Drinking in Hong Kong can feel like a treasure hunt. The city is rife with obvious drinking options, from neon-bathed shot joints to craft-beer lists at street-side cafes.
On a recent trip, however, I learned that some of the town’s best bars are hidden on purpose. If you put a tiny effort into finding these three places, you will be rewarded with excellent al fresