The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Andrea Lo | April 26th, 2016

With so many molecular bars offering wild cocktail creations — filled with flavored smoke, served in a mini bathtub — sometimes you just want sip on a good ol’ martini. Get back to basics with classic cocktails at these timeless bars. Or try a slight twist if that’s your thing!

I’m craving an… Old Fashioned

Keep it Classic

Pay attention, Old Fashioned fans: Ronin boasts an extensive Japanese whisky collection, with more than 100 varieties on offer — many of which are not available elsewhere. Its Maple Old Fashioned ($230) is off the menu, but available to those in the know. And you really do want to know about this one. Made with premium Japanese whisky Nikka the Barrel and pure maple syrup, finished off with two dashes of baked apple bitters. But that’s not classic! Yeah, okay, true. Just ask for a traditional Old Fashioned (albeit with Japanese whisky) and watch the bartender stir it for a full eight minutes.

8 On Wo Lane, Central, 2547-5263.

Ronin old fashioned. Photo: Justine Tai
Ronin’s classic old fashioned. Photo: Justine Tai

With a Twist

If you find the classic Old Fashioned a little on the strong side, check out Lily and Bloom’s Snickers Old Fashioned ($150). Made with Michter’s American Whisky infused with Snickers chocolate, plus vanilla demerara, walnut and xocolatl bitters. The sweet ingredients in the drink balance out the bitterness of the whisky. Purists might scoff at the idea — but don’t knock it until you try it.

5-6/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, 2810-6166.

Old Fashioned - Lily & Bloom_Fotor
Snickers in an Old Fashioned? Lily & Bloom says, sure, why not?

I’m craving a… Bloody Mary

Keep it Classic

For the best take on the Bloody Mary in Hong Kong, look no further than The Globe. The delicious secret recipe ($85) involves a complex blend of flavors, with the addition of fresh tomatoes and three different types of chilis, resulting in a strong, spicy kick.

G/F, Garley Building, 45-53 Graham Street, Central, 2543-1941.

With a Twist

The Spiced Kimchi Mary ($140) at Korean-American hotspot Jinjuu is an Asian-inspired take on the classic cocktail. Replacing vodka with a celery and black pepper-infused soju, it also comes with a kimchi spice mix made in-house, which consists of kimchi juice, clamato juice, fermented Korean condiment gochujang, and lime juice. Korean red pepper powder gochugaru rims the glass, while a celery stick and bamboo cone are used are garnishes.

UG/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, 3755-4868.

I’m craving a… Martini

Keep it Classic

Forget all the fruity, faux versions of martinis. A true martini lover will know that they do not come with cherries, espresso or any superfluous finishes. Head to the Four Seasons’ Blue Bar for a classic martini ($135) done right, with gin and vermouth, garnished with a nice fat olive.

Lobby, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, 3196-8888.

With a Twist

Okay, fine. You want something whimsical? Molecular cocktail lovers will be no strangers to the Earl Grey Caviar Martini ($130), a signature at award-winning cocktail bar QuinaryUsing the “multisensory mixology” concept to develop cocktails, head bartender Antonio Lai is known for a whimsical approach in his creations. Quinary’s innovative take on the classic is made with Absolut vodka, Cointreau, elderflower syrup, apple juice and lemon and lime and comes complete with Earl Grey-infused “caviar”. 

G/F, 56 Hollywood Road, Central, 2851-3223.

Martini - Quinary
Quinary is all about the foam.

I’m craving a… Bellini

Keep it Classic

The Bellini was invented at the original Harry’s Bar in Italy almost a century ago, using prosecco and fresh peach puree. These days, you’ll find dozens of varieties all around town but we prefer ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge’s Bellini 1990 ($130), which stays true to the original recipe with the wordy Col Vetoraz-Prosecco Superiore extra dry DOCG and French white peach. Dry, light and fruity, it’s the perfect summer sundowner.

28-29/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2174-8100.

With a Twist

Depending on who you’re talking to, champagne either works with a Bellini or it doesn’t — some people believe that champagne overwhelms the flavors of the drink. However, Gradini Ristorante e Bar Italiano manages to do the combo justice in the shape of the Venice Afternoon ($188). A blend of champagne, peach and apple schnapps and apple juice with mint, cucumber and basil, it’s a refreshing take on the classic.

Lobby, The Pottinger, 74 Queen’s Road Central, 2308-3088.

Gradini does a pretty good bellini

I’m craving a… Negroni

Keep it Classic

Hipster hotspot Mitte has a neon sign that reads “negroni”, which should tell you a thing or two about how seriously it takes this classic cocktail. The bar does four signature negronis: The classic version ($126), which consists of bitters produced at the Negroni Distillery, uses Boodles gin and Antica Formula vermouth. There’s also the Negroni Sbagliato ($108), which uses prosecco alongside bitters and vermouth, adding a touch of sweetness.

1A Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, 2803-7080.

With a Twist

Spanish restaurant The Optimist has no shortage of great drinks — but we also discovered that it offers a Chocolate Negroni off the menu. The chocolate added a smooth depth, and the deep cocoa notes contrasted well with the light vermouth flavor.

G/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2433-3324.

I’m craving a… Margarita

Keep it Classic

This classic cocktail is a dime a dozen around town, although Mexican joint Brickhouse does a pretty good version of it. The Brickhouse Margarita ($150) is a potent combo of Blanco rum and Damiana liqueur mixed with agave nectar and pineapple juice, with Himalayan salt on the rim.

20 D’Aguilar Street, Central, 2810-0560.

With a Twist

Nothing beats a frozen margarita to wash down your tacos and burritos. Caliente’s version  ($65, 12 oz; $85, 20 oz; $295, 48 oz glass/pitcher) is made with Jose Cuervo Silver and triple sec in a range of flavors including lime, mango, peach, strawberry, passionfruit and lychee. It’s delicioso indeed.

3/F, 6 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2723-5968.

Margarita - Caliente
Muchas margaritas at Caliente

I’m craving a… Whisky Sour

Keep it Classic

Dedicated to whiskies, the tiny, exclusive Butler is known for its painstaking attention to detail and top-notch cocktails. The Whisky Sour ($118) is made with High West Double Rye, which boasts rich cinnamon and honey notes — and is garnished with Cointreau cherry and lemon.

5/F, Mody House, 30 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2724-3828.

With a Twist

New York Italian restaurant Carbone’s take on the Whisky Sour features grapefruit juice, adding a touch of sweetness to balance out the citrusy tang in the drink. Made with Johnnie Walker Black Label, honey syrup and and layered with foamy egg white on top, it also has a dash of Peychaud’s bitters on top, forming the shape of a heart.

9/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, 2593-2593.