Quirky cocktails

Weekend Glitz | Katie Hung 22 Feb 2019

There's never a problem knowing where to go when looking for after-work drinks. New bars and novelty mixes guarantee alcohol enthusiasts will always have a good time.

Recently opened The ThirtySix Bar & Co, at 23 Hollywood Street, keeps it simple by concentrating on highballs of traditional cocktails and non-alcoholic mixers. "In the age of expressionism in cocktails, we have reached a peak, with innovative glasses, provocative garnishing and way too many ingredients going into drinks," owner Philippe Nguyen said. "I want to go back to the classics with a maximum of three to five ingredients and the highball represents old time classic cocktails perfectly."

The Highlander (HK$140), for example, is a typical highball option, marrying 10-year-old BenRiach whiskey with soda. The water, which is infused with champagne-like bubbles, is also house-made.

"Compared to off-the-shelf sodas that come with big bubbles, our soda will bring about enough texture without distracting the palate so guests can discover its many highlights of the main spirit," Nguyen said.

The classic B for Mayor's Boilermaker (HK$120) is recommended. Blending in Becherovka herbal liqueur, Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon and thyme syrup, it blends in a complex flavor with beer foam added on top for extra sweetness and a hint of fresh lemon juice.

Beer on tap is nothing new but what about cocktails on tap? Over at 63 Wyndham Street, Draft Land, which first opened in Taipei last year, uses the Draft System, a distillery system that injects nitrogen or carbon dioxide into beverages.

Draft Land offers 24 different flavors on tap on a rotational basis and all is garnish-free. A signature drink, Soju Martini (HK$120), incorporating Korean distilled beverage soju, sherry and pandan, is smooth with a light nuttiness from the sherry.

Beer-lovers should opt for the Rum Stout (HK$100). Combining alcohols of dark rum and Porter beer with black tea and pandan, it has a creamy finish with rich fruity flavors. Those who prefer an even simpler mix can try the Silver Fizz (HK$90), an infusion of gin, dill and citrus only.

There are also some spirit-free options, such as Hibiscus Fizz (HK$70) with honey, soda, pineapple and hibiscus, as well as ginger lemonade (HK$70). Enjoy some street-food-style bites with meaty plates like "char-siu" pork neck (HK$100), to fries, and a vegetarian bowl (HK$60 each).

Elsewhere at 25 Staunton Street, The Wise King is putting a Spanish spin on the new #Revived cocktail menu by including Spanish ingredients. The Jamon Old Fashioned (HK$118) is a harmonious blend of Jamon Iberico bourbon, cantaloupe syrup and walnut bitters, paired with a garnish of dry-cured Spanish ham.

As for traditional white-grape Spanish alcohol sherry, the pre-meal aperitif is transformed to the gin-based Brined Rickey (HK$118) of which includes a salty strawberry soda with fresh basil leaves, citrus and a sherry vinaigrette.

Recently joining the city's cocktail scene is the pizza specialty Kytaly, which has rolled out a brand new cocktail program of 10 drinks (HK$108 each).

London dry gin lovers might prefer Martiniano, a sweet mixture including Mancino vermouth and Japanese wakamomo peaches while the vodka-based Tifata, with tomato water and basil, is more refreshing.

Or sip on the enhanced version of bellini, Bellissimo, for a lavender bubbly treat.

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