Top 5 Whisky Bars in Hong Kong
For a while, elaborate cocktails that bartenders painstakingly laboured over while you impatiently drummed your fingers on the bar were all the rage. Recently, however, we have noticed a new trend. Mono-beverage bars: wine bars and wine clubs are opening all over Central, there is a new champagne bar in Soho called Flutes opening in March; and more importantly for spirit-lovers, whisky bars.
Angel’s Share and Blck Brd are just two of the newest whisky bars to open in Hong Kong, yet the city has long played host to a number of whisky bars that range from trendy and casual to the utterly, strictly by invites-only ones.
Here, Asia Tatler Dining picks out not only the newest but also the best bars to indulge in your favourite single malt and the occasional indulgent cigar.
Angel's Share is one of the newest whisky bars in Hong Kong and it is opened by the people behind Tastings, the wine bar that introduced the Enomatic wine dispenser system that allows wine to be tasted by a glass or a thimble to Hong Kong. The group hopes to replicate their success with Angel’s Share, a bar that distinguishes itself by not only serving whisky in a glass, but also on the plate. The British-inspired menu features dishes that make use of the spirit such as whisky smoked salmon dip and mussels in a whisky coriander sauce. The drinks list includes over 100 whiskies from around the world and the centrepiece of the bar is a full-size oak barrel that contains 180 litres of a single cask Macallan 1990. Not a fan of that particular vintage? Not to worry, the barrel changes throughout the year to showcase different regions of Scotland.
2/F, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: +852 2805-8388.
If it’s a cosy gentleman’s club-like atmosphere you crave along with your single malt, then the secluded Chinnery in the Mandarin Oriental is the place for you. One of the first gastro-pubs in town (and still offering the best fish and chips and chicken makhani in Hong Kong), The Chinnery has a wall of whisky that, at last count comprised over 120 rare single-malt whiskies, making it not only the best in Hong Kong, but in Asia. We also love the whisky trails on offer here: like a wine flight, each trail offers tastes of five different whiskies that are enticing to both novices and connoisseurs. Bar manager Billy Lo recommends Irish whiskies such as Jameson and Bushmills for beginners as they carry a “light and smooth finish” while real whisky lovers will delight in their rare Lombard collection, worth their weight in gold as the distiller is no longer in existence.
1/F, Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central. Tel: +852 2825-4009.
Located in the heart of Wan Chai, The Pawn is not only a great example of an historic building put to modern functional use, but it is also home to a truly impressive selection of whisky. The list features ten whiskies from Islay alone, nearly twenty Highland malt whiskies, 15 Speyside malt whiskies, a Glen Flagler malt whisky from 1973, plus imported and blended whiskies. Those who enjoy chomping on a cigar while sipping their spirit will be ecstatic at The Pawn’s extensive selection including a 1988 Davidoff Dom Perignon and a 1950’s Ramon Allones White Ash No. 1, ideally paired with a Laguvulin malt whisky. Anthony Killip, the general manager, recommends his personal favourites as the 21-year old spicy Benromach “which has a wonderful orange, lemon and cedarwood taste”; the 1968 Benromach stored in sherry casks for its “sultanas and fruitcake taste”; and a 12-year Macallan with its flavours of “vanilla, ginger, sweet toffee and wood smoke” as a digestif.
62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai. Tel: +852 2866-3444.
Connoisseurs will be familiar with this exclusive, members-only bar in Causeway Bay, the bar that brought the perfect spherical ice cube (originally invented in Japan) to Hong Kong, not a surprise as the bar manager himself is from Tokyo. For those who drink their whisky on the rocks, the single spherical ice cube is key as they melt slower and dilute the spirit less, thanks to the minimized surface-area to volume ratio. The bar has several dozen varieties of whisky from Scotland, Ireland, America and more importantly, Japanese whiskies from Yamazaki and Yoichi for fans of the single-malt from the region.
27/F Bartlock Centre, 3 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: +852 2893-2080.
Chin Chin at the Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui is a bit of a hidden gem for whisky-lovers, especially those who revere Scottish whisky above all else. Among the 80-bottle strong collection are some truly exceptional single malts including a 30-year Balvenie; Glenfarcias 1968; Macallan Speymalt 1967; a classic Dalwhinnie 15 years Highland malt; and a 16-year Lagavullin. The bar itself is retro-Chinese in style, and many local patrons spend entire evenings here listening to the live band perform English, Cantonese and Mandarin classics.Lobby Level, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: +852 2311-7722.
Read more about one of Hong Kong’s newest whisky bar, Blck Brd, in the February 2011 issue of Hong Kong Tatler.