Girls in flapper dresses sipping gin martinis, boys in bowties puffing on cigars, the jazz band kicking it up a notch until the dancefloor’s filled with bobbing feathered headdresses and flying strands of pearls… Is there any era more heartstoppingly glam than the roaring twenties? Of course, the Prohibition was in full force but with a little help from rum runners and Al Capone, cocktails were still on the menu – they just had to be wrapped in brown paper bags and cunningly concocted to mask the taste of illegal alcohol…
As Al Capone once said, “Prohibition caused nothing but trouble”. Well, actually there’s nothing we like more than a little bit of trouble… and if you do too, then we feel it’s our duty to introduce you to a new star on the Hong Kong speakeasy scene. A Thursday night drinking spot with a little Great Gatsby sparkle… Step up the W Hong Kong’s Vintage Cocktail Night, which happens every Thursday at WOOBAR.
To us lazy islanders, rather ridiculously, the suggestion of crossing to “the other side” for a drink can go down like a suggestion of going to the Moon for tea. In our experience, one of the few anomalies to this rule is the WOOBAR, which seems a universal fave. From the space disco elevator ride up to the bar to the sleek retro-mod décor encased by floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows, the WOOBAR just has something a bit special.
While we’re sure that this uber-cool party hotel is already a firm fixture in your little black book of HK hotspots, Vintage Cocktail Night gives you the perfect excuse to kick off the weekend’s hedonism a little early – an excuse we didn’t need to have suggested to us twice!
Arriving thirsty and straight from the office, my friend and I were swiftly escorted to a window-side pair of lipstick red armchairs, where we happily perused the drinks list… And what a list it is! The menu has been designed by mixologist magicians and WOOBAR managers, Joao Rodrigues and Joe Villanueva, with a little help from the winner of the fourth Global Diageo Reserve World Class bartender of the year, Tim Philips. Each drink uses a vintage cocktail recipe as its base but has been given a 2013 edge with a little WOOBAR shake-up.
We kicked off proceedings with a couple of deadly but delicious Bianco Gimlets – Don Julio Bianco, fresh pineapple, Tabasco, fresh lime juice, sugar syrup and virgin olive oil. The perfect mix of sugar and spice… and in a few short sips, we’d drained our glasses.
Channelling Daisy Buchanan, we decided to forego the snack option and continue the liquid diet with round two. We moved on to a pair of Guatemalan eggnogs which we may or may not have ordered because we saw one delivered to a neighbouring table complete with a piece of chocolate-dipped biscotti! Sweet incentives aside, this was love at first sip. An alcoholic milkshake heaven, this was basically Christmas in a cup!
Much gossip and another couple of Bianco Gimlets later, we decided that we had one final cocktail in us, finishing up with one Moscow Mule (that stalwart mix of vodka, lime juice and ginger beer) and one Bijou (a more adventurous potent concoction from the 1900s of gin, chartreuse and bitters). The latter was served beautifully garnished with a hand-carved slither of orange rind but was a little punchy for our delicate 21st century palates.
Meanwhile, our Moscow Mule arrived in a pewter mug with a sprig of rosemary serving as a swizzle stick; it was refreshingly delicious whilst packing a zingy punch from the homemade ginger beer. Glasses dry and all chatted out, we declared ourselves well and truly tipsy and in need of a Star Ferry to whisk us home. It had been a perfect evening of cocktails and catch-up; despite the certainty that our heads would feel a little fuzzy the next day, we left plotting Vintage Cocktails Round two!
They say that nothing tastes better than forbidden fruit. Well, we’d say that whilst that’s certainly true, it’s even better juiced in a martini glass along with a good shot of contraband liquor…
Free-flow wine and cheese more your thing? Check out our review of WOOBAR’s Wine-derlust Wednesdays here!
Vintage Cocktail Night is hosted at the WOOBAR every Thursday from 8-10.30pm. It costs $258 (including six vintage cocktails and standard drinks) or $298 (including six vintage cocktails and tapas snacks), plus 10% service charge.
WOOBAR W Hong Kong, Kowloon Station, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon
3717 2889 www.woobarhongkong.com
Check out Natalie’s blog for all things food, fashion and fun, 3 Bad Mice.