Top 10 Cocktail Spots in Hong Kong

Up a janky elevator to this narrow doorway leading to the Yu Club
Up a janky elevator to this narrow doorway leading to the Yu Club

10 Places To Find Great Cocktails In Hong Kong

This article I wrote for Food Republic, originally published on December 17, 2014. The article and all photos below are all by Virginia Miller.

One can find a little of everything in Hong Kong. A truly international city, it’s packed with restaurants representing a broad range of cuisines and some of the best third-wave coffee shops in the world. The cocktail scene continues to grow with exciting new spots, classic destinations and hidden lounges in highrises, many of them with rooftop patios. Here are 10 of Hong Kong’s best for cocktail fans.

The Envoy
The Envoy

1. The Envoy

Adorable yinyuang owl mug at The Envoy
Adorable yuanyuang owl mug at The Envoy

This may be the most exciting of Hong Kong’s newcomers, thanks to bar manager Amanda Wan and star Hong Kong barman Antonio Lai (also behind the bars Origin and Quinary, below). Soft opening this summer in the gorgeous Pottinger Hotel, The Envoy is tucked upstairs on the third floor, a chic wonderland of elegant wallpaper, alcoves, a long bar — including a corner reservations-only bar within full view of a centrifuge and other house equipment — and a white light-strewn patio.

The Envoy's "blood bag" cocktail
The Envoy’s “blood bag” cocktail

The magic of the space translates to the playful drinks and tea cocktails embracing the all-important British-Chinese afternoon tea ritual, celebrated with creative bites, served from 3 to 6 p.m. Lai’s True Blood #2 is easily the talk of the bar, served in a “blood bag” on a bed of ice in a…liver dish. But, the blood red drink is not at all disgusting. Rather, it’s a fresh combination of earthy beet juice (happily dominating the drink), Bols Genever, ginseng liqueur, orange, lemon and cranberry juices. There’s also a non-alcoholic delight that’s just as whimsical as the rest of the menu: a classic Hong Kong yuanyang (coffee and milk tea), served in an adorable, clear owl cup. 3/F, The Pottinger Hong Kong, 74 Queen’s Road, Central, +852 2169 3311,

Marke Vojcarcik cocktails at Duddell’s

2. Duddell’s 

Duddell's vacation-like patio
Duddell’s vacation-like patio

In a town rife with cool outdoor patios, Duddell’s is probably one of the coolest. The expansive, open-air lounge, located upstairs from the two Michelin-starred restaurant, is lined with tropical foliage, vintage lawn furniture and tables, surrounded by views of neighboring skyscrapers. The artful, British-influenced menu from salon manager Marek Vojcarcik highlights cocktail classics (like a twist on a Gibson with Tanqueray gin, dry vermouth and a garnish of baby pickles) and creative house drinks like Opium, a Scotch-based drink laced with peach, lime and poppy seed milk. 1 Duddell Street, Central, +852 2525 9191,

3. Yardbird

Yardbird's special, canned Suntory HIghballs
Yardbird’s special, canned Suntory HIghballs

Yakitori that rivals the best in Japan? That is exactly what buzzy (and rightly so) Yardbird serves throughout a cramped but convivial two floors. Canadians Matt Abergel and Lindsay Jang are behind this perennially packed, no-reservations space. Though it will be tough snagging a seat, drink lovers — particularly, fans of Japanese beer, sake, shochu and whisky — would do well not to miss this one-of-a-kind menu. Beverage manager Elliot Faber has access to rarities from Japan, including awamori (a rice spirit from Okinawa), and an impressive Japanese whisky menu (yes, there are Ichiro bottlings) grouped under “Mellow” or “Woody.” Try cocktails like a refreshing awamori margarita or the house special cans of Suntory highballs. 33 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan, +852 2547 9273,

4. The Chinnery at The Mandarin Oriental
Though you can’t top the 25th floor view from the otherworldly, flagship Mandarin Oriental’s sleek M Bar, its cozy first-floor British restaurant, The Chinnery is the more casual classic. The venue is named after British artist George Chinnery, whose Hong Kong paintings still line the walls. History buffs will love that it’s been open since 1963 and hasn’t changed much since (although, thankfully, the male-only aspect changed in 1990). Along with steak and Scotch eggs, the Chinnery is all about single malt whisky (more than 100 varieties), draft beer served in the Mandarin’s classic, chilled silver tankards (made legendary in the Mandarin Oriental’s Captains Bar downstairs) and classic cocktails like a Mint Julep or Rob Roy. Note: dress smart as there is a dress code. 1/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, + 852 2825 4009,

Chinese Julep at Artesian at the Langham
Chinese Julep at Artesian at the Langham

