We’ve long had the urge to party in Hong Kong, but just didn’t know where to go that didn't involve feeling a) like we were Benjamin Buttoning and reliving the university years 10 years on b) like we should be dishing out assault charges after being verbally abused by uptight bouncers (Geronimo's we are looking at you) or c) a certain disappointment that the weekend's zenith occurs on the corner of Club 7 Eleven. This is why we can't have nice things.
Though we love Dragon-i/Dusk till Dawn/Ned Kelly's as much as the next entirely calculable Konger on a Friday night, HK has recently shifted focus to the likes of high-end Tiki rooftops, Berlin-themed basement bars and a Mexican grotto that just won’t stop, among others. Here are 6 of our favourites:
What makes Mitte cool is that it is in no way trying to be cool, but like most of Berlin, simply is. Italian founders decided they were sick of the poor attempts this city makes at playing ‘good music’ (we’re 75% appalled by the music played in most HK bars, 20% surprised by how much we like the new Justin Bieber song, 99% delighted someone went about changing it and 100% unsure how math works) and acquired first class speakers, sound proofed everything, produced a schedule of rotating DJs and made sure an Italian chef was making gracefully simple food. The result is a bar you want to spend the whole night in, eating the creamiest burrata, sipping specialist negronis and elderflower spritzes and listening to perfectly mixed techno and smooth soul by the likes of DJs Jay Shepheard and singer EKA.
1A Upper Station Street Sheung Wan, Hong Kong +852 2803 7080
Hours: Tues - Sat 5pm - 12am. Closed: Sun & Mon
Three words: The Midnight Hour. Which, if you have little regard for your liver, spell doom, but for all others, attractive men and women Coyote Ugly-ing on the bar feeding the people shots means a damn good time. Really, The Pontiac is a good time for everyone involved. Situated next to Fatty Crab, it's a newish (two months) drinking hole fashioned after the neighbourhood bars of Portland, Brooklyn and San Francisco. It's a bar with soul. It's the kind of place where everybody will soon know your name and might even be glad you came.
The Pontiac and the charmers who run it are bringing some indie-vivacity to us with heart and a whole bunch of fun. The jukebox is rad, the bar doubles as a midnight hour stage and the drinks won't, for the most part, leave much of a headache the next day, such is the quality of spirits utilised. Balanced, unusual elixirs provide for the perfect fuel for any kind of night.
13 Old Bailey Street, Central. +852 2521 3855
Hours: Mon - Sat 3pm - 1am
Say Tiki and we think Donn Beach and too much wicker. Not so any more, with the reinvention of the beloved 30s/50s/70s concept in more sophisticated form at Mahalo, a rooftop bar in Wanchai. They're always hosting upbeat party-parties (which are parties where people actually come and dance and drink and meet people, rather than those where they come and stand awkwardly and leave quickly; we hate those parties) with themes like 'Jungle' that bring with them DJs and/or live music.
Begun by the owners of Honi Honi, the other Tiki bar in Hong Kong which has been much loved since its opening, the atmosphere manages to be both high-end and relaxed, and drinks match this effort, which we've gathered should be called Tiki-chic. Though they’re pricey and potent, the pina colada can be drunk for days (danger) and the shareable rum punches deserve a round when with a big group of friends. Or an average-sized group of friends. Or one friend. Actually just go and order a sizable watermelon filled with alcohol just for yourself, because you’re worth it.
29F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queens Road East, Wan Chai +852 2488 8750
Hours: Mon - Thurs 12pm - 2am. Fri: 12pm - 3am. Sat: 6pm - 3am. Sun: 4pm-12am
While whisky is making a name for itself, and vermouth goes beyond the martini, at El Loco Gringo, good ole tequila still reigns supreme. It is in this underground Mexican chamber that four essential elements to partying intersect; aforementioned tequila, a playlist with tracks that transport back to the 90s, Mexican street food like corn with manchego and chilli and Chilean sea bass tacos, and the fact that everyone dances on tables. Everyone.
The food is on point, and some of the best Mexican street food in Hong Kong. The drinks are sweet, which is exactly what assists the buzz. And the staff, they’re the first ones turning the tables into the dance floor (after ensuring everyone is wearing appropriate footwear to do so).
49 Bonham Road, Sai Ying Pun +852 2858 8833
Hours: Daily 6pm - 1am
One year old Rummin’ Tings is still quite in its infancy, having been birthed on the 6th of October 2014. It since then has established a reputation as though it has been around for years, and won the Foodie Forks Award for Best New Bar this year. Still playing some of the best music in Hong Kong, scoot here on a Friday, Saturday, Tuesday or Thursday (we’ve done all) and you are guaranteed to find cool people, jams that range from Caribbean funk to 90s R&B, our girl Reanne who will fix you your drank and can shake it like few people we know and a coconut filled with rum and coconut water. Yes, that means you're hydrating and dehydrating in equal proportions. Result.
We love Rummin’ Tings and it has become a faithful waterhole, alive with the frenetic energy that spills out into the streets and represents exactly the vitality that Hong Kong is known for. Always filled with the kind of people you want to meet and, bonus, the kitchen is one of the few open every night until 2am.
G/F, 28 Hollywood Road, +852 2523 7070
Hours: Mon - Sat 12pm - 2am
Difficult to say but easy to remember, Djiboutii (jib-oot-ee) hides out in an alleyway in Wan Chai, and somehow is able to pump tunes at extraordinary levels without receiving noise complaints. While once we lamented the lack of bars in that wouldn't immediately incur social scrutiny upon entry, or that had bar snacks outside the realms of mixed nuts that threaten us with coliforms and Escherichia coli, there is now distinct appeal to having a drink in Wan Chai.
We love the stone-baked organic Za’taar flatbread, spiced handcut fries with homemade garlicnaise and juicy rotisserie chicken, and can overlook the fact that everything is bathed in a resplendent purple hue. A lot of fresh juices are used in the cocktails, which for the most part are pretty balanced, and there always seems to be loads of people here, even at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon, when the rest of Hong Kong is still nursing injuries from the night before. Just make sure you come on a day when the DJ's are rocking new mixes or when they have a saxophonist in town.