From glamorous speakeasies behind umbrella stores to the number-one bar in Asia – here’s our tried-and-true list of the best bars in Hong Kong.
Welcome to Hong Kong – a mixologist’s urban playground that boasts an unparalleled nightlife scene and several names in the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Watch as the sun sets behind Victoria Peak, casting a spell over the city and drawing urbanites into pulsing watering holes from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui. Relax and listen to smooth jazz with a Mahjong-inspired martini in hand or go to a place where no menu is needed. And when you see the daily Symphony of Lights show illuminate the city, hurry up – because Hong Kong is already dressed for the night.
Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour: doctor’s office-themed speakeasy
Walk downstairs from The Landmark Mandarin Oriental and enter the hidden ‘Consulting Room’ because Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour has just the concoction to take the pain away. The concept: a doctor’s office with herbaceous tinctures in the form of over 250 bottles of gin, served to you by white-coated barmen who are amusingly dedicated to the bit. Choose from the classics – a Botanist gin martini with lemon peel, a Kyro gin negroni or a simple gin and tonic – just what the doctor ordered.
Mostly Harmless: locally sourced omakase-style cocktails
Acclaimed bartender Ezra Star is exactly the mastermind you can trust to deliver a laidback omakase-style night out in Hong Kong. Translating from Japanese as ‘I’ll leave it up to you’, omakase encourages punters to go with the flow and try new things. Guests’ names and the night’s seasonal cocktail offerings are jovially scribbled with whiteboard markers on Mostly Harmless’ tiled back bar. This isn’t the over-the-top omakase experience you’ve come to fear. An intimate and approachable atmosphere is the goal here, and the locally sourced ingredients championed in fresh, unfussy cocktails are the standouts. Expect farm-to-glass drinks that change with the seasons, like a fermented mangosteen shell martini made with Lillet and Plymouth Gin.
Rajasthan Rifles: 1920’s military-themed, Anglo-Indian bar and restaurant
Rajasthan Rifles is an ode to the British-Indian army mess halls of the 1920s, complete with an armada of wait staff dressed as commanding officers and a wash of sepia tones that catapults guests to a bygone era. Stories of old refer to gin and whisky-filled nights, where British and Indian units mingled in the mess hall. Now, the cocktail menu honours the past with premium gin and tonics, whisky sodas and the refreshing Peach Shandy. With fragrant curries to savour alongside, there’s no better place to go AWOL.
Foxglove: glamorous ‘gentlemen’s club’ hidden in an umbrella store
Hong Kong loves a theme, and this swanky speakeasy is unlike any you’ve seen before. Make your way to the back of the Foxglove umbrella store and find the hidden lever, which will open the door to a sultry cocktail bar reminiscent of a London gentlemen’s club. The interiors story the travels of a fictional globetrotting Englishman, and each room is committed to immersing you in the fantasy. One space is modelled after a luxury ship, another an airport lobby, and there is even a secret VIP room. Martinis are prepared tableside from a vintage bar cart, shaken or stirred to your preference.
DarkSide: multi-award-winning iconic Hong Kong jazz bar
Bar director Simone Rossi has created a winning recipe for the highly acclaimed DarkSide. Remain seated in a velvety corner as the smell of vintage cigars, the sound of smooth live jazz and the taste of rare, aged spirits envelop your senses. The drinks list is extensive, ranging from sophisticated dark spirits dating to the 19th century to tantalising classics like the 'breakfast martini', made with orange marmalade. The newly curated ‘Art of Mahjong’ menu also offers a series of artful cocktails inspired by the game, served in handcrafted glassware and ceramics from local vendors.
Argo: opulent hotel bar with an extensive spirit collection
Argo, located in the glamorous Four Seasons Hotel, is armed with an artillery of awards and accolades, including the third spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, but the atmosphere remains decisively friendly. The innards are opulent and eclectic – think mirrored walls adorned with winged bugs in gilded frames, and an illuminated back bar holstering a cultivated spirit collection. Peruse the 'Field Guide to the World's Innovative Spirits' and take your pick from Argo’s world-class offerings, including its very-own signature gin, a lab-made whisky and other unique bottles.
Kuromaru: Japanese shochu and vinyl listening bar
Shochu and awamori are intimately connected to Japanese heritage, and notoriously difficult to mix into a great cocktail – but at Kuromaru they are championed in all their flavourful glory. The spirits are balanced in retro recipes like the awamori-based Nostalgia – a coconut water and banana highball – and elevated in classics like the rich espresso orange martini. The venue is atmospheric, enriched by silky vinyl music across two dimly lit rooms, with bar and booth seating available.
Stay at the nearby Grand Hyatt Hong Kong for quick dips into this moody destination.
COA: tequila-lover's heaven, named #1 Bar in Asia
The number one bar in Asia (for two years running) draws its inspiration from Mexico. COA is a place of worship for all things agave and the Mexican goddess associated with the plant, Mayahuel, can be found watching over patrons from hand-drawn murals on candlelit industrial walls. Tequila lovers have found a sanctuary here, being the first dedicated agave bar in Hong Kong. Guests can pick from an innovative menu featuring drinks like a salted plum and chilli Ancho highball and a paloma with Oaxacan mezcal.
Old Man: experimental Ernest Hemmingway-themed cocktail bar
Old Man has dedicated its theme to the late and great author and cocktail connoisseur Ernest Hemingway. Seating is arranged around a capital ‘I’-shaped bar with a cooling strip of gold keeping the drinks chilled at its centre – a suitably opulent setting for the exquisite menu. The cocktails are incredibly refined with exotic ingredients like mangosteen tequila liqueur and aerated stout cream infused with carnauba wax. Standouts include the 'dangerous summer' with kiwi bourbon and mango curd topped with liquorice salt – we imagine Hemingway would have approved.
Dara: fruity Filipino cocktails and traditional food
Every element of Dara is a love letter to the Philippines. The wood used for the tables comes from trees fallen during typhoons, and cocktails feature local ingredients from across the archipelago like hibiscus and calamansi lime. Classic recipes come with Filipino flare like the pandan negroni and grassroots paloma featuring in-house greens. The family-owned establishment is warm, elegant and friendly, and is also a restaurant, so you’d miss out if you left without ordering the pork sisig or palabok.
Feature image courtesy of DarkSide bar.
Find our collection of Hong Kong stays here.
Looking for more inspiration? Read An Insider’s Guide to Hong Kong, with Diana Chan.