Cover New cocktails arrive at Roji (Photo: Handout)

From futuristic alcoholic "capsules" to Okinawan cocktails, we introduce the most novel ways to quench your thirst this summer

Cooling down in a heatwave, taking your mind off a global pandemic, or merely to spirit your mind away to another time and place amidst another summer without travel... whatever your reason for drinking, Hong Kong is one of the best cities to do it in this season. Whether your ailments call for a splash of gin in your Chinese soup or a full medley of supposedly curative cocktails, our city's bars and distilleries have you covered with a number of exciting openings, pop-ups and collaborations to imbibe. Keep scrolling for our full round-up. 

See also: Argo At Four Seasons Hong Kong Is One Of 2021's Most Ambitious Bar Openings

Darkside Collaborates With Fernet Hunter For A Foraged Amaro

As part of its push towards a more sustainable form of mixology, as well as to celebrate Hong Kong's local flavours, Darkside has partnered with professional forager Wanda Huang and Fernet Hunter to create a one-of-a-kind amaro. Called 'Hunter In The Dark', the amaro will be showcased into four cocktails, alongside herbs hand-foraged by Huang around Tai O, and available only for one week at Darkside from August 23 to 29. 

First up is the Austrian Fashioned, which mixes Fernet Hunter with Plantation 5 Years Rum, Bourgoin Pineau, Cherry Heering, agave, Abbotts and peach bitters. The Bee's Hunt is made with Hunter In The Dark amaro, Barr Hill Gin, Barr Hill raw honey, Mancino Bianco, absinthe, Cedrata and prosecco. Meanwhile, the Chalming Highball includes Fernet Hunter Granit, Chamomile, Michel Huard Fine Calvados and soda; while the Melange Martini features Hunter In The Dark amaro, Mr Black coffee liqueur, Remy Martin VSOP and absinthe melange foam. Each drink is priced at HK$180.

On August 25, Huang and Fernet Hunter co-founder Raphael Holzer will also host a seminar on the art of foraging, the importance of local agriculture, and how to include indigenous herbs into the process of spirits-making. For more information, head to Darkside's website here.

Roji Debuts New Cocktails

Just opened in April of this year, Roji is already adding to its cocktail lineup with two new signatures from the mind of barman Lok Gurung. First up is the Pepper Miso, a quaffable margarita twist with umami notes from the addition of red miso, counterbalanced with the approachable vibrancy of yuzu and mango. A garnish of torched Japanese pepper builds on the smokiness inherent from the base of tequilas and mezcal.

Meanwhile, the Yamanashi riffs off of the sangria in a uniquely Japanese manner, mixing red wine from Yamanashi prefecture with Japanese melon liqueur, sake, white cognac, Antica Formula and a dash of fresh lime juice. To garnish, a slice of pickled cucumber supplies a hit of welcome umami for the perfect quencher to fend off any rainy day. 

To end the night, it is customary for guests at Roji to sling back a Roji Shot, which provides a more considered alternative to the tequila shot with a mix of coconut and pandan tequila, mezcal and agave syrup, and a slice of frozen tropical fruit sprinkled with kombu salt.

These new additions sit alongside popular crowd favourites: the Kinome (prickly ash-infused vodka, Fernet Hunter, coconut syrup, tropical citrus), the Mugi Punch (Matusalem rum, barley shochu, citrus, mirin, Koikuchi Shoyu dark soy sauce, bonito flakes), and the Old Fashioned-inspired Red Bean (red bean-infused Ezra Brooks bourbon, black sesame shochu, hojicha, Japanese bitters). With new cocktails come new opening hours, as Roji opens until 2am from Thursday to Saturday, with last food orders extended until 11.30pm.

Roji, G/F, 20A D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong

Related: Through The Stirring Glass: If Nepal Were A Cocktail, According To Stockton's Lok Gurung

Argo Opens In Four Seasons Hong Kong

Now open in Four Seasons Hong Kong, Argo, a game-changing bar that seeks to drive innovation in cocktails and spirits, is already shifting the conversation in Hong Kong. Styling itself after the ship that carried Jason and the Argonauts of ancient Greek mythology into terra incognita, Argo's cocktail menu is an exploration of familiar classics reinterpreted in novel and unexpected ways, as well as in entirely new concoctions that highlight the rapidly changing nature of global climate and food ecosystems.

Helming the bar is Lorenzo Antinori, the charismatic Four Seasons beverage ambassador for Asia-Pacific, and protegé Summer Lo, who were largely responsible for placing Caprice Bar, located just a few floors above, at #10 on this year's Asia's 50 Best Bars. Supported by head bartender Yvonne Chan, formerly of The Old Man and Quinary, and Proof & Company's Tom Egerton, the duo are opening with a cocktail menu titled 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow'—a fitting aphorism for the shifting political, economic, and environmental landscape we find ourselves in.

