DarksSide is one of my favourite bars in Kowloon. It feels like an escape with an elegant prohibition influence, and with its location sitting atop the twirling drive into the Rosewood hotel it feels tucked away from the busy streets of TST.
Ranked thirteenth best bar in Asia this year and forty ninth on the Worlds 50 Best Bars list, DarkSide screams timeless sophistication. The bar is most alive with live jazz, cocktail glasses clinking, and a place to try rare-aged spirits and cigars.
Under the bar director Arkadiuz Rybak and beverage manager Simone Rossi, the forgotten classics date from the last century. All cocktails are $170 and are styled with a generational twist. The menu is history-filled and shares the origins behind each creation.
After a long week, I’d start with something spirit forward like the La Louisienne or something refreshing and well balanced like the bramble.
La Louisienne is a house cocktail from the defunct bar La Louisiane, which was famous in New Orleans for its Cajun specialties. This cocktail is for someone who enjoys a good Manhattan. The stirred cocktail contains Michters rye whisky, mancino rosso vermouth, Benedictine and Peychauds bitters and a splash of absinthe. I love the lemon oils that sit on the top, making this boozy and slightly sweet drink very refreshing and dominant in lemon.
Bramble was created in London during the 1980’s and is inspired by Dick Brasells’ childhood memories in Isle of Wight. Bramble, meaning blackberry bushes is given a refreshing twist with Star of Bombay Gin. Notes of blackberry are obvious from the Crème du Mure (a homemade blackberry liqueur) and the glass is decorated with a powder of dusty, dehydrated strawberry. There’s a very slight fizziness that comes on the tip of your tongue after each sip to this brisk, refreshing, and fruity tipple.
My favourite cocktail over the evening must be the side car. The exact origins of where and who made it is unclear, but the Ritz in Paris claims the creation, with most historians acknowledging its creation was during World War I. An actual vintage, ceramic side car (created by Tung Yao Ceramics) contains the ice cold cocktail, and it’s hand poured into a deep, coupette glass. It’s boozy and ice cold, with Remy Martin VSOP, lemon and Pierre Ferrand Dry Cuacao mixed together. It’s not a sweet cocktail but rather fresh and tangy.
For something pink and pretty, the Chicago fizz, created by the Waldorf Astoria pre-prohibition era is revived at Darkside with plantation dark rum and grahams ruby port. Shaken with lemon and egg white to set the drink, a fresh grate of nutmeg gently dusts the top. Earthy and sour describes the overall taste of this cocktail, with the nutmeg giving warmth to each sip.
After a long day, unwinding at DarkSide is something I could get used to especially on the weekdays where it’s a bit quieter. I am loving the classic cocktails and their history and find it truly fascinating to see that classics never go out of style – always paired best with jazz for an intimate evening.
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.