World Cocktail Day: The 5 Bars To Visit In Hong Kong
May 13 marks the passing of World Cocktail Day, which commemorates the first time that the word 'cocktail' was published—specifically, in the New York tabloid paper, The Balance and Columbian Repository, in 1806. Defined as "a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters", the cocktail has come a long way since then in the intervening 215 years. Here, we've rounded up five bars to celebrate the birth of the cocktail at this year.
1/5 MO Bar
In anticipation of Art Basel later this month, MO Bar at Landmark Mandarin Oriental is launching the Art Aperitivo menu for the duration of May. Designed by PDT head bartender Kervin Unido, the four cocktails are all inspired and named after lesser-known works by historically significant artists: for example, the Purple Collin (butterfly pea-infused Belvedere, Italicus, earl grey tea syrup, soda) was inspired by Shepard Fairey's mural of Nelson Mandela titled The Purple Shall Govern, while the Convergence (blue curaçao, crème de menthe, cacao liqueur, cream) takes its name from a canvas by Jackson Pollock.
All four cocktails can be had as part of the Art Aperitivo set for HK$712, accompanied by art-inspired bites created by chef Kay Ng such as lobster filo tart with spicy lobster mayonnaise filling, mini Impossible burgers, and organic crudités with avocado, sour cream and tomato. Alternatively, the four cocktails can be swapped out for a bottle of R&L Legras Brut Champagne for HK$999.
2/5 The Pontiac
Just in time for World Cocktail Day, the team at The Pontiac has unveiled a brand new cocktail menu that was inspired by wordplay around Cold War-era concepts, in true punk rock style. The 11 cocktails are all making their debut this month, save for the Hobnail, a riff on the Penicillin cocktail that has been around since the bar's opening.
There's the Shells and Cigarettes, which is a milk-clarified take on the Long Island Iced Tea that utilises sustainable spirits from ecoSPIRITS and is topped off with a Coke float; the Starting Gun (Applewood Coral gin, pear eau de vie, salted hibiscus-dill syrup, soda) whose name is a nod to the French 75 cocktail—which itself was named after a WWI-era cannon; the Sound & Fury Slushie, where Neonotic Szechuan vanilla cider is frozen and blended with bangerang and a blend of rum; and the High Tide Martini, a collaboration with Okra's Max Levy that builds upon Widges gin with dashi dry vermouth, wormwood tincture and pickled celery for an Asian interpretation of the Gibson.
Founder Beckaly Franks is particularly proud of the menu's artwork which, in the spirit of inclusivity and creative empowerment, was painted by up-and-coming Indian artist Riya Chandiramani and incorporates references to all of the cocktails scattered throughout.
The Pontiac, 13 Old Bailey Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2521 3855
The Ritz-Carlton's sky-high cocktail bar is revamping its Five Elements cocktail menu (HK$138 each) with new liquid interpretations. First up is Fire, a smoky, mezcal-based sipper with sous-vide jalapeño, mango nectar and elderflower liqueur; then Metal, a mix of Italicus, Beefeater gin, lemon oleo saccharum and jasmine kombucha presented in a metallic vessel; the saline Water, blending ecoSPIRITS Plantation rum with sous-vide salted plum, clarified grapefruit juice and umami bitters; Earth, which derives its complexity from chioggia beetroot-infused pisco, Cynar, taro, pineapple, coconut cream and coriander bitters; and finally, Wood, a negroni-inspired drink utilising Bulleit bourbon, Mr. Black coffee amaro, Mancino rosso vermouth, Campari and Fernet Branca, all of which is barrel-aged for three months.
To pair with these libations, Ozone will also be presenting a Five Elements afternoon tea (HK$298 including one cocktail), for which each element has a corresponding savoury treat. Earth, for example, involves Ozone's signature mini mushroom wagyu beef burger, while Water is a scallop ceviche painted blue using butterfly pea and blueberry.
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To celebrate its debut on this year's Asia's 50 Best Bars list, Darkside at Rosewood Hong Kong is offering a limited-time cocktail menu that brings together creations by each member of the bartending team. Each is a creative evolution of a classic formula: bar captain Ashish Rana's A 800 Days Journey is a negroni that swaps out gin for Plantation dark rum and adds balsamic chocolate; while bartender Heather Cheng's Blood And Sweet combines the martini with a Bloody Mary using Roku gin, Mancino Secco, tomato consommé and calendula cordial. Available until May 16, don't miss out on these creations from Darkside's talented team.
5/5 La Rambla
Those who prefer to kick back with a G&T and views of the harbour have a seat waiting for them at La Rambla, which is now serving Tanqueray G&Ts from a specialised cart. Five varieties are available, from the Ten Temptations, using a base of Tanqueray Ten with orange, lime and Tanqueray bitters; to the Malecconade, building upon Tanqueray Malacca with mint and lemonade. The Gin & Tapas is a tantalising deal too, pairing a G&T with jamón croquettes for HK$110.
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