Accordingly, the menu is based on six staple ingredients—honey, cacao, vanilla, coffee, rice, and apple—that may be endangered in the future due to environmental degradation. Local and regional partners provide the raw ingredients for the drinks, from mono-floral lychee and longan honey from local bee farm HK Raw Honey, to ethically-sourced, single-origin cocoa from Malaysia's Chocolate Concierge. Each ingredient spawns two cocktails: an 'origin' cocktail that captures the traditional form of the ingredient, and an 'evolution' cocktail that explores the ways in which our relationship with said ingredient will evolve as it becomes more scarce.

Argo, G/F, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong

The Poet Debuts New Signature Cocktail Menu

Having only recently reopened to the public after months of restrictions, Soho speakeasy The Poet is finally debuting a new roster of signature cocktails. Replacing half of the existent cocktail menu, the new drinks incorporate fruits and botanicals from across Southeast Asia for a refreshing take on classic formulas and original creations alike. Crowd-pleasers include the Kiwi Milk Punch, a clarified rum drink with kiwi syrup, and the Monochrome, utilising coconut oil-washed rum with house-made coffee mix. Those up for a challenge can order the B.M.C.R., a creative take on the Corpse Reviver that uses pisco, bitter melon and milk-washed rum; alternatively, congee lovers will love the off-menu Chinese Ginger Fizz, a pink pickled ginger-infused concoction finished off with a garnish of none other than century egg.

The Poet, 13 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong

Darkside Blasts Off With Its Moon Menu

We're in the thick of a new golden age for space exploration: from the likes of Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos fleshing out their space tourism fantasies, to China completing a spacewalk aboard its own space station, 2021 marks a crescendo in humanity's space-faring dreams. Swept up by the zeitgeist, Darkside has also taken its (cosmonaut) gloves off with the all-new Moon Menu, an ambitious new family of cocktails that pay tribute to the eight phases of the moon. 

The eight new drinks (HK$180 each) are named after said lunar phases, each of which is linked with a human emotion—in accordance with ancient yogic and astrological beliefs. New Moon corresponds with new beginnings, and involves the use of Johnnie Walker Black Label, Fernet Hunter and Cantine Intorica Banana Aromatic Marsala Wine; while the Old Fashioned-like Waxing Gibbous symbolises fresh energy, represented by Remy Martin VSOP cognac, Graham’s Fine Ruby Port wine, Bourgoin Pineau des Charentes, tonka beans and myrrh mist. As each phase becomes more luminous, the drinks themselves become stronger.

Darkside also enlisted the help of Melbourne-based ceramic artist Ryan Foote and Polish resin artist Magdalena Klim in their mission, both of whom created bespoke vessels for the celestial tipples. Meanwhile, the menu itself has been designed with a holographic experience in mind, while guests can consult a "moon magic ball" to have their cocktail decided for them. The Moon Menu is ready for lift-off from July 12 onwards.

Related: Aged In Space, A Bottle Of Pétrus 2000 Goes Up For Auction at Christie’s

Awa Awa Brings Okinawa To Peel Street

Taking over the former Mamma Always Said space on Peel Street, Awa Awa is a new gastropub that channels the drinking culture of the tropical Japanese archipelago of Okinawa. Despite Hong Kong's enduring fascination with all things Japanese, Okinawan cuisine is still hard to find outside of a handful of restaurants scattered around the city—a gap that Awa Awa hopes to fill.

Headed up by sake sommelier Elliot Faber, Matteo Ceravolo and the team behind Sake Central, Awa Awa is named after Okinawa's native liquor, awamori—an alcohol distilled from long grain rice then aged in claypots—with the bar aiming to stock at least one expression from every one of Okinawa's 47 awamori distilleries. Meanwhile, Arlene Wong, previously of The Pontiac and current Mr. Black brand ambassador in Asia, will be heading up the cocktail programme, while chef Joe Chan's cooking reinterprets Okinawa's hybrid cuisine with an international twist—think tostadas, ceviche, pig's ear yakisoba and kakiage tempura.

Aiming to educate and enliven, Awa Awa is certainly worth a visit to cure your wanderlust while Okinawa itself remains out of bounds.

