Ranked number 8 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023, groundbreaking ARGO places the spotlight on six local ingredients that work with one another in a special symbiotic relationship
The Four Seasons’ ARGO sets the bar (literally) when it comes to top tipples in Hong Kong. It’s been open since the summer of 2021, and quite soon after its debut, it began making waves for its dual-concept cocktails crafted with quirky spirits – an original creation and its evolved, off-piste sibling. It now sits pretty at number 8 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars and at an impressive number 34 on the global list of The World’s Best Bars.
The sophisticated cocktail bar is led by Four Seasons Beverage Manager Federico Balzarini, Assistant Director of F&B Summer Lo and Head Bartender Yvonne Chan, and the trio continue to innovate with each new menu iteration. Volumes 1 and 2 were dedicated to single ingredients and culinary-processing techniques, and now, the menu highlights agroforestry, the integration of trees and plants into crop- and animal-farming systems in order to create environmental, economic and social benefits.
But how does agroforestry translate to cocktails in the real world? Balzarini explains that the six local ingredients the team have chosen to focus on in this new Forestry menu work with one another in a special symbiotic relationship, epitomising the unity between agriculture and trees. He says, “We wanted to focus on ingredients and animals that sustain each other without the need of human culture. They grow and create the best environment for each other.”
The six sustainble hero ingredients
The six ingredients showcased in the Forestry cocktails (HK$175–195 each) are all carefully sourced in Hong Kong – and are certainly not run-of-the-mill flora and fauna. They include granite, sweet potato, ginger lily, strawberry, bamboo and goat.
Take the use of strawberry in this Deathless Old Fashioned, the more extreme cocktail of the strawberry set, owing to its complex execution. The perennial strawberry plant is vital to the well-being of a farm, serving as both an ally by attracting pollinators to flowers like the ginger lily, another hero ingredient, as well as supplying us with delicious berries.
This is a clarified cocktail made with The Macallan 12 double-cask single-malt whisky, lacto strawberry, Bénédictine DOM herbal liqueur and bitters. The lacto-fermented strawberry is clarified by centrifuging it so that the leftover fruit at the bottom of the jar is jam-like in consistency. The drink is paired with the more straightforward Perennial Treat, a frozen dessert cocktail mixed with Bacardi 8 rum, strawberry jam, cocoa juice, absinthe, lemon gelato and hojicha sparkling tea. The half-fermented cocoa juice is sourced from home-grown bean-to-bar chocolatier Conspiracy Chocolate.
Perhaps the most surprising ingredient chosen to spotlight is goat. Goats are highly beneficial to agroforestry systems; they improve soil quality, help to control weed growth and increase biodiversity. Favoured by the Foodie team is this milky and fruity punch-esque cocktail called Thief!, featuring Havana Club 7 rum, melon, hazelnut, goat yoghurt and Ratafia Rossi cherry wine. Served with a small wooden spoon resting atop the glass, the spoon contains a bite-sized sphere of ice cream made of goat yoghurt. After devouring the ice-cream ball, we recommend using the spoon to mix the drink, thus imparting a subtle tangy flavour to the cocktail.
Instead of just one evolved cocktail pairing, three special cocktails have been created in the Goat Evolution Flight (HK$175), dubbed Kid, Buck and Billy (we’ll let these be a surprise).
ARGO’s luxurious bar bites
The bar bites at ARGO, designed by Four Seasons Executive Chef Maxime Luvara and Executive Pastry Ringo Chan, are a worthy match to the watering hole’s pioneering cocktails.
The ARGO burger (HK$268) is a definite crowd-pleaser, standing out for its use of sustainably sourced Wagyu. It’s jazzed up with applewood bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and a spicy jalapeño sauce. Accompanied by impeccable sweet potato fries, this is one refined burger plate.
Our favourite of the bar-bite lot at ARGO, the fish tacos (HK$198 for 2) feature perfectly deep-fried cod enhanced with XO mayo and ginger lily. Sweet, sour and spicy, the punchy flavours awaken the palate.
On the sweet side, there’s a Hong Kong waffle (HK$150) served with poached pear belle Hélène, soy caramel and moutai stracciatella gelato that strikes our fusion fancy.
After such a thoughtful, sustainable menu, we can’t wait to see what the revolutionary ARGO crew dazzle us with next.
Where: Lobby, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central
For reservations: phone 3196 8882 or book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting.