Known for its medicinal properties, gin and tonic was the original 'life in the tropics' tipple. And while these days we may not need to worry about malaria striking in Hong Kong, the refreshing blend still hits all the right spots, particularly on a balmy summer night. Hidden in side streets, malls and basements, and bursting with atmosphere, here are five of our favourite gin bars in the city.
Tucked away behind the Palm Court lobby lounge at the Langham Hotel Hong Kong, this bijoux art deco-style bar is an outpost of the multi-award-winning Artesian at The Langham London. Like its sibling, it puts the same care into creating smooth yet exciting cocktails, with a strong emphasis on gin – there's an incredible range of over 450 different gin brands behind the bar, including the Langham Hong Kong's own gin produced by local craft distillery N.I.P. (Not Important Person).
Keep an eye on the website for pop-ups with the likes of India's Strangers & Sons, Sweden's Hernö and Kenya's Pocera Gin.
Order: Dim Sum Gin Fashioned, an aromatic blend of gin, Dubonnet, DOM Benedictine, cardamon bitters and Ceylon tea
Lobby Level, The Langham, Hong Kong, 8 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
The Botanical Garden is part of The Magistracy, a colonial-era law court that once tried Ho Chi Minh turned fashionable British dining room located inside the Tai Kwun arts and heritage hub in Central. Arched doorways lead from the main dining hall to an enchanting outdoor terrace shaded by tropical greenery and tasselled parasols.
The drinks list is concise, featuring red, rosé and white wine alongside a selection of premium gins, such as Cambridge Distillery's Japanese gin, made using Japanese botanicals – shiso leaf, yuzu peel, white toasted sesame – and citrusy Martin Miller's.
Order: A classic G&T, the Star of Bombay, infused with lemon peel and topped with an Indian elderflower tonic water
G/F, Central Magistracy, Tai Kwun, 1 Arbuthnot Rd, Central, Hong Kong
Ping Pong Gintonería
Squirrelled away in the basement of an apartment block in Sai Ying Pun, one of Hong Kong's trendiest neighbourhoods, this downstairs den is packed with a casual, lively crowd drinking Spanish gins with sides of tapas.
The name comes from the space's previous status as an old table tennis hall. Now, it's been repurposed into a hip double-height gritty-glam speakeasy drenched in red neon, where a roster of regular events might include a documentary screening, an open-mic night, a classical music performance or DJs spinning '90s house tracks.
Order: A refreshing pomelo pomade, a slightly slushy party drink made with Xoriuer gin, pomelo soda and mint
129 Second Street L/G Nam Cheong House, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
Dr Fern's Gin Parlour
This cosy bar is set inside the swanky Landmark mall in the heart of Central's energetic business district. However, walk through its black door and it feels like you've entered the kind of elegant Victorian apothecary that Charles Dickens might have popped into – checkerboard floors, prim velvet sofas, wood panelling, walls of drawers, and fountains of hanging ferns.
An imaginary tale takes visitors on a healing journey through the juniper wilds through a menu of sweet, citrusy, fruity-floral and spicy gin cocktails. Classic G&Ts accompanied by artisanal tonics are available too.
Order: The Porcelain Mandarin, a blend of Porcelain Shanghai Dry Gin subtly flavoured with citrus, Sichuan peppercorns and cardamom
Shop B31A, First Basement Floor, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Kyle & Bain
This glamorous small bar, located on the mezzanine floor of Margot restaurant, takes its name from the Scottish engineers who set up Hong Kong's first ice-storage facility in the late 19th century on an alley now known as Ice House Street in Central.
While Kyle & Bain declares itself a martini bar, it is so much more, offering a range of inspired signature cocktails and a mean list of gins, including Sipsmith, Plymouth, and more. Whatever your tastes, the head bartender, John Nugent, will magic up the perfect drink for you.
Order: Start with an Old Alliance, a punchy mix of gin, Scotch whisky, white port and fresh pear
Shop 7, G/F, The Galleria, 9 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
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