Awa Awa, 42 & 44 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong

Related: All About Awamori, The Japanese Spirit You Should Be Drinking Now

Apothecary Opens In Soho

New to Soho is Apothecary, a speakeasy-like bar inspired by the medicinal origins of alcoholic concoctions of yore. Focusing on the transformative power of botanicals, the cocktail menu was conceived of by mixologists Lik Hang Fung, Joe Wong and Austen Lendrum, and highlights the use of herbs and spices in drinks like the umami-rich Wolf Peach Highball (gin, shiso-infused umeshu, apple, fino sherry, tomato soda, salted plum powder) and the funky Live and Prosper (akvavit, tepache, sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca, Campari, ginger foam). Styled like a Victorian-era medicine shop, the bar interior is intimate and transportive, while also remaining ironically relevant to the times we currently find ourselves in.

Apothecary, Shop 3A, Carfield Commercial Building, 75-77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong

Boticario Reopens In Tsim Sha Tsui East

Slated initially to open in November 2020, Boticario only managed one week of business before social distancing regulations forced it to shut for the better half of this year. Now, the Argentinian-themed bar—which seeks to recreate the convivial cocktail culture of capital city Buenos Aires' golden age in the 1920s—is trying its luck again with an original bar menu of cocktails that take inspiration from the herb and botanicals that featured heavily in South America's pre-war farmacias

The craft libations are thoroughly Instagram-worthy, and themed around the concept of 'cures for the modern age'. Separated into the categories of “serendipity”, “sanguine”, “melancholy”, and “nostalgia”, highlights of the menu include the Smoke Bomb, a mix of aged Diplomatico Planas rum, pineapple and almond, sherry, lime juice and cacao bitters, with a flavoured smoke bubble ceremoniously topped tableside; and the Brave Bullfighter, consisting of cold-distilled shiitake mushroom vodka, agave, fresh pink grapefruit juice, and lime juice. The food is served in tapas portions and influenced by Mediterranean cuisine, with the likes of ceviche, empanadas, grilled octopus accompanying the cocktails.

Spread over two floors and featuring a harbour-facing patio, Boticario promises to deliver the same liquid respite as its pharmaceutical predecessors did one hundred years ago.

Boticario, Shop G5 & UG 15, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong

[CONCLUDED] Talisker Brings The Isle Of Skye To Quinary

Just like the passing of a summer rain shower, Quinary is onto its next pop-up experience, this time with Isle of Skye scotch distillery, Talisker. Inspired by the salty sea spray and hardy maritime rhythms of the Scottish island, Quinary has been transformed into a wind-battered bothy—a projection of sea waves welcomes visitors while framed photos of the Isle of Skye's rugged landscapes line the walls.

Highlighting the salty nose and peated character of Talisker, the Quinary team has whipped up two original cocktails that can be ordered through the month of July. Bar manager Kai Ng's Catch of the Day is a Rob Roy-inspired drink that combines Talisker 10, lavender-infused Drambuie, and lemon verbena sous-vide sweet vermouth in a fish-shaped bottle. Guests can pour the mix into a rocks glass filled with applewood smoke, and dip a Talisker-coated crystal candy stick into the cocktail to sweeten it to their liking. Meanwhile, senior bartender Hei Chan's Sea Coco Highball is a salty-sweet combination of Talisker 10, coco de mer cordial, and sea salt, apple honey and white wine vinegar mix.

See also: Through The Stirring Glass: Quinary Founder Antonio Lai's Career So Far In 3 Cocktails

[CONCLUDED] Sip On Kyoto At Tell Camellia's Ki No Bi Pop-Up

Following on from its takeover with Censu at Sake Central in May, Kyoto-based gin label Ki No Bi has now set up shop at Tell Camellia, turning the alleyway approach into a dramatic torii shrine gate. Inside, the tea-themed bar has been transformed into a serene Kyoto teahouse, with four Teatails (tea-based cocktails) made using Ki No Bi gin at the fore. These incorporate a wide range of Japanese ingredients like mirin, muskmelon, yuzu and umeshu with gins like Ki No Tea and Ki No Bi Sei, evoking aspects of the ancient Japanese capital in the process. Also available is a G&T tasting flight, where guests can savour three small serves of Ki No Bi's range in one go. Every Sunday, Katsumoto Sando Bar will also be serving three sando options at Tell Camellia for the month of July.

Meanwhile, gin enthusiasts will delight in the two-hour-long Ki No Tea workshop (HK$550 per person), where the bar team will host a guided tasting of three distinctive teas from different origins, followed by Ki No Bi's six-element tasting, and lastly, a cocktail-making experience using Ki No Tea gin. Available until August 2, find out more about the pop-up by heading to Tell Camellia's Instagram page.

