Quinary is a progressive cocktail bar located in Hong Kong‘s Mid-Levels, not far from the world’s longest covered escalator. The name Quinary refers to a bygone number system and is also designed to bring to mind (and trigger) the five senses. Antonio Lai and business partner Charlene Dawes churn out playful drinks using lab equipment like a Rotavapor and centrifuge that enable them to layer on many more textures than a typical bar. One of Lai’s signature drinks has become the Earl Grey Caviar Martini ($129HK ~ $18), featuring aromatic Earl Grey tea, which touts aromatic bergamot oil.
At Quinary, Lai treats the tea with sodium alginate, producing tiny bursting beads reminiscent of boba. Cucumber, lemon juice, apple juice, elderflower syrup, and Absolut Citron also factor into the cocktail, along with “a bit of Cointreau.” He shakes and strains the results into a large, long-stem coupe, aka an “elegant martini glass.” Lai finishes the drink with airy Earl Grey foam made with soy lecithin. His instructions to people who order the martini: “Lick it and then suck it.” Yes, Lai may make modern drinks, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.