Look & Feel: Created by AB Concepts, ARGO features a high-end neoclassical design that hints at the exquisite innovation of its cocktails. Double-height ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Victoria Harbour offer a sense of space , but well-spaced tables and clever partitioning creates a sense of intimacy. Everywhere you look, there are markers of quality, from the velvet banquette seating to the touches of metal and marble. Designed to look like a conservatory, ARGO also boasts bold architectural elements softened with laser-engraved foliate and small terrariums. Altogether, it’s at once cozy and welcoming and entirely futuristic.
On the Menu: Unsurprisingly, ARGO is all about spirits and cocktails. The debut menu is themed. “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” and focuses on six stable ingredients that are in danger of becoming rare: honey, cacao, vanilla, coffee, rice, and apple. Each ingredient is highlighted in a duo of cocktails. The first showcases the ingredient in its original farm, while the second gets more modern and experimental. To create the cocktails, ARGO has teamed up with various entities to get the best ingredients—think honey from local bee farm HK Raw Honey and cocao from Malaysia sourced from indigenous plantations in Malaysia through Chocolate Concierge. All up, the drinks are truly something special.
We kick things off with the ARGO Martini ($150) and the Silver Fox ($130). The first is a bright, modern spin on the classic cocktail served with ARGO’s own gin (made in Australia and deep frozen before being poured in front of you) and a “magic” olive that’s been deconstructed and made whole again. The Silver Fox is a blend of Havana Club 3 Years Rum, fig leaf, oak lactone cordial, “aged lemon” and tonka, and boasts an incredibly intriguing flavor profile that hovers between fruity and oaky. Both showcase the attention to detail and inventiveness that ARGO stands for.
We also try two versions of a Negroni – the Single Origin Cocoa Aged version ($140) which features St. George Terrior Gin, Cascara vermouth, Hulu gali cocoa, Campari, and smoked Jalapeño; and a Strawberry Negroni that’s their “Canvas” special (read: cocktail of the day. Both are surprisingly decadent and punchy, but with vastly different flavours—the first has hints of chocolate and wood and is earthy, while the second is a bright, sweet cocktail that’s perfect for summer.
Cocktails are only the beginning at ARGO, though. The “Field Guide to the World’s Innovative Spirits” is a collection of exciting, rare spirits that defy traditional classifications and have been selected for their story, provenance, production, and transparency. These are split into unique categories like “Modernist Spirits” and “Philanthropic and Socially Conscious,” but all of them are truly special—and, half of the collection is only available at ARGO in Hong Kong. We sample the Monker’s Garkel—the world’s first gin created by artificial intelligence—and are completely blown away by the smooth, crisp yet robust spirit.
Of course, all the booze needs to be paired with some food, and ARGO delivers again on a short but sweet menu of bar bites. The Carabinero Tartare ($238) are decadent morsels of carabinero prawns topped with caviar and placed on a bed of puffed rice that are deliciously fresh, while the selection of Cold Cuts ($210) is filling and—thankfully, considering this is processed meat—not the overly salty charcuterie you’re probably used to. If you’re hungry, there’s also the ARGO Burger ($190) which features a patty of Angus Beef, and a trio of Sandos ($220 for individual / $340 for a flight).
Jeng: Hong Kong has several really high-quality, award-winning bars. But we’re going to go ahead and make a big claim—ARGO puts them all to shame. Between the exquisitely crafted cocktails, the immense attention to detail that’s going into sourcing ingredients, the delicious food, and the gorgeous design—not to mention the attentive, knowledgeable service— ARGO is going to be a top contender for best bar in Hong Kong. Expect to see this towards the top of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list next year.
Not So Jeng: It’s rare that a restaurant and bar opens in Hong Kong without making some sort of slip, at least in its first few weeks. But ARGO has only been opened for three weeks and it’s already hitting everything out of the park. No complaints to be had here.
Meet the Bartender: Lorenzo Antinori, Beverage Manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong and Beverage Ambassador of Four Seasons Asia Pacific hardly needs introduction. Assisted by award-winning mixologist Summer Lo, this is the team that has revamped the hotel’s beverage offerings and steered Caprive Bar to claim the #10 spot on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2020.
FYI: Grab a seat at the bar to hob-nob with the bar team while you’re drinking to really get the full story behind ARGO and each cocktail. There’s also a smaller room in the back for a bit more privacy.
Check out Hong Kong’s newest restaurants and bars here.
This writeup was based on a complimentary media tasting. The Loop HK doesn’t guarantee/sell restaurant review coverage. See our editorial policy here.