Some days you really need something out of the ordinary to remind you why living in the 852 is one big ol’ adventure. Just because we love people-watching street side, or taking in the views from a rooftop terrace, doesn’t mean we don’t seek some sparkle, mystery or an out-of-the-ordinary experience. Lurking down alleyways, behind thick curtains, or up spiral staircases are Hong Kong’s speakeasies and hidden bars. Finding them is an adventure in itself, so get moving!
A hidden gem within The Landmark, Dr.Fern’s is an absolute must for gin lovers. Using organic and locally sourced ingredients and botanicals, and only premium gin, Dr. Fern’s cocktails are sure to cure any ailment. Tucked away in corner, two tiny office doors – one full-sized and one Alice in Wonderland-style –are all that hint to the doctor’s office behind. It also whips up daily seasonal cocktails, and if you can’t decide what to go for, the doctor is always on hand to prescribe the perfect tincture.
Sassy tip: Dr. Fern’s also offers amazing coffee and tea-time sets.
Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour, Shop B31A, First Basement Floor, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, www.drfernshk.com
Doctor’s hours: Sunday – Thursday, 2pm-1am; Friday – Saturday, 2pm-2am
If you don’t know what you’re looking for as you walk along Sheung Wan’s Pound Lane, it’s easy to walk straight past Mrs. Pound. Because, unless you have a particular interest in Chinese stamps, you would never know this was a bar and restaurant. But one of the stamps decorating the outside wall (hint: it’s the wooden one!) opens a sliding door into the treasure trove that is Mrs. Pound, where you’ll find fuchsia walls and booths, and retro 60s pinup wall art. This neighbourhood bar serves up Asian street food favourites alongside an intriguing selection of cocktails.
Sassy tip: Did we mention it throws one of the best brunches in town, complete with a legendary Bloody Mary bar? Also, the avocado fries are a must-have!
Mrs. Pound, 6 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.mrspound.com
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 12pm-11pm; Friday – Saturday, 12pm-1am; Brunch and Bloody Mary Station: Saturday & Sunday, 12pm – 3pm
Hidden behind what appears to be an umbrella store on Duddell Street, Foxglove oozes old-school luxury and charm. With live jazz on Tuesday to Saturday nights, a decadent menu with European and Japanese flavours and a refined atmosphere, this is the place for dapper gentlemen and elegant ladies looking for something a bit more exclusive.
Foxglove, GF, 18 Ice House Street/ 6 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.foxglovehk.com
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 1am; Friday, 12pm – 3:30pm, 5pm – 3am; Saturday, 5pm – 3am; Closed on Sunday
Concealed down a dark alleyway and off Wyndham Street, Maximal Concepts’ Stockton is a dark, broody and sophisticated whiskey bar. This secluded spot oozes old-world glamour, with dim lighting, vintage furniture, intriguing antiques and tucked-away private corners. Not only does Stockton offer specially crafted cocktails and a selection of high quality whiskey, it has a regular roster of live music acts (follow Stockton on Facebook to be one of the first to know about its themed nights)
Sassy tip: When walking down Wyndham, look out for the hanging lightbulb – you’ve found the alleyway to Stockton!
Stockton, 32 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.stockton.com.hk
Hours: Monday – Wednesday, 6pm – 2am; Thursday – Saturday, 6pm – 4am; Closed on Sunday
Without any signage and only an easy-to-miss doorbell signalling you’re at the right place, 001 is well worth the hunt – it’s known for making some of the best cocktails in town. A friend described finding it like this: “Go through the vegetable market, behind a pile of trash, and when you think you are too close to QRC, you’re close.” Or, more accurately, walk down Wellington Street, turn on Graham Street (toward Queen’s Road Central) and look for the dark door on your right. There are no windows, just the aforementioned doorbell that you ring to be let in. A throwback to 1930’s New York, this concealed and mysterious speakeasy offers clandestine wining and dining, a refined food and beverage menu, and the sultry sounds of classic jazz.
Sassy tip: This is where you can find one of the best grilled cheese in town!
001, Graham Street,Central District, Hong Kong
Hours: Monday, 6pm – 1am; Tuesday – Thursday, 6pm – 2am; Friday, 6pm – 3am; Saturday, 7pm – 3am; Closed on Sunday
Tucked away on Peel Street, Nocturne is an understated, Japanese-inspired whiskey bar. The bare concrete walls and minimalist décor add to its mysterious vibe and hidden-gem appeal, and the whiskey selection is as enormous as you’d expect, with over 100 different types on offer. Think soft jazz, dim lights and a vibe that makes you want to stick around for another drink, Nocturne is the perfect place for conversations that last long into the twilight hours.
