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State of the bar in Hong Kong

So... I finally visited Christofer here in Hong Kong. It has been too long (and too long just local vacation with some rare exceptions in Dubai).

HK was one of my choices to visit, not only because its coolness, but also because of its bar culture.
It is very difficult to rate bar culture from afar. Often it is more the state of marketing than the real quality of the bar - hence experience s a very important part of making yourself the picture.

So I went to a couple of the more advanced places and know now more.

Antonio Lai seems to be here hugely successful, and he seems to just hit the sweet spot between mass compatibility and advanced mixing technique. I visited one of his “outposts” Quinary. It seems, that he is the closest, what a bartender/mixology could come to a celebrity chef. The cocktails were good - I had a carbonated drink (Perlini) with lemongrass redistilled gin. I think this was the most innovative technique I have seen. And it worked - the lemongrass was bright and zesty, far better than any infusion I have ever tasted. I was just curious, why he just redistilled gin, and didn’t just flavored vodka and made his own gin??

Otherwise the cocktails were inventive, though at times a bit unbalanced and partly just copies of “molecular recipes” you could have found a couple of years ago in leading US bars.
The atmosphere was pretty good - typical cocktail bar - but the portfolio was strangely “peasant” - in a city, which has a ton of importers, it seems an odd choice to go for Jack Daniel’s, Tanqueray and Bacardi.
Otherwise the staff was cool - maybe a bit hipster one-dimensional. No real complaints.

Chachawan is a Thai bar. They are using quinine syrup instead of tonic water - cool. Otherwise they do good drinks, with an adequate reduced spirit portfolio. It has more the attitude of a neighborhood bar, though with serious quality of the drinks.

Pontiac was a bar, which I found pretty surprising. Think a dive bar, which has really a great booze portfolio and really proper cocktails. It is small, it is often raucous, loud music ranging from pop to death metal. Not necessary my favorite place - but good quality nonetheless. Unfortunately they don’t really pushing the limits.

A completely different bar was Bar de Luxe - a Japanese place - a hidden place (without any gadgets - just within a business building, without any signage... you really have to know, where to go) - very reduced and refined. No gimmicks, not tricks (besides of ice balls / and carved ice cubes).
This bar had an amazing selection of Japanese whisky. Good quality cocktails - though nothing really cutting edge.

Last bar, I have been to was Stockton. Also pretty speak easy (again no gadget, but again, you really need to know, where to go). This bar had a lot of atmosphere... dark wood, dim light with candles on the tables. Food was good... but rather pub style. Cocktail were whimsical and contemporary... but again not really anything, which really pushes the envelope.

Compared to Dubai, there are more good and contemporary bars. But comparing bar to bar, Hong Kong doesn’t (yet) has anything to offer, which totally surprises you. I would see it as opportunity...

Overall I was surprised about the great level of spirits there are available. A lot of bars have got a selection of Michter’s Bourbon/Rye, which is delicious and affordable. Gin is also pretty much a trend - you can find a lot of good gins here.


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