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8 Tipsy Tarvens in Hong-Kong, with Coa starting the list at #1 are included in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023.
Coa (No. 1)
This year, Khan’s Coa completes an unprecedented accomplishment in the history of Asia’s 50 Best Bars by becoming the only bar to ever receive the coveted No. 1 spot three times!
Some bars have superstar quality that is immediately apparent when they open. It was clear from the beginning that Coa had something special after making its debut with the Highest New Entry Award in 2019 and followed that with owner-bartender Jay Khan receiving the Bartenders’ Bartender Award in 2020.
COA is handily situated on the outskirts of the lively SoHo pub and restaurant district, taking up a small area just a few feet off Hollywood Road. The rustic minimalist atmosphere of COA, where owner Jay is usually behind the bar or mingling with customers, is a manifestation of the founder’s passion for the distinctive artisanal spirits and drinking culture of Mexico. Small-producer agave-based spirits from COA’s excellent menu are served neat or in a variety of traditional spirit-forward cocktails.
Jay, one of Hong Kong’s most experienced and well-respected bartenders, has amassed an encyclopaedic understanding of both Mexico’s traditional agave farmers and the small-batch makers of agave spirits through multiple trips to the country. A stunning back bar array features an ever-changing assortment of rare and unique mezcal and tequila bottlings that are received directly from the producers in Mexico.
A gorgeously formulated cocktail menu at COA is charmed by Mexican flavour. Every week a fresh cocktail is added to the menu, based on carefully selected seasonal ingredients by members of the team.
The Caffeinated Negroni, a daring variation of the traditional drink created with Don Amado Rustico Mezcal, Master’s Gin, coffee-infused Mancino Bianco Vermouth, and Aperol, is one of the standouts on the cocktail menu. The Oaxacan Paloma, a delicious concoction of Mezcal Joven, Tequila Blanco, grapefruit soda, lime, worm salt, and grapefruit zest, is another must-try cocktail.
A small range of other Mexican spirits, wines, and specialty beers are also available at COA, which was called for the traditional harvesting instrument used by agave producers. Try the flavorful Mexican-style fermented cocktails, such the Down to Earth with Gin Mare, lacto-fermented cucumber soda, citric acid, and pickled cucumber, for cooling low-alcohol summer beverages.
Spirit connoisseurs visit the candle-lit, industrial-style venue for rare-varietal mezcal and other underrated agave-based spirits, as well as for signature drinks like the grapefruit-spiked mezcal and tequila blend, La Paloma de Oaxaca, which has been on the menu ever since the bar opened. Khan’s passion of agave is expanded in other more recent concoctions like the Ancho Highball (tequila, salted plum, ancho chile, and guava soda), which pays a full-throated homage to the Mexican pantry.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $11
Address: Shop A, LG/F Wah Shin House, 6-10 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong, Central, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2813 5787
Fridays & Saturdays: 6pm – 1am
Tuesday – Thursday & Sundays: 6pm – 12am
Argo (No. 8)
This ground-breaking bar is named Argon after the vessel that carried Jason and the Argonauts to the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology. They were led by the unstoppable trinity of Four Seasons beverage manager Federico Balzarini, deputy director of F&B Summer Lo and head barman Yvonne Chan. What will we be sipping on when ingredients run out or demand for spirits cannot be met? is a question posed in the film Argo, which offers a glimpse into the future of drinking.
Federico Balzarini, a new beverage manager who formerly oversaw the bar programmes at the multi-awarded bar at the Savoy Hotel in London and Vesper in Bangkok, is now in charge.
Asian foods are employed in Argo’s cuisine, although they run the risk of becoming expensive owing to climate-related shortages. Each drink is offered in two variations that explore its history and development, as well as some alternatives, like utilising tonka instead of vanilla. The BBQ & Tonic, which is prepared with gin, tonic water, fig leaf, and vegan char siu pork distillate, and the clay pot-aged Black Dot Manhattan Flight, which is created with cognac, whisky, fortified beer, melon, and black vinegar, are two other drinks that jokingly reference Hong Kong’s long history of cuisine.
With the aid of the bar’s spirit bible, ‘Field Guide to the World’s Innovative Spirits,’ which emphasises each bottle’s distinctive tale and provenance, spirit connoisseurs can discover uncommon libations, which are offered in 50ml shots, taster flights or as classic cocktails. Monker’s Garkel, the world’s first AI-generated gin, Glyph, Argo’s very own unique gin produced with Never Never Distilling Co., and other oddball spirits that deviate from conventional manufacture are just a few of the intriguing bottlings.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $21
Address: 8 Finance St, Central, Hong Kong.