Sassy tip: Nocturne also has three unique whiskey tasting sets to choose from.
Nocturne, 35 Peel Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong, www.nocturnehk.com
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 1am; Closed on Sunday
Mizunara is a welcome respite from the Ladies Night specials and sports bars that Lockhart Road is (in)famous for. One of the few hidden bars with an outdoor terrace, Mizunara is a celebration of all things Japanese; from the peaceful terrace garden, to the furniture made from Japanese Oak Wood (Mizunara), and the use of natural, minimalist materials – think glass, solid timber and rich leather. Its bar boasts over 700 different types of whiskey, making it an absolute haven for the whiskey connoisseur, and the talented barmen are known for creating refined cocktails that showcase distinctive Japanese flavours and qualities.
Mizunara, The Library, Fourth Floor of Kiu Yin Commercial Building, 361-363 Lockhart Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, www.mizunarathelibrary.com
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6pm – 3am (last order at 2:00 a.m.); Closed on Sunday
If it’s a classic speakeasy you’re seeking, this whiskey bar will be right up your alley. Decorated with polished concrete, exposed lightbulbs, and wood and leather finishings, I Know John is all about a cool, industrial vibe. Offering more than your average cocktail, I Know John serves a specially curated selection of high-end whiskeys and wines, and its expert mixologists are skilled in the art of creative cocktails. It even serves house-made bottled cocktails – perfect for washing down one of its speciality hot dogs or a plate of charcuterie and cheese. If you’re looking to escape the chaos of LKF and try something a little more memorable, I Know John is the place to go.
I Know John, 9/F, The Loop, 33 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.iknowjohn.hk
Hours: Monday – Wednesday, 5pm-12:30am; Thursday, 5pm – 1am; Friday & Saturday, 5pm-2:30am; Closed on Sunday
Located just beyond the Wan Chai Wednesday circuit, you’ll have to nip into an alleyway to find this refreshingly laid back bar (look for the wall of lovers’ locks and you’re golden). You can expect effortless ambiance with purple mood lights, repurposed vintage furniture and even a cheeky splash of jungle themed wallpaper (from Hermès, the manager told us proudly). With couches, bar seating and a few tables in the alley, Djiboutii is both effortless and edgy, and that’s what makes it so damn cool. Djiboutii is everything you’d want from an after work hangout; a laid back vibe, dangerously delicious drinks and a team with no shortage of charm.
Djiboutii, G/F, 2 Landale Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/Djiboutiihk
Hours: Monday – Wednesday, 12pm – 1am; Thursday – Friday, 12pm – 3am; Saturday, 5pm – 3am; Closed on Sunday
Find a small red door with the words “Ping Pong City” inscribed in Chinese, and you will have found the ever popular Ping Pong 129 Gintonería. This old ping pong supply store has been transformed and updated into an incredible Spanish gin and tonic bar. Down the concrete steps, you’ll find the ‘living room’, where the concrete walls, low lighting and living room atmosphere are at once hip and inviting, and the combination of Mediterranean influence and Kong Kong nostalgia works beautifully. Ping Pong has one of the most comprehensive lists of gins from all over the world, and their menu now features rare and premium gins new to the Hong Kong market and exclusive to PP129.
Sassy tip: Check out the art pieces that are quite an ice-breaker and convo starter!
Ping Pong, 129 Second Street, Nam Cheong House, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, www.pingpong129.com
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 6pm-11:30pm (last order at 11pm)
Although this Paris-inspired bar is located in one of the most popular places for drinks and nightlife in Hong Kong, it can be a tricky one to find! From an inconspicuous entrance on Wyndham Street, venture down a dark, winding staircase and you’ll find the intimate, Moulin-Rouge-esque ‘Le Boudoir’. Expect an eclectic mix of furnishings that include masks, paintings and vintage knick knacks as well as the occasional jazz singer. Step into Le Boudoir and you’ll feel worlds away from the bright noisy lights of Wyndham Street!
Le Boudoir, Basement, 65 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.french-creations.com/boudoir
Hours: Monday – Sunday. 6pm – 2am
Classing its cuisine as “funky fusion flavours,” Missy Ho’s is hidden away on Kennedy Town’s Forbes Street. Without any signage on the outside, stepping into Missy Ho’s feels like you’ve been let in on an exclusive secret. Inside, the bar is filled with references to Hong Kong traditions, such as birdcages, Union Jacks and historical photographs, alongside an envious collection of other weird and wonderful trinkets and some contemporary graffiti art. With dishes such as satays, salad, sushi rolls and tacos and a delectable dessert selection, there is definitely something for everyone at Missy Ho’s.
