Hong Kong is a city that’s evolving at quantum speed. In terms of drinking in the former British Dependent Territory, traditions like tea service and medicinal tonics remain, and newer trends like craft beer, specialty coffee and cocktails are taking root with residents. Here are 8 places you should absolutely drink in Hong Kong, based on my trip from October 30-November 4.
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Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference. Establishments also appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
No, the name doesn’t riff on the “binary solo” in the Flight of the Conchords’ song, “The Humans are Dead.” Instead, 001 honors the bar’s designation as Hong Kong’s first speakeasy. Enter Masayuki Uchida’s bar through an unmarked door off an alley that houses a wet market and find black walls and bar, tables and booths featuring green cushioned seating, and a menu devoted to both ORIGINAL and CLASSICS.
Aziz Ansari immortalized the Midnight Manhattan in The Getaway, and it’s worth ordering, but don’t sleep on The Joker, a wild card cocktail that changes daily. During my visit, that meant a Blood and Sand and Manhattan love child that combined Singleton Scotch, Carpano Antica vermouth, dry Curacao, orange juice, frothy egg white, cinnamon flake and a lemon peel garnish. My bartender called the drink “Where Sand Meets Sky,” the bartender being Sky.
MUST ORDER: The Joker, Midnight Manhattan
2. Espresso Alchemy (4-6 Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay)
Melbourne native Peter Law is an accomplished Q Grader and World Barista Championship Sensory Judge who set up shop in residential North Point, near the Quarry Bay MTR station and right next to a McDonald’s McCafé. The coffee choice is clear on this block thanks to Alchemy’s carefully roasted beans and small, inviting space with dark wood tables, shelves of Mason jars, and high quality equipment, including a three-group Expobar espresso machine from Spain, paired with a Mazzer grinder, and V60 pourover, paired with a Fuji Royal grinder. The logo represents four primary elements you’ll find in coffee: milk, essence, sugar and water. I like the way Law sets up the menu, with hot coffee either strong, mild (no milk), less milk, more milk or sweet. If all goes well in Quarry Bay, Law plans to open a second shop in Tin Hau.
MUST ORDER: Piccolo Latte, Espresso, Hot and Thick (chocolate drink)
3. The Globe (Garley Building, 45-53A Graham Street, Central
Toby Cooper hails from England’s Lake District, serves as head of the The Craft Beer Association of Hong Kong, and runs what is widely considered the city’s top craft beer bar, which promises, “Real Food. Real Beer. Real People.” The Globe started on Hollywood Road and relocated in time for New Year’s Eve, 2009. Now the beer hall has a rectangular wood bar, communal tables, colorful artwork, and a menu with British undertones. The Globe has 12 taps (going on 18) and over 150 bottles, with a program that’s embraced the influx of Italian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese beers. Cooper also schedules special promotions, including an Evil Twin & Mikkeller tap takeover, a Belgian Beer Festival, and a Winter warmers showcase. Really though, there’s no bad time to drink craft beer at The Globe.
MUST ORDER: Craft Beer
This open-air shop has been operating since 1916, specializing in Chinese herbs, herbal teas, and healthy consultation. If you need bitter 24 Varieties Herbal Tea to reduce body heat or or Sweet Flower Tea for hydration, this is the place to come. They’ve also got drawers and jars full of fine herbs, and even have an abacus to calculate costs, though the owners have also adopted the calculator, a rare concession to modernity.
MUST ORDER: Sweet Flower Tea