“Passion is the most essential ingredient for success. You have to love what you are doing. It is also about hard work and luck. Some people work hard but do not have the chance to shine, and the contrary. You have to prepare for any challenges and opportunities that come your way if and when it comes.”
Antonio’s Favourite Bars in Hong Kong
Our Urban Explorer, Mixologist Extraordinaire and Co-founder of Tastings Group Mr. Antonio Lai is no stranger when it comes to the booming night life scene in Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo. Having launched some of the most renowned bars in the city like Quinary, ORI-GIN and ROOM 309, his discerning taste for fine cocktails is one that we certainly trust. As the intellect behind the concoction of some truly mesmerizing multi-sensory cocktails in the city, we will drink up anything he makes. That is why we jumped at the chance of asking him what his Top 10 Favourite Bars in Hong Kong are. He gave us 11!
1. The Old Man
Antonio: They are at the top of this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars list and their cocktails are innovative. It is very experimental and when you go there, you can be sure to experience something completely different.
Page Hotels: Taking inspiration from American novelist Ernest Hemmingway’s literary works and favourite drinks, spirits and flavours, it is no surprise the bar named itself after Hemmingway’s 1952 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Old Man and The Sea”. The cocktails here are absolutely one-of-a-kind, utilizing novel ingredients and rotovap distillation technology that extracts the unique essence of unique ingredients like Gruyère cheese without the chunks. The Old Man is a bar to try when in Hong Kong.
Antonio: It is a tequila and mezcal-focused bar in NoHo. If you enjoy these spirits, you’ll find the taste of their cocktails very unique and refreshing.
Page Hotels: This Mexican-inspired craft cocktail bar offers the largest agave collection in the city, with approximately 200 bottles. The bar is named after a tool used for harvesting the agave plant. Its dim lighting and tucked-away location under a basement provides a warm and cozy environment for you to unwind and get away from life’s daily stresses.
Antonio: I would recommend this hidden bar to any out-of-town guests so they can experience the boys’ club-style cocktails.
Page Hotels: The cool chic vibes of Stockton is just as enjoyable as the environment. Embellished with antique art and furniture sourced from Les Puces flea market in Paris, the restaurant and bar has an air of nostalgic sophistication to it. You will have to make a visit yourself to see just exactly what we are talking about.
Antonio: The live jazz band and delicious cocktails in this joint create an energetic yet chill ambiance, perfect for a Friday or Saturday evening hang.
Page Hotels: Upon stepping into this chic restaurant and bar decorated with elegant umbrellas encased in glass, you will find yourself instantly transported into an installment of the Kingsman movie. A feel of modern British gentleman, Foxglove is nestled comfortably on Duddle Street where the more sophisticated crowd hangs, away from the bustling Lan Kwai Fong district.
5. Please Don’t Tell
Antonio: A frequented speak-easy at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, you can try their stylish cocktails behind a hidden telephone booth inside the MO Bar.
Page Hotels: Hailing from New York, this “bar within a bar” features creative cocktails developed by renowned mixologists Jim Meehan, Jeff Bell and their talented bar team led by Adam Schmidt. The 25-seater hidden bar has some of the tastiest drinks on the scene, and pairs nicely with some light bar bites designed by two Michelin-starred Chef Richard Ekkebus. If you don’t plan to visit New York anytime soon, then head on over to PDT to get your New York-inspired cocktail fix.
6. Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour
Antonio: Another creative speak-easy with a unique concept, there is a selection of over 300 gins for you to try.
Page Hotels: A trip to the doctor is an order in our books! This whimsical, posh bar hidden inside Landmark mall blends together fine gin with aromatic botanicals in vibrant teacups that are said to be daily concoctions that cure all of your ailments. From its unique cocktails infused with fruits and vegetables from the garden to its lush green interiors, Dr. Fern is the one doctor we will keep coming back to.
Antonio: Whether you’re a fan of gin or not, you should visit ORI-GIN to try one of our gin cocktails embellished with our signature rubber ducky.
Page Hotels: As the first gin-focused bar in Hong Kong, ORI-GIN does a sensational job of creating truly innovative and refreshing drinks by utilizing modern culinary equipment and methods that enhance the gin drinking experience. The mixologist prepares its infused gins in-house using a technique that allows them to extract the essence of all types of foods before blending them into its drinks.
8. Draft Land HK
Antonio: At Draft Land Hong Kong, you can try all 22 different cocktails on tap. This is the perfect place for a casual drink with friends after a long day.
Page Hotels: This unique “cocktails on tap” concept first sprung onto the bar scene in Taipei by Taiwanese mixologist Angus Zou. With much success in Taiwan, Antonio Lai partnered with Angus to bring this concept over to Hong Kong. The cocktails at Draft Land need not any kind of garnish or presentation; its spectrum of innovative flavours and refreshing taste speak for itself. What we love about this bar is that drinkers can sample a cocktail from the barrel before ordering a full glass. So take your time and try a few before settling on a drink!
9. ROOM 309
Antonio: Head on over to ROOM 309 to enjoy an intimate experience with yours truly while you revel in our invisible cocktails.
Page Hotels: Tucked inside The Pottinger Hotel, this secret not-so-secret hidden gem provides a subdued and exclusive atmosphere. To get in, customers must go next door to The Envoy to request a key card at the reception and be shown the magic door to this sweet escape. Every cocktail is infused with such rich and distinct flavours yet each drink is completely transparent, like its Crystal Old Fashioned, a cocktail made up of re-distilled peanut butter bourbon, banana concentrate, and homemade wood chips bitters.
Antonio: When you are here, you definitely have to order our signature Earl Grey Caviar Martini. Our best seller, the cocktail comprises of a mixture of sweet and sour taste with cucumber, red apple juice, lemon juice, and elderflower cordial topped with Earl Grey tea caviar and Earl Grey tea air.
Page Hotels: Coined one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, Quinary brings forth a truly unique multi-sensory drinking experience that plays with different aromas and textures. This renowned establishment features everything from old school classics to refreshingly modern cocktails that showcase Antonio Lai’s exquisite taste and careful attention to detail. Quinary is definitely at the top of our list.
11. VEA Restaurant & Lounge
Antonio: For a late night dessert, you can pair VEA’s Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich with our classic Mango Pomelo drink, inspired by the vibrant local street food scene of Hong Kong. The Bone Marrow Old Fashioned, bone marrow bourbon with rich syrup and Angostura bitters, is another great drink to top off your evening.
Page Hotels: VEA Restaurant & Lounge stands for Vicky et Antonio, referring to Chef Vicky Cheng and Mixologist Antonio Lai. This Michelin-starred French fine dining restaurant and lounge is renowned for its delicious cocktails as much as it is for their culinary delights. You can pair one of their finest dishes with their exceptionally tasty cocktails made from novel ingredients like Chinese mustard and bone marrow brother, an extraordinary gastronomy adventure that you must try at least once in your lifetime!