Sassy tip: You can find costumes in a dress up box for those Insta-pix, and there are two hidden swings that can be brought in ‘full action’ mode upon request.
Missy Ho’s, G/F, Sincere Western House, 48 Forbes Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, www.casteloconcepts.com/our-venues/missy-hos
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6pm – 11pm; Closed on Sunday
Hidden speakeasy Back Bar can be found through a door in the alleyway next to Ham & Sherry on Ship Street. Pick your poison from a witty and intriguing menu of cocktails inspired by bootleg DVDs and classic films, all conceived by former bar-manager Ryan Nightingale. With an atmosphere that is simultaneously moody and lively, Back Bar is definitely worth finding.
Back Bar, 1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.hamandsherry.hk
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 5:30pm – 1am; Friday & Saturday, 5:30pm – 2am; Sunday, 5:30pm-12am
Highline stands as an ode to Manhattan’s Chelsea District, offering a bar experience centred the spirit of Chelsea’s creativity and boldness. The first of its kind in Hong Kong, Highline has partnered with classic British perfumery Penhaligon’s to create a unique, aromatically driven range of cocktails, each based on a specific Penhaligon’s scent.
Highline, 50 Wyndham Street, Central (entrance through Street Meat), Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/highline.hk
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 6pm -1am; Friday – Saturday, 6pm – 3am; Closed on Sunday
Amongst a stretch of lurid neon signs and grubby shops lurks the entrance to a little gem of a cocktail bar. The shiny new Mody House building is easy to spot but gives no hint that it’s a gateway from deepest darkest TST to sleek minimalist Japan in the form of Butler, a cosy 20-seater Japanese whisky and cocktail bar. A bow-tied waiter is on hand to help you navigate its extensive whiskey and cocktail menu; drop hints about what you like (and what you don’t) and then sit back and watch them mix your bespoke drink. Go thirsty and peckish with plenty of time to savour the experience, because this is more than just a cocktail pit stop.
Bar Butler the Japanese Cocktail Bar, 5/F, Mody House, 30 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/Bar-Butler-The-Japanese-Cocktail-Bar
Hours: Monday – Friday, 6:30pm – 3am; Saturday, 6:30pm – 2am; Closed on Sunday
You’ll find Lan Kwai Lau just a few doors down from a random 7-Eleven on Lan Kwai Fong, look out for the stag’s head peaking out above a black door and you’ll know you’re at the right spot. Inside, expect dark wood finishings, leather chairs and an impressive whiskey selection. The atmosphere is at once broody and inviting, so you’d best believe that Lan Kwai Lau is definitely worth the fuss to find.
Sassy tip: Lan Kwai Lau is so hidden that it has neither a website nor contact number. Follow the Google map to LKL here.
Lan Kwai Lau, B/F, 2 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong
‘Mixsultant’ Joseph Boroski brings his iconic Bangkok ‘creative cocktail space’ to Central Hong Kong. Once you’ve bagged yourself an invite to the secret location, you’ll be treated to a dedicated ‘cocktail concierge service’ experience. Mysteriously located somewhere off Hollywood Road and down a hidden alley, this signless bar guarantees only the best when it comes to cocktails. The interior is designed by Ashley Sutton (of Opheila and Iron Fairies) and his renowned extravagant décor is toned down here to focus on the drink (apart from the curved ceiling that’s adorned in hundreds of real, shiny beetles!). There is no menu, it’s all about what you want as a customer and the skill and creativity of the bartenders. Tell them your favourite spirit or your favourite ingredients, and they’ll whip up something unique to suit your preferences.
Sassy tip: All guests are welcome to request for an invitation to J. Boroski. Simply contact 2603 6020 or email: [email protected] for location details and booking. Joseph welcomes guests to contact to him via social media about the cocktail space or location details as well.
Boroski, Ezra’s Lane, Central, Hong Kong (click here for a map), www.diningconcepts.com/restaurants/JBoroski
Hours: Sunday – Wednesday, 6pm – 2am; Thursday – Saturday, 6pm – 3am
Specialising in Japanese, vintage Scotch, and other rare whiskies, Club Qing is renowned for its huge selection of Japanese ‘water of life’ from almost every Japanese distillery, old and new. Dimly lit with traditional low slung seats, this is the perfect spot to get cosy with a more serious tipple.
