Everyone makes a fuss about rooftop bars in Hong Kong. Yes, you can get an eyeful of the harbour – but every top floor bar hopper with an iPhone will be heading there to elbow you out of the way for a selfie. By all means sip a cocktail in our top pick, but delving into Hong Kong’s hidden bars could be far more rewarding.
Secret codes and concealed doorways make that perfectly mixed cocktail – or nip of scotch – all the more rewarding. Neon lit spaces, luxe lounges and industrial chic spots are all on the menu too. Drop into some of these sophisticated spots for the ultimate Hong Kong nightlife experience.
Hong Kong’s best bars
TAP - The Ale Project
Can any beer bar in Hong Kong match TAP on beers? Unlikely. Kowloon’s first craft ale taproom is giving off some major artisanal vibes in a very industrial-chic setting.
Everything on the menu gets the hand-crafted tag – from the sourdough breads wrapped around some very tempting burgers, to the fresh brews conjured up by local ale wizards. Yes, the aesthetic is a little jarring if you’re more keen on supping ales in a log-fired, local pub nook, but these guys know their pints. Pop in for a browse of their extensive beer menu. Then try not to lust after their steel-clad beer tap wall. It’s a thing of beauty.
Orbzii tip: TAP has two locations – one in Mong Kok and another at The Mills in Tsuen Wan. If you spot one of their taprooms, do nip in, whatever time of day. Their soft drinks and food menu stand just as strong as their beers.
If you like your oak barrel-aged cocktails served with a sidecar of stunning views of the city, run – don’t walk – to the Kerry Hotel. On the rooftop you’ll find Red Sugar, a candlelit garden terrace that overlooks Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour.
Plan to stay a while. This is the kind of venue that serves gin & tonic by the pitcher. 1.5 litres of anything they serve is going to need savouring. Best paired with some of Red Sugar’s bar snacks – we can’t fault the manchego cheese and truffle toasties.
We would say this is the ideal spot to start your exploration of the nightlife in Hong Kong. But, then Red Sugar reel you in further with live DJ sets. Stay a while, and – if things get chilly – their indoor space is just as alluring. Best rooftop bar in Hong Kong? We challenge you to find a better spot.
Orbzii tip: Want to watch Hong Kong’s light show, the Symphony of Lights, but don’t want to hang about on the Avenue of Stars? Grab a seat closest to the water around 8pm to catch a glimpse of the nightly spectacular.
If a Hollywood director were to picture a bar where their achingly cool protagonist – and ultimate hero – would hang out, they’d picture The Pontiac.
Rough around the edges, the kind of place where you’d expect the music to stop as you – a stranger – walks in. At this point you could be tempted to pass by and sup your drinks in a sleek Hong Kong spot instead. But oh boy would you be missing out. Americana, attitude and urban grunge are a welcome change from the slick and overly polished experiences you’ll find elsewhere.
Best of all, the drinks here far exceed anything you’d ever taste in a typical dive bar.
Hong Kong’s best hidden bars
Rarely will we direct you to a mall to start a stellar night out. But trust us on this one. Head to Landmark mall’s atrium – you’re looking for a door marked ‘waiting room’ – with a miniature door right next to it that says ‘Dr Fern’s’.
Enter the waiting room and you’re in good hands. The good doctor is undoubtedly an ‘eccentric physician’, as all of the ‘prescriptions’ are botanical concoctions from his gin collection. Cocktails feature too, as do some edible prescriptions and botanical teas.
Expect junipery, citrusy, spicy, sweet and savoury notes to wow your tastebuds.
Orbzii tip: Don’t miss Gin O’Clock. From 5pm – 7pm, the Dr reduces prescriptions charges to a more wallet-friendly price.
Please Don’t Tell
Despite the title, this is one of the worst kept secrets in Hong Kong. Disclaimer aside, you’re still going to want to take a look.
Your first destination, the Mandarin Oriental’s bar – MO Bar. Once there, you’re looking for a phone booth. Step inside – dial ‘1’ and the small, but perfectly formed cocktail bar that is Please Don’t Tell reveals itself.
There’s space for 25 guests – so not too cramped. Why are you here? For Michelin-starred chef snack creations and cocktail mixology by legends on the scene Jeff Bell and Jim Meehan. Yes, the food menu is mainly hot dogs and burgers – but these are flavour sensations that really level up the junk food from guilty pleasure to gastro grub.
Orbzii tip: The cocktails are seasonal creations that are only served at PDT. So if you do manage to track down that phone booth, do indulge in whatever you fancy – it might not be on the menu on your next visit!
Hong Kong’s best clubs
You’ll need to bust out your most polished lewks for a chance to sashay through the doors at Dragon-i. Possibly Hong Kong’s strictest club, in terms of dress code, you’re definitely not coming in if you’re not dressed to kill. Since 1967, the club’s clientele has always been A-list, but now the music invariably leans a little in the dance direction. Dragon-i regularly brings big names to the booth. And, if you want to sample a little of their luxe life, before anything gets too rowdy? Swing by the restaurant for some seriously tempting dishes.
Orbzii tip: Perhaps don’t bring your autograph book to Dragon-i, but do prepare to keep your cool around some famous faces. The guest list has seen the likes of Flo Rida, Sting, Kelis and umm… Hugh Grant nip into a VIP booth in the past.
Let’s face it, we don’t all dance to the same beat. So it’s always a plus to find a venue that caters to the more niche end of the muso market. And up steps Drop. Yes, classic house is their bread and butter, but garage and nu-jazz do find their way into the mix.
An impressive stable of resident DJs, an eclectic crowd and regular appearances by A-listers looking to party in Hong Kong’s premier house destination makes Drop a must on a night out.
Orbzii tip: Early in the evening, Drop’s vibe tends towards sophisticated cocktails and chill out tunes for the after-work / post-dinner crowd. A definite spot to see and be seen.