At speakeasy bar Maggie Choo’s, glamour and secrecy reign supreme
On the eastern edge of bustling Hollywood Road where it intersects with Pottinger Street, there’s one special antique shopfront. Tucked away from the cluster of bars, restaurants and high-end galleries, it reignites the spirit of Hong Kong’s iconic Hollywood Road, where the vibrant global trade in Chinese and Asian antiquities once flourished.
If you can find it, you will soon realise it’s more than just an antique shop. This is Maggie Choo’s, Hong Kong’s newest beguiling nightlife destination, the brainchild of Sandeep Sekhri, a seasoned expert from the esteemed BOUTIQUE BARS global hospitality group. In collaboration with renowned architect and design visionary Ashley Sutton, whose exceptional portfolio includes extraordinary ventures like The Iron Fairies and Dragonfly, Maggie Choo’s aims to redefine the boundaries of imagination and create an unforgettable nightlife experience.
As I stepped inside the antique shop, my gaze was immediately drawn to a dazzling array of objects and artefacts, each whispering tales of times long past. Delicate porcelain pieces, vintage jewellery, bronze Buddha statues and vibrant Chinese paintings all vied for my attention. Amidst this treasure trove, my eyes were pulled to a remarkable copper artefact – an auspicious-looking lion-biting-sword sculpture. Just as I found myself entranced by its allure, a friendly hostess behind the counter broke the spell.
“Would you like to press the button?” she enquired, inviting me to unravel the mysteries concealed within the artefact. Her words sparked a sense of intrigue.
With a gentle press of my finger, a covert door materialised behind me, revealing a gateway to an alluring speakeasy. I soon realised I has became part of a fairy tale woven by Ashley Sutton where Maggie Choo, a young orphan from Shanghai, inherited her family’s antique shop and stumbled upon a hidden door leading to a secret cabaret housed in an abandoned old English bank built by the East India Company in 1847.
I was fascinated by the meticulous attention to detail in the decor of this cabaret and cocktail bar, which flawlessly captures the essence of banking history. The presence of a grand, antique-style bank-vault door, ornate colonial-style plaster moulding and a vintage clock installation all contribute to an ambience steeped in nostalgia. Moreover, two spiral iron staircases lead to an attic space adorned with vintage-style safety deposit boxes lining the walls, charging the air with a feeling of mystery and luxury.
Drawing inspiration from the whimsical tale of Maggie Choo, the bar’s cocktail menu presents a delightful fusion of classic elixirs with a modern twist. As I nestled comfortably into a plush green velvet chair, a mesmerising concoction appeared before me. Delusion (HK$170) is blended with thyme-infused pisco, pineapple juice and a hint of citrus. The subtle herbal essence of the pisco beautifully complements the tropical notes of the pineapple juice. All the signature cocktails are crafted from a bank-teller counter transformed into a cocktail bar that’s adorned with intricate metalwork and set against a backdrop of a giant vintage map.
As the night progressed and my second cocktail – the bourbon-based Visitor from the West (HK$170), mixed with ginger, passionfruit, sherry and citrus – beckoned, the visual splendor of Maggie Choo’s reached new heights. Like a spellbinding spectacle, three choreographed dancers took the floor. Their enchanting movements and ethereal presence added a touch of theatre to the opulent surroundings. After they exited gracefully from the crowd, live jazz music began to fill the air, and I allowed myself to continue to admire the glamour of a bygone era.
A selection of comfort-food bar snacks, charcuterie and cheeseboards are also available at Maggie Choo’s. These include pea guacamole (HK$98) topped with pumpkin seeds, mint and lemon, sweetcorn “ribs” (HK$78) with coriander and chilli, a charcuterie board (HK$228) featuring Apériloste chorizo, pepper-coated Galet cheese, mini stick chorizo, poultry terrine, Jesus de Lyon sausage, picos breadsticks, cornichons, pistachios and apple slices and a cheeseboard (HK$228). Whilst these sharing plates might not be deemed as highly recommended or exceptionally delicious, their availability offers a welcome range of food options to accompany patrons’ drinks.
Maggie Choo’s is an exceptional speakeasy that ignites curiosity and wonder. The combination of its unique design, intricate details, creative cocktails and live performances sets it apart as an unparalleled nightlight destination in Hong Kong.
Where: G/F, Chinachem Hollywood Centre, 1–13 Hollywood Road, Central
For reservations: WhatsApp 6250 6000
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.