5. Artesian at The Langham

Artesian at the Langham
Artesian at the Langham

One of the most awarded bars in the world, the Artesian at the Langham Hotel in London, recently saw a sister bar open this fall in the gorgeously remodeled Langham Hotel Hong Kong. But, it would be a disservice to assume Artesian HK is a twin of the London location. With Deco-meets-modern details, the sleek half-circle bar is surrounded by banquettes, couches and a fireplace — and within earshot of a grand piano and daily live music. Bar manager Rajendra “Rush” Limbu brings a decidedly Asian slant to the British-inspired cocktails, including extensive gin and tonic options. Try his playful twists on classics, like a Dim Sum Old Fashioned combining Michter’s Bourbon and Rye with sugar, Old Fashioned and aromatic bitters, old-fashioned bitters or a Chinese Mint Julep (marked by a red Chinese lantern) with a twist of kaffir lime alongside mint and Chinese Tai Koo brown sugar. 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2375 1133,

6. Aberdeen Street Social
Possibly the most balanced, garden-fresh cocktails in the city are served at Aberdeen Street Social, a two-story hotspot that opened in May 2013. Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton turns out visionary dishes in the upstairs restaurant. But, the downstairs cocktail bar and café, facing an urban garden, is the spot from which to try delicious, vegetal cocktails like Just Beet-Root To Me (bay leaf-infused Calvados, Poire Williams eau de vie, lemon juice, beetroot grenadine, egg white) or a Pea-lini (salted green pea cordial, Herbsaint, lemon juice, mint, Prosecco).  35 Aberdeen St, Central, +852 2866 0300,

7. Ham & Sherry

Ham & Sherry
Ham & Sherry

In the bustling Wan Chai district, Jason Atherton and Yenn Wong (of nearby 22 Ships and the aforementioned Duddell’s) opened Ham & Sherry at the end of 2013. The intimate space is sunny with Spanish blue-and-white tiles, and serves tapas with a Hong Kong spin. (Pro tip: try the killer prawns.) Though not a bar, per se, there’s a central counter around the tiny kitchen that’s ideal for a snack of Iberico ham and sherry from the generous list. Tasting through flights of sherries is the drink highlight here, but there are also sherry cocktails. One unusual, dessert-like offering is dubbed Let’s Go Camping, mixing Oloroso sherry with Michter’s Rye whiskey, Mancino Rosso Vermouth, Campari and absinthe, graced with a toasted marshmallow. 1-7 Ship St, Wan Chai, +852 2555 0628,

8. Fu Lu Shou

Fu Lu Shou's patio
Fu Lu Shou’s patio

Yet another hidden, rooftop bar, friendly, laid back Fu Lu Shou is less than a year old, set in an open air space, the patio marked by hanging chairs and comfy couches in front of a funky, graffiti-inspired wall with ancient Chinese men holding chopsticks. The guilty pleasure food is retro Chinese through a Western lens (think Kung Pao chicken, honey prawns, sweet and sour pork and “Big Arsed Steamed Dim Sum”). Cocktails stick to refreshing basics (Mojitos, Negronis, Margaritas) and unexpectedly pleasing mocktails like the Vegetarian Orgasm, mixing fresh ginger juice, pineapple and orange juices with passion fruit syrup and a pleasing dose of sugar snap peas. Cocktails are most interesting on the funky side, like the Haam Ling Chut “Salty Lemon”, an acquired taste of Angostura Reserve 3 year old white rum, salted lemon, salted lemon juice, preserved mandarin, mint and Fever Tree lemonade and tonic. Email ahead for the door code to gain entry. 7/F, 31 Hollywood Rd, Central, +852 2336 8812,

9. Yu Club

Yu Club
Yu Club

This locals’ spot is hidden in a highrise, just off an elevator in a hallway marked by a Bruce Lee poster and hanging bamboo steamer baskets. Got that? Yu Club is a quirky, lived-in space that recalls Hong Kong circa 1970s, right down to the vintage wallpaper and historic newspaper clippings. Menus are in the format of Hong Kong children’s schoolbooks from decades past and the list is heavy on the vodka and crazy, fruity-sounding cocktails. But, in this mellow space, the bartenders make each drink with care and have particular fun surprising the tastes buds with the likes of Pop Rocks shots or a combo that mimics the idea of eating salmon sashimi vegetarian-style with a raw sliver of coconut on ice, wasabi vodka shots and soy sauce. 24-26 Stanley St., Central, +852 2868 1833,

10. Quinary

Quinary’s Mugunghwa Fizz

Though generally without attitude, one could call the Quinary a bit hipster, playing to the flashier cocktail trends of the past decade. Bartenders that look like they couldn’t be a day over 20 work with liquid nitrogen, clarified juices and a centrifuge to craft cocktails like a Mugunghwa Fizz, an Asian-influenced version of a classic Ramos Gin Fizz. House-made yuzu gin syrup and Korean rice wine intermingle with gin, cream, egg white, lemon, grapefruit and orange blossom water to soft and frothy effect, all garnished with grapefruit peel. The dim, sexy space begs for a date and at certain hours can be just packed enough to have a bit of a scene. Or, during earlier hours, it can be blessedly mellow for a quiet pre-dinner drink. 56-58 Hollywood Road, Central, +852 2851 3223,