Six bars to visit in Hong Kong

Six bars to visit in Hong Kong

If you like agave and its derivatives, that is tequila and mescal – or even if you just like great cocktails – make a beeline for COA, which is just off Hollywood Road. Opened by Hong Kong bar veteran, Jay Khan, the bar is named after the machete-like tool that is used for harvesting the agave plant.

A painting of Mayahuel, the goddess that is a personification of the agave, is at the entrance and, as Jay tells me, his interest in the agave stems from the fact that “tequila and mezcal are the only spirits that express their flavour naturally”.

Start off with some Tepache, a frothy and mildly-carbonated, low alcoholic beverage, which comes in various flavours – I have a pineapple and cinnamon version.

Next up is Horchata de Pistachio, a refreshing cinnamon vanilla rice drink served in a ceramic cup. My highlight of the evening, however, is COA’s caffeinated Negroni, with a touch of mezcal and a slice of chocolate as a garnish. So good that I have two!

Mizunara: The Library

At the Vault Biennale in Mumbai recently, Kayama San of Bar Benfiddich from Tokyo, one of the World’s 50 Best Bars for 2018, joked that when the world came to Tokyo to try and figure out the Japanese style of bartending, it mystified the local bartenders, who had no idea that what they were doing was anything special.

Safe to say that, like in most other aspects of their life, it’s the unflagging attention to detail that marks out Japanese bartending. With the bar tended by A&M, Masahiko and Ayumi Endo, ‘Mizunara: The Library’ is a great place to experience the same.

It’s a small bar, with limited seating and a Japanese garden outside. The over 600 labels on offer, is the reason for the Library tag. Just sit at the bar counter and watch them operate - it’s a joy to behold masters at their craft!

Ayumi makes a Spring Harmony for us which, as she explains, combines Bols Genever, cherry brandy, elderflower, lemon and Earl Grey tea, combining floral sweetness with a hint of tea.

The Wise King

Another bar opened by a set of industry veterans has an interesting story. It’s named after the 13th-century monarch, Alfonso X, ‘The Wise King’ of Castille.

Leon and Galicia could not eat anything more than tit-bits due to a medical condition. Following his recovery, he decreed that all drinks be accompanied by a snack – that is how Tapas originated!

My evening at The Wise King passed in a blur, fuelled by a number of shots, with a standout cocktail being the barrel-aged Manhattan. Spend your time more leisurely – it will be well worth it.


A speakeasy bar (for those not in the ken) is a style dating back to the US prohibition era, wherein you had to know where the bars were and how to get into them, “speakeasy and enter”. Stockton is one of those and its website offers little clues, apart from an enigmatic “down a dark alleyway, look for a light bulb” line.

Getting there is, fortunately, worth the effort, and its interiors are eccentric and buzzing.

A standout cocktail for me was the Honey Badger, a mix of Bourbon and Chartreuse with flavours of rosemary, lemon, ginger and honey. It’s named for an animal considered one of the most fearless in the world.

Otto e Mezzo Bombana

If the Michelin-starred Otto Bombana’s restaurant menu appears too daunting then seek refuge in their excellent bar and have one of their signatures, the 8½ Negroni. The cocktail has a few tricks, including the addition of Barolo (a style of Italian red wine) and the overall effect helps in making the drink mellower.

As an added advantage, the bar is helmed by Devender Sehgal, one of India’s finest bartending exports. And since you’re there, don’t forget to get him to make you The Optimist, an award-winning cocktail of his.

The Old Man

As James Tamang puts it, he doesn’t know of many bars that have been inspired by a book. One such is what Roman Ghale, Agung Prabowo and James have put together, inspired by the Hemingway classic, The Old Man and the Sea.

A small bar, ‘The Old Man’ has recently been joined by two more – a branch of ‘The Old Man’ is in Singapore, and ‘The Sea’ (to complete the title), is also in Hong Kong.

‘The Old Man’ features fusion cocktails, with interesting twists on classics like the Martini, Pisco Sour, Daiquiri and the Old Fashioned.

My Papa Doble is a twist on the original Hemingway Daiquiri, with pineapple sous vide rum, clarified pink grapefruit, lime and maraschino sous vide jalapeno.