Phone: +852 3196 8882
Opening Hours: Daily 7am – 10:30am, 12pm – 2:30pm, 5pm – 12am
Darkside (No. 9)
The Rosewood Hong Kong takes up the ideal location left vacant by the New World Centre and is next to the soon-to-open K11 Musea. It has views of Victoria Harbour and the renovated Avenue of Stars. The opulent building is a plus for Kowloon, and its signature bar, DarkSide, honours the history of this district. Kowloon is frequently referred to as “the dark side” because it isn’t Hong Kong Island, for better or bad.
The location initially gives the impression of combining the best aspects of both sides of the bay. Low lighting, soft chairs, velvet drapes, huge windows, and a stage with a live band playing easy listening music combine to create the art deco-inspired atmosphere of Hong Kong speakeasies like 001 and the space and comfort of pubs like Aqua Spirit. However, if you’re hoping for a view, you might be disappointed because the hotel’s road blocks it.
There are a tonne of alternatives on the food and beverage menus, including port or cognac straight from the barrel, a wide variety of premium spirits including whisky, madeira, and Armagnac, and classics with modern twists (Martini vs. The establishment even has its own Rosewood-branded pilsner and IPA in addition to indulgent pub treats like the Bikinin Sandwich ($90), which is made of Parisian ham, Emmental cheese and black truffle, and an upgraded egg tart ($90).
We select the No Rules, one of the six signature drinks, and get the wagyu beef cheek tempura to go with it. The No Rules, which pays homage to the ungoverned and autonomous Kowloon Walled City, is a refreshingly cooling concoction of gin, mango, cypress, and lanolin (yes, really). Even though the fruit is nearly too sweet in the beverage, the mango works nicely with the gin as an alternative to lime or lemon. However, the tempura doesn’t turn out as well. The wagyu is so rich it’s almost overwhelming. Undoubtedly a fantastic idea, but the accompanying mushroom aioli is really what makes it pop.
The 40 Square Feet, another signature beverage, is next. It is modelled after the rum-based Negroni and includes plum, bitter chocolate, and ambergris in addition to Campari, bitters, dark rum, and sweet vermouth. In what is normally an incredibly balanced drink, the intense, bittersweet flavours of the chocolate, plum, and Campari come through first. The rum plays a quiet role.
DarkSide differs from some of its Kowloon rivals in that it doesn’t rely on a theme or gimmick and it doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on any certain iconography. Although there are many excellent bars in Kowloon, particularly in Tsim Sha Tsui, DarkSide’s large selection of drinks and discrete, upscale setting make it a terrific location to stop in for a drink when you’re on this side of the harbour.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $20
Address: Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha. Tsui, Hong Kong.
Phone: +852 3891 8732
Monday-Thursday & Sunday: 5pm – 12am,
Friday & Saturday: 5pm – 1am
The Aubrey (No. 17)
The Aubrey’s interior, which was influenced by Japanism, a 19th-century art movement that incorporated Japanese aesthetics into Western art, is located on the top level, where guests may take in breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong cityscape. The new restaurant, dubbed an “eccentric Japanese izakaya,” will offer three distinct bar experiences where customers can enjoy Japanese specialty cocktails, Japanese whiskies and, of course, Japanese food.
The izakayas in Ginza, Japan, served as the model for this culinary concept, which placed a strong emphasis on traditional Japanese cooking methods and high-quality Japanese products. The restaurant intends to reduce kitchen waste by eliminating all single-use plastic from all operations and replacing it with the “world’s first viable compostable cling wrap” and sustainable-produced bamboo and paper goods. The Aubrey’s sushi and sashimi, tempura, and robata grill cuisines are featured in enhanced bentos that are served in gorgeous hand-crafted wooden boxes filled with fresh ingredients.
Devender Sehgal, a well-known local mixologist and former bar manager at Otto e Mezzo Bombana, is the host of the Aubrey’s bar segment. Sehgal won the 2021 Time Out Bar Awards Bartender of the Year award. A innovative cocktail menu will provide you with an engaging introduction to the world of shochu. Explore four Japanese prefectures—Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Okinawa, and Kagoshima—known for their distinctive shochu offerings as you travel via taste. Start with the refreshing Harmony, then savour the tropical flavours of Rokku before finishing with a robust drink called Worship, a martini riff.
The Aubrey offers superbly prepared Japanese beverages. To make drinks like the Rokku, which combines shiso, pineapple, citrus, bourbon and barley, or the bar’s well-regarded highball Banana & Champagne, which combines sweet potato and rice shochu, banana and champagne, think of Japanese whiskies, awamoris and shochu.
