A quartet of nightspots on the fringes of Lan Kwai Fong are reshaping Hong Kong’s cocktail scene.
By Nicholas Walton
Last year it was all about wine bars, thanks to a generous drop in wine duties. Now, Hong Kong’s nightlife scene is being shaken up by inventive mixologists. Forget pineapple and Midori coladas: the city’s best new clubs and lounges, all set around the periphery of Central’s Lan Kwai Fong strip, are fueling a cocktail revival.
One of life’s little pleasures is finding a spot like Le Boudoir before the masses. But you’ll have to be quick, because it won’t be long before this sultry basement space is thronging. Against a backdrop of burgundy wallpaper, gilded picture frames, crystal chandeliers, and velvet-cushioned bar stools, French mixologist Max Traverse has crafted a cocktail menu that emphasizes rare spirits and updated classics. Drinks to look out for include the Lucky Star, with Appleton rum, sugar, and absinthe; the Devil’s Rocks, with Jim Beam, fresh ginger, and Jerry Thomas bitters; and the Wyndham Delight, a tall cocktail packed with Zubrowka vodka, amaretto, fresh lime, apple juice, vanilla syrup, and mint (65 Wyndham St.; 852/2530-3870).
Hidden away on Glenealy Street beyond the crowds of Lan Kwai Fong bar-hoppers, Hush is nominally a private club, with memberships that start at HK$5,000 and a fingerprint scanner at the doorway. Fortunately, this modish little watering hole welcomes all comers, with a sassy, open attitude to match. Expect interiors awash in chrome, glass, and faux furs, as well as a sexy outdoor patio lit by tea candles. More to the point, Hush also features some of the city’s best molecular cocktails, including a grilled-lemon margarita and an Earl Grey tea martini (2 Glenealy St.; 852/2537-2281).
This newcomer to thriving Lyndhurst Terrace has a split personality: there’s a dark club downstairs, with a spacious dance floor and semi-private seating to the sides; and an upstairs lounge dubbed Loft, with an industrial warehouse-conversion feel, a couple of pool tables, and an outdoor terrace. The place gets packed out later in the night, but if you can make it past the wall of bouncers, sidle up to the bar and order one of the martinis made with American boutique gin Aviation, or the fruity Breda Blackout, with Red Bull, Passoã, and Pisang Ambon liqueur (2/F & 3/F, Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Ter; 852/2522-2186).
The latest opening on Wyndham Street, Rayne is a & chic nook that’s already popular with the crowds of black-suited after-fivers. Its location, near the junction with Lan Kwai Fong, puts you close to the action, and while semi-outdoor seating and good-looking clientele will draw you in, it’s the sensual interiors (created by Nude Design) and innovative cocktails by mixologist Alexandre Chatte that will keep you there long into the night. With a soundtrack of Afro-Latin house music and a lengthy wine list, Rayne is blessedly unpretentious, and bound to become an anchor for this fast-emerging street (Shop F, Yu Yuet Lai Bldg., 43–55 Wyndham St.; 852/2840-2955).
Originally appeared in the February/March 2011 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Toast of the Town”)