Ranked at number 13 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 list, DarkSide at Rosewood Hong Kong has introduced a cocktail menu celebrating our city’s culture and craftmanship. The Art of Mahjong menu (all cocktails HK$180), created by bar managers KT Lam and Simone Rossi, focus on the artistry of longstanding local company Tuna Yao Ceramics and glassblowing studio Soekjing Studio. In addition, mahjong artist Karen Aruba and mahjong artisan Master Rich Cheung collaborated with Rosewood to craft a set of mahjong tiles showcasing beautiful floral designs associated with the four seasons – plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum.
Mahjong, a traditional Chinese tile game, has been integral to Hong Kong society for generations. When playing mahjong, a die is rolled to determine the person who begins the game and the direction it is to be played. DarkSide’s cocktail menu can be enjoyed in exactly the same way.
Summer is inspired by local cafés serving up lemon soda. Here, Lam and Rossi focus on lychee, one of our favourite summer fruits. Similar to a whisky highball, soda by The London Essence Company and Nikka Days whisky are the main ingredients. Fruity and juicy but not too sweet, this drink also contains house-made amaro crafted with locally grown herbs. It’s garnished with a salted lychee. The glass is handblown with bubbles to give a cool, refreshing summer look, with a mahjong design added to symbolise the longest season in the 852.
Winter is for whisky sour lovers, made with 15-year-old Matusalem rum and sweet potato, a hearty starch roasted commonly on HK streets on chilly days. This drink has an an underlying hint of ginger, adding a warm, spicy flavour that highlights the taste and texture of the sweet potato.
Before diving into the two most spirit-forward cocktails on the menu, let’s talk DarSide’s bar bites, which are some of the best I’ve had in Hong Kong. The crisp arancini (HK$170) are complemented by a light, spicy arrabbiata sauce, while the smoky Ibérico croquettes (HK$190) are equally moreish. Both are must-orders! For something light to snack on, the classic truffle fries (HK$120) are recommended.
The luxurious bikini sandwiches (HK$190) are also great for sharing, featuring an oozing combo of mortadella and mozzarella cheese along with black truffle. Divine!
Back to the drinks! The stirred Plum martini uses Grey Goose vodka and tomato consommé for its base, imparting a powerful umami flavour. Mancino Secco vermouth smooths out this cocktail, which has a subtle undertone of savoury salted plum. Ice cold and poured from a small rice-wine terracotta pot into a handmade ceramic martini glass featuring hand-drawn cherry blossoms, this drink is the most complex on the menu.
Bamboo is a stirred cocktail garnished with a black sesame nougat candy similar to the White Rabbit sweets I used to eat as a kid. This sophisticated drink consists of peaty notes of Johnny Walker Black complemented by earthy, floral notes of chrysanthemum and thyme. This tipple is sweet and slightly bitter, ending with the smooth, clean notes of green tea in the bamboo-distilled sake.
This impressive menu at DarkSide honours both local artisans and ingredients that are native to Hong Kong. Highly recommended!
Where: 2/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, TST
For reservations: phone 3891 8732 (bookings for 4+)
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.