The four-person Omakase Cocktail Bar at The Aubrey offers patrons a chance to elevate their drinking experience by embarking on a special beverage journey using Japanese spirits and tastes. Head over to the third bar, which serves Champagne and sake as well as oysters and a variety of sake sparklers, if you like such beverages.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $20
Address: 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong.
Phone: +852 2825 4001
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm – 12am
Penicillin (No. 26)
The restaurant’s concentration is on recycling and upcycling ingredients that would generally end up in the trash. It runs a lab, bar, kitchen and fermentation area.
Together with his wife Laura and business partners Roman and Katy Ghale, Agung Prabowo heads Hong Kong’s first “closed-loop” cocktail bar, which strives to protect its environment in all it does. Agung Prabowo was once the owner of The Old Man Hong Kong, which once topped Asia’s 50 Best Bar list. The bar won the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award in 2021, and since then it has continued to advance its green practices, further lowering waste and its environmental impact.
In November 2020, Penicillin Bar on Hollywood Road opened, occupying 1,520 square feet of the old Buddha Lounge. The bar, which takes its name from the modern classic cocktail Penicillin (made with honey, lemon, ginger, a lot of Scotch and a little smoky Islay whisky), also creates drinks with an eco-friendly twist that, hopefully, will cure any cocktail cravings as well as the sustainability problems facing the bar industry.
For the “One Penicillin, One Tree” project, which is a collaboration between Penicillin, ecoSPIRITS, and Green Step Group, one new tree is planted in the Borneo rainforest region of Kalimantan for each speciality cocktail that is purchased. The beverage in question is a silky blend of handmade apple cider, burnt milk, apple skin whisky, and turmeric sherbet. The bar’s interior also incorporates eco-friendly components, such as tabletop built from Hong Kong typhoon-damaged trees and lighting recycled from adjacent companies.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $12
Address: Amber Lodge, L/G, 23 Hollywood Rd,Central, Hong Kong. Phone: +852 9880 7995
Opening Hours: Daily 5pm – 2am
Quinary (No. 31)
You’ll realise why Antonio Lai, the owner-mixologist, is considered something of a cocktail legend in Hong Kong after tasting his Earl Grey Caviar Martini.
Quinary was opened in 2012 by hometown hero Antonio Lai, the guy behind several of Hong Kong’s finest bars. Since then, the ultra-modern bar has won numerous awards. The modernist-styled, industrial-styled facility has a long, luminous bar and uses technologies like centrifuges and rotovap distillation to create ‘Multisensory Mixology’ beverages that are supposed to stimulate the senses. The luxury bar, which is recognised as one of Asia’s greatest, gives its customers a multisensory adventure that is unrivaled in the municipality.
Quinary, which is decorated like a spotless factory with concrete flooring, vintage-style lighting, and mesh gates, strives to provide cocktails that appeal to all five senses. It is the best of Antonio Lai’s several top-notch cocktail bars and the hub of Hong Kong’s molecular mixology.
Quinary offers a wide variety of cocktails, all of which are based on the idea of multisensory mixology and most of which taste more like food than actual beverages. There are many different classic dishes on the menu, many of them with unique twists. The Earl Grey Martini, a delightful cocktail composed with vodka, elderflower syrup, apple juice, Cointreau, lemon, and lime before being topped with foam, is one of the place’s most recognisable beverages. It was invented by Antonio.
The Ruby Rouge, prepared with sesame-infused vodka, sherry, hibiscus and pink peppercorn syrup, and shallot vinegar, evokes the feelings, tastes and textures of the beach from within its tiny Hong Kong bar. It is also made with gin sous vide with oysters.
Quinary is arguably one of the top cocktail bars in the entire globe, not just in Hong Kong. With their inventive mixes and inviting atmosphere, it truly is a pub experience that seems more like dining than drinking. Toby Lo is another notable mixologist whose off-menu concoctions merit their own thorough examination. This only served to highlight how carefully thought out their idea and mindset are
It is easy to understand why Quinary has garnered so many accolades, including recognition as one of the World’s and Asia’s 50 Best Bars, as well as The Bar Awards for Best Cocktail Bar of the Year and Most Creative Cocktail Programme. Therefore, there is no doubt that you must visit if you’re ever in the area.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $18
Address: 56, 58 Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong Phone: +852 2851 3223
Monday – Saturday: 5pm – 1am
Sunday: 5pm – 12am
Mostly Harmless (No. 33)
The bar promotes seasonal ingredients in its drink menu and supports nearby farms in Hong Kong.