Tell Camellia, LG/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong

[CONCLUDED] The Glenlivet Rolls Out Cocktail "Capsules" At Bars And Cafes Across Hong Kong

Though The Glenlivet distillery has continuously operated since 1824, its propensity for innovation is readily apparent in its latest, thoroughly futuristic release. First introduced in London in late 2019, The Glenlivet cocktail capsule collection has made its way to Hong Kong, and takes the form of globular 'capsules' that contain a shot of a cocktail within a thin algae-derived skin that is both gluten-free and vegan-friendly. The collection includes four flavours: the Paloma, a classic, grapefruit-heavy long drink; The Glenlivet Sour, using a base of The Glenlivet 12 YO Excellence; Scottish Coffee, a scotch-based variation of the famous Irish cocktail; and tropical, pineapple-flavoured The Last King.

Available at a number of cafes and bars around Hong Kong, the capsules can be ordered as part of a flight containing a dram of The Glenlivet's 12- or 15-year-old expressions, plus a full-sized cocktail that has been designed to pair with one of the four capsule flavours. Examples include Terrible Baby's flight pairing The Glenlivet Sour with the Freak Show and Rebel Hell cocktails, while at Whisky & Words, the Paloma capsule is enjoyed with the yuzu-flavoured Citrus Highball. Other participating outlets include Lobster Bar & Grill, Doubleshot, Dio, and Morokok.

See also: Opening in June: Margo And Kyle & Bain, A Brasserie And Martini Bar By The Team Behind The Diplomat And Wagyumafia

[CONCLUDED] Perfume Trees Gin Collaborates With Tin Lung Heen On Gin-Infused Chinese Cooking

Though it seems at times like the ever-expanding world of gin is close to reaching capacity, local gin brand Perfume Trees Gin and Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong's resident Chinese restaurant, Tin Lung Heen, have managed to push the boundaries even further. Available until August 31, the collaboration is comprised of three a la carte dishes by chef Paul Lau that incorporate the fragrance of the champaca flower—the defining botanical in Perfume Trees Gin.

The double-boiled South African abalone soup with conpoy, winter melon and dried champaca features a floral, light-bodied broth; a pairing of caviar-topped braised glutinous rice and diced garoupa with chilled beef shin incorporates dashings of gin to uplifting effect; while a delicate dish of Chilean sea conch sees it prepared two ways—one with a sauce of chili, huadiao wine, rosolio liqueur, and Perfume Trees Gin, and the other, wok-fried and garnished with termite mushrooms and deep-fried champaca. Each dish is complemented with the choice of an espresso martini or gin and tonic made with Perfume Trees Gin. 

At Cafe 103, Perfume Trees Gin continues its collaboration in the form of an afternoon tea set (HK$718 for two), which spans four savoury treats and five sweets inspired by the various botanicals of the spirit. These include bites like herbed pecorino and juniper berry crepe roll, snow crab "ravioli" with yuzu gel, red bean chocolate choux with aged tangerine peel, and liquorice, chrysanthemum and goji verrine. Wash these down with a French 75 cocktail or espresso martini for a champaca-scented journey from start to finish.

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong

[CONCLUDED] Two Moons Launches Calamansi Gin With Pop-Ups At Quinary & The Pawn

When the co-founders of Two Moons Distillery, Dimple Yuen and Ivan Chang, were looking for the one ingredient to anchor their next gin, they found their answer in a condiment to a meal they were enjoying in Sham Shui Po. The calamansi, an intensely aromatic Southeast Asian citrus, was redolent of the salted lime 7-Ups unique to Hong Kong's cha chaan tengs, with the zest lending itself perfectly to the flavour profile of gin. Their subsequent discovery that calamansi is grown locally at Sheung Shui’s Fu Kam Organic Farm sealed the deal for a gin expression that could succinctly capture the essence of a Hong Kong summer in a bottle.

The result is the Two Moons Calamansi Gin, a wonderfully tart yet minimalist gin that uses only three botanicals, as opposed to the usual dozen (or more) of a London dry: these are calamansi, juniper, and spruce. Available in 700ml bottles (HK$550) or the 200ml collector's edition (HK$228)—which comes with a satchet of sea salt from Hong Kong's only remaining salt pan in Yim Tin Tsai—the Calamansi Gin does wonders for combating the oppressive summer heat.

To introduce the gin to Hong Kong, Two Moons is hosting two pop-ups across Hong Kong. The first is at Quinary, where mixologist Antonio Lai has created multi-sensory cocktails that build on the calamansi flavour with additions like sea salt foam and vanilla "air". Meanwhile at The Pawn, the menu steers towards classic drinks like the martini and Tom Collins, uplifted with a base of Calamansi Gin.

Quinary, 56-58 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong

The Pawn, 62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Related: Two Moons Distillery's Dimple Yuen On Why She Loves Fermented Tofu With Red Wine

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