Well known for its exquisite design and Michelin-starred Cantonese eats, Duddell’s has given us more reasons to visit this iconic spot – a fabulous new Salon manager and a brand new-cocktail menu filled with old-world creations.
Mixologist Mario Calderone has worked at renowned bars all over the world – from Zuma London to Bar Lafayette in Perth and, more recently, Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge here in Hong Kong. Now, he’s helming the bar on the fourth floor of Duddell’s, curating a menu of pre-Prohibition cocktail classics and innovative new cocktails.
One of the menu’s most exciting reminders of years gone by is a selection of absinthe, served with the aid of an actual absinthe fountain. A drink that’s long been shrouded in mystery, absinthe is widely misunderstood, either categorised as a mind-altering substance or a dangerous shot that is lit on fire at stag parties. However, in the late 19th and early 20th century, absinthe was a drink sipped happily by notable artists and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Pablo Picasso. Like all alcohol, in moderation absinthe can be a deliciously diverse drink that will appeal to those with a taste for herbal flavours, notably aniseed.
Duddell’s offers three types of absinthe: St George absinthe ($160) from California, which has a lighter flavour that’s perfect for rookie absinthe drinkers, La Fée absinthe ($110) from France, a bluish-green, classic-style spirit, and Pernod absinthe ($120) from France’s oldest absinthe distillery, a stronger option for those already well versed in the drink.
Some of Calderone’s unique creations include the rich and fruity Berry Smash ($150), the tart and refreshing Hemingway Crusta ($140) and the signature Duddell’s Sour ($140), which has a light, citrusy flavour.
Moving on from summery sips and towards more warming drinks, the Pearfectioned ($140) is a take on an old-fashioned, made with pear-infused Hennessy VSOP and Capovilla pear distillate. The classic drink is given a fun, fruity twist, served with a side of caramelised pear for snacking on alongside the beverage.
Oolong Blazer ($140) is served with a side of theatrics. Made with oolong tea and plum bitters, this cocktail is said to be a twist on the original recipe from the 1862 Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide. The drink is served hot and ablaze with actual fire. While cocktails and dim sum may not seem like a logical pairing, this tea-based cocktail went down a treat with Duddell’s free-flow dim sum ($298/person).
Always a bit of a sucker for theatrics and speakeasy-style mixology, we love the new cocktail menu at Duddell’s. Mario Calderone is certainly talented and puts an incredible amount of passion into his creations. Sitting in the Duddell’s Salon transports guests to another world, allowing us to forget about the woes of the 21st century for awhile.
Be sure to check out the daily happy hour from 3–7pm for discounts on select cocktails and house drinks. All-you-can-eat 80s dim sum nights are from Monday–Thursday, 6–9:30pm. Advance booking is necessary.
4/F, Duddell’s, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, 2525 9191, 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.
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