Club Qing, 10/F, Cosmos Building, 8-11 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, www.clubqing.com
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 1am; Closed on Sunday
Inspired by the Dadaist art movement, Dada Bar & Lounge is a celebration of irony and contrast. Imagine wild shapes, fabrics and patterns with a cocktail menu to match, and you’ve got Dada. With its décor and delicious drinks, Dada adds a little surrealism to the Hong Kong hidden bar scene.
Sassy tip: The bar also hosts live music and events, so follow it on Facebook to stay up to date with their events calendar.
Dada Bar & Lounge, 2/F, The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.dadalounge.com.hk
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 4pm – 1am; Friday & Saturday, 4pm – 2am
Unlike many of the other hidden bars around Hong Kong, Ginger is unique in that it is dedicated to whiskey, and pretty much whiskey only. While there is a small selection of craft beers, wine and other spirits, don’t arrive expecting a cocktail. That said, who needs cocktails when you’ve got some of the finest whiskey from Scotland, the USA, Japan and even India, ready to be enjoyed in a cosy, intimate setting on one of Hong Kong’s traditional old streets?
Ginger, G/F, 12 On Wo Lane, Central, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/barginger.hk
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 5pm – 12am; Closed on Sunday
French-inspired is the bar-side of Bibo restaurant, and is the place to go for a fusion of street art and fine dining. A quintessentially bohemian hangout, de Bibo is committed to French Art Deco, from the furniture to the art and décor. Not that we’d expect anything less, but de Bibo’s cocktail menu includes some unusual concoctions made from vintage spirits and homemade cordials, many of them a throwback to their early-century counterparts.
Sassy tip: It’s an art lover’s haven, and its artwork is always changing!
Le Comptoir de Bibo, 163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.bibo.hk
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 5pm – 1am
Tucked away on a corner of Aberdeen Street is The Old Man, a speakeasy inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Led by bartender Agung Prabowo (previously of Lobster Bar and Mandarin Oriental and named one of Asia’s Top 10 bartenders in 2017 ), cocktails on offer have a Hemingway-Asian theme and are priced starting at $90.
The Old Man, Lower Ground Floor, 37 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.theoldmanhk.com
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 5pm to 2am; Sunday, 5pm – 12am
Above MO Bar at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental sits a telephone box reminiscent of 1940s New York, its sides lined with green felt and equipped with an old-school payphone. At the push of a button (or specifically, the “1” key), a petite, exquisitely-decorated bar is revealed. A sister venture of the NYC’s iconic speakeasy of the same name, PDT (Please Don’t Tell) is an intimate cocktail bar backed by renowned mixologist Jim Meehan and Mandarin Oriental’s culinary director Richard Ekkebus. Staying true to the New York original, MO’s PDT serves up both classic and creative cocktails as well as gourmet hot dogs and bar snacks, jazzed up by Ekkebus with flavours unique to Hong Kong. Also coherent with the NYC bar are the dressed-up taxidermied animals, the gorgeous copper-lined bar, and herringbone-patterned wooden ceiling. Cocktails begin at $158 while food starts at $88, excluding service charge.
PDT, Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, www.mandarinoriental.com/hong-kong/the-landmark/fine-dining/bars/pdt
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 6pm – 1:30am; Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 2am; Closed on Sunday
Read more: Please Don’t Tell Cocktail Bar: NYC’s Worst Kept Secret Opens in Hong Kong
Another New York import, Employees Only is a low-key, sophisticated bar, hidden behind a nondescript grey wall among the loud facades of its flashier neighbours in the centre of Lan Kwai Fong. Marked only by a neon red sign saying “Psychic”, it’s very easy to miss the entrance if you didn’t know what to look for. Despite its discreet exterior, the inside is anything but– tucked behind a fortune teller’s lair is a snazzy narrow space, decked out with geometric ceiling lights and a curvaceous bar. Employees Only’s bartenders free pour with amazing speed and precision– serving up to four cocktails in mere minutes! Apart from offering an extensive list of cocktails, Employees Only also serves a good range of food from bar nibbles to mains, making it a great spot for dinner and drinks all under one roof. Critically-acclaimed with a strong international presence (its American sister has been featured as one of the World’s 50 Best Bars eight times), Employees Only in Hong Kong is a worthy addition to its locations in Singapore, Panama City, Miami, and of course, New York.
Employees Only, 19 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, www.employeesonlyhk.com
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 4am; Sunday, 8pm – 4am (last order at 3:30am)
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 21 June, 2017 and was updated on 15 June, 2018