A new cocktail omakase bar named Mostly Harmless, head by Ezra Star of The Pontiac, has claimed the second floor of the former SYP izakaya Okra. As a backdrop and stage for Ezra mixing behind the bar, the bar occupies a portion of the historic, white-tiled walls of Okra, where the names of the patrons and the seasonal menus are scrawled in Magic Markers.
It’s advisable to taste the current selections because once something is gone, it might never be offered again because the cocktail menu is always changing based on seasonal ingredients and Ezra’s most recent market haul. But placing an order based on your preferences won’t let you down.
The decor is straightforward: a four-item menu that rotates based on fresh foods acquired from nearby farms is complemented with white tiles and steel countertops. All the essential base spirits and everything that can’t be produced fresh on-site are discreetly stored above a ceiling shelf or beneath the bar counter. There isn’t even a ‘backbar’ for the barman to work with.
There are no interruptions when your order is delivered; it’s just you and your drink. The atmosphere at Mostly Harmless is relaxed and unthreatening, in contrast to other omakase-style cocktail establishments that serve extravagant or complex concoctions with a formal presentation. It’s a laid-back pub with a lively ambiance that serves well-made cocktails.
Watermelon, Pineapple, Cardamom, and Pumpkin are the items on the menu scrawled over the tiles in marker. The Cardamom creates a rich, tart flavour by blending a gin and lemon base with medicinal local green and black cardamom and almonds. The Pumpkin, a spin on the Boulevardier that combines taro and pumpkin, sacrifices some spirit-forwardness for an umami punch that is particularly cooling for the heat.
The same-named “fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately referred-to Hitchhikers trilogy” served as the inspiration for Mostly Harmless, but unlike Douglas Adams’ comparatively depressing exploration of Earth, this Sai Ying Pun venue is successful in highlighting some of the wonders from this region of our little blue planet.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $15
Address: 2/F, 110 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong.
Thursday – Saturday: 4pm – 12am
Sunday: 4pm – 12am
The Old Man (No. 47)
One of the best venues in Hong Kong to enjoy creative beverages is the former Best Bar in Asia, which it earned in 2019.
Since it first opened in 2017, The Old Man Hong Kong, a cocktail bar off Aberdeen Street, has grown to be crucial to Asia’s cocktail culture. The bar, which was initially established by seasoned businessmen Agung Prabowo, James Tamang, and Roman Ghale, is currently run by Nikita Matveev. The 1,000 square foot space is cosy yet energetic, and the bar counter features an interesting capital I design. Customers can sit together or perch at one end to watch the bartenders at work.
A striking detail is the gold cooling strip that runs down the middle of the bar top, which keeps drinks chilled. It’s expected that the bar’s Ernest Hemingway-inspired cocktail menu would feature fresh interpretations, as well as seasonally appropriate drinks.
The Old Man quickly rose to the top of Asian bars after making a dramatic mid-2017 debut on Hong Kong’s competitive cocktail bar scene, debuting at #5 on the Asia 50 Best Bars in 2018 and rising to #1 in 2019. A Singapore-based The Old Man was opened by the creators of The Old Man as a result of their success, and in April of this year, The Sea by The Old Man, another iteration of their Hemingway-themed bar idea, debuted in Hong Kong.
The Sea, a restaurant with a nautical theme that draws its design inspiration from Ernest Hemingway’s beloved yacht, is situated in a Sheung Wan neighbourhood. The nautical theme is represented in the small room’s polished wood flooring, dark mahogany bar, slatted wooden ceiling and brass-trimmed furniture, which combined conjure a ‘boat cabin’ look. The room seats about 35 people.
A succinct selection of ten trademark drinks that illustrate the cutting-edge mixology methods that have won praise at The Old Man serves as the centrepiece of the cocktail programme at The Sea. On culinary methods like fermentation, sous-vide cooking, and rotary evaporation, innovative mixology processes are founded. Head Barman and Co-Founder Agung Prabowo’s signature cocktails are built on straightforward flavour pairings, with modern health-forward inspirations informing the sugar-free and minimally alcoholic drinks.
The signature drinks are designated by numbers rather than names, and Cocktail #1, which incorporates the Heminway concept and is made with seaweed gin and lacto-fermented pineapple rind soda, serves as an example.
Modernist culinary methods are used to create cocktails with names inspired by Hemingway’s works. Instead of coasters, customers are given a freezing strip to keep their drinks icy cold. The Doomsday cocktail from the ‘Old But Gold’ part of the menu is a tiny lights show with its flaming garnish and features sandalwood scents, vetiver rye, jasmine, and grapefruit.
Quick Menu Price
Average price per cocktail $15
Address: Lower G/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Phone: +852 2703 1899
Thursday – Saturday: 5pm – 2am
Sunday – Wednesday: 5pm – 1am