Hong Kong: Bar Crawl to The Old Man, Quinary, Ori-gin, Whisky and Words

The Old Man

 

Although it seemed like I just wandered around the Central district of Hong Kong, I purposefully selected the area because of the vast amount of restaurants and bars I wanted to go to were located there. While at PMQ, I noticed The Old Man was nearby. It is purportedly the best bar in Hong Kong and was just named number 10 of the World’s 50 Best Bars. 

After locating it down the stairs, I had a hard time actually opening the door. I finally resorted to knocking. It turns out there’s a simple trick to slide the door open but I only learned it later. You flip the switch up and then use it as a handle to slide the door. Fortunately knocking works when the bar is quiet. And since it just opened for the night, there were only two others at the bar.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

The Old Man is named after Hemingway. And the drinks are named after his works. For my first drink, I had A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. As I thought about how few of his books I’ve read, a pretty speckled drink appeared in front of me. I have it on the wooden part of the table for the photo but you’re supposed to keep your drinks on the metal strip running along the center of the table. It keeps the drinks cold. But the bartender will know if you haven’t sipped it in a while because it will get stuck.

The drink features sweet potato infused rye. It’s been run through a rotovap which other bars around town are calling it a re-distillation. I mostly got the sourness of the soda from this drink.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place – sweet potato rye whisky, eggplant ink, smoked pandan vermouth, raspberry vinegar soda, onion ashes

The Torrents of Spring

 

Next I had the Torrents of Spring which I was intrigued by the glutinous rice infused mezcal. However, it’s more whisky based. I liked this drink over my first one.

The Torrents of Spring – glutinous rice infused mezcal, grain whisky, Amaro Nonino, clarified Williams pear, pom-beet shrub, charcoal

I was at the bar during London Cocktail Week so the main players were out of town. I’d still return though as the bartender was very earnest (but not Ernest Hemingway) and eager to make good drinks. I also liked the room. I may have moved away from fancy mixology type drinks but I’m still interested in the process and seeing people’s creativity.

The Old Man

LG/F, 37 Aberdeen Street
鴨巴甸街37號低座地下
Hong Kong

MTR: Central, Hong Kong Island

 

Happy Cake at Quinary

 

I hadn’t initially wanted to go to Quinary as I heard it was a “mixology” bar. I wasn’t too interested in smoked or foam drinks but it turns out I loved my drink and they were very nice to accommodate a single drinker like me even though they were packed and people actually had reservations for the bar. And I felt very much at home at this bar once I observed the staff drinking Fernet-Branca and the head bartender wore a single black glove like a couple bartenders I know. These are bartender’s bartenders!

Quinary is in SoHo and is best known for their Earl Grey Caviar Martini. It’s so popular, several bars in Hong Kong have copied it (more on that later). I didn’t try it but I did get the pin!

I had a drink called the Happy Cake. In Chinese, pistachios mean happy fruit. No wonder I like pistachios! It’s one of my favorite nuts and absolutely the ice cream flavor I gravitate towards. The Happy Cake is like the best pistachio ice cream in boozy form. I’ll have to remember this drink the next time I break out the rum and genever.

Happy Cake – Bacardi carta blanca, Bols Genever, house made pistachio and pine nut orgeat, cream, milk, matcha powder

Earl Grey Caviarr Martini pin from Quinary

 

In front of Quinary is a giant coin operated machine. For two Hong Kong $10 coins (that would be $20), you an try your luck for a free pin, drink or more. My luck held and I got a pin. Although I would have not minded a free drink!

 

Quinary 

G/F, Felicity Building, 54-58 Hollywood Road
荷李活道54-58號中發大廈地下
Hong Kong  —  852 2851 3223

MTR:  Central, Hong Kong Island

 

Earl Grey martini at Ori-gin

 

During the day, I had spotted Ori-gin and made a note to come back to try it. it was on my list of gin bars to try in Hong Kong. I thought it was interesting they had an Earl Grey Martini on the menu like Quinary. It turns out it’s run by the same group which is headed by Hong Kong’s star bartender Antonio Lai. He also has the program at the Envoy and Rom 309. I also tried to go to Angel’s Share which he has a hand in as well but it wasn’t open when I stopped by (note a lot of bars don’t open until 5 or 6).

This Earl Grey martini is known as the “Classic” Earl Grey martini and doesn’t contain the caviar at Quinary. In fact, it’s pretty different. The tea is “cooked’ or infused into the gin.

Earl Grey Martini – Earl Grey tea infused Tanqueray gin, Cointreau, simple syrup, egg white, lemon

Ori-gin While I appreciate the snacks at Hong Kong bars, I probably should have gotten something more savory to go with the strongly flavored onion chips.

The bar itself reminded me a bit of Bar Kitchen at Hotel O in Los Angeles. I liked the space quite a bit.

 

G/F, 48 Wyndham Street
雲咸街48號地下
Hong Kong  —  852 2668 5583

MTR: Central, Hong Kong Island

 

No Woman No Rye

 

I heard about Whisky and Words from a bartender friend in Hong Kong. It just opened within days of my arrival and I was up to checking out the new bar. The first part of the menu are a bunch of whiskys they have. You have to check out the back pages for the cocktails. I ordered No Woman No Rye which is essentially their take on an Old Fashioned whisky cocktail.

The bar was a bit awkward and I felt a bit hemmed in. It would be much better to sit at a hightop table but I like bars and I like watching bartenders make drinks. It’s nice to have a chat too. However, this was the only bar I visited with a friend (yes, I went to 14 others by myself!) so I didn’t have time to get the full backstory on the concept.

I’d give them some time to settle into a groove. Or as my bartender friend said, “you can always go to COA across the way.”

 

Whisky & Words

7, G/F, 9 Shin Hing St, Central, Hong Kong  —  852 9889 8590

MTR: Central, Hong Kong Island

 

 

© 2018 The Minty

*** For my Hong Kong posts, I will provide the address in both English and Chinese as well as the MTR (subway) stop if available. 

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