Take your palate on a futuristic odyssey at ARTIFACT Bar with vintage cocktails reinvented by star mixologists Beckaly Franks and Ezra Star
ARTIFACT Bar opened this past spring as a sister venue to its Japanese counter-dining eatery at BaseHall 02, led by influential bar industry veterans (and married couple) Ezra Star and Beckaly Franks of The Pontiac, Quality Goods Club and Call Me AL (notably, Franks was crowned the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender at this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards).
Since the bar’s inception, its avant-garde interior, taking unique inspiration from the otherworldly atmosphere found at underground water reservoirs, has become a talking point. In such a quirky, futuristic setting, ARTIFACT places a creative, modern spin on old-fashioned (some might even say outdated) cocktails.
While ARTIFACT keeps a permanent collection of signature cocktails, their latest quarterly rotating menu (all cocktails HK$170) spotlights a historic aged spirit – French gin Citadelle. A highlight of Citadelle gin is its utilisation of the progressive infusion method. The gin is barrel-aged in French oak with multiple botanicals, with more than 12 different aromas and flavours present, from a type of camomile native to France, to herbs and spices such as rosemary, cardamom and nutmeg, to Japanese citrus fruit yuzu.
One of these seasonal Citadelle cocktails is the Rickey, a riff on the classic gin rickey, which dates back to 1883. At ARTIFACT, this is a lightly carbonated tipple focusing on the fruity, zesty flavours of blueberry and yuzu. This slightly sweet, refreshing drink also has a subtle saltiness and herbaceous notes from the inclusion of coriander.
For something even sweeter (which looks deceptively like a martini), we recommend the Stirred Gimlet, served ice cold and garnished with an extra-large Japanese grape. This cocktail presents a multisensory contrast, balancing the intense, umami aroma of sesame oil with both the sweetness of grape and delicacy of shiso.
A great choice for a nightcap, the pre-bottled Sazerac is a classic cocktail with the addition of VSOP cognac, bringing the flavours of French oak to the forefront alongside the warm, spicy notes of anise and juniper.
In addition to the seasonal cocktails, ARTIFACT Bar’s food menu has been given a complete makeover. Previously, the bar showcased luxe snacks that contained a lot of truffle, caviar, gold flakes and Wagyu. Now, the menu presents casual, modern Japanese plates whilst maintaining its premium izakaya-style counter-dining experience – now dubbed ARTIFACT K·A·Y·A – outside the bar (ARTIFACT K·A·Y·A·’s menu can also be served inside the bar, with a new dinner tasting menu on board too).
Some of my favourite bar bites include the tsukune stuffed wings (HK$120), which are tossed in Okinawan black sugar, and the deep-fried Wagyu beef gyozas (HK$160), which are brightened by a smoky charred red bell pepper sauce on the side. On the lighter end of the spectrum, the otoro with lotus chips (HK$210), smaller in portion, is complemented by an earthy shiso vinaigrette.
ARTIFACT is guaranteed to take your palate on a flavour-packed journey with its thoughtful, whimsical approach to vintage cocktails. The drinks are complex and multisensory, using an array of layered ingredients to contrast on the nose and palate.
Where: LG/F, Jardine House, Connaught Place, Central
For reservations: book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.