13). Plus there is feel-good food on the menu like comfort classics mac and cheese, croque madame sandwiches and burgers. At The Diplomat, they have found the right balance between the experienced mixologist and bartender.
Address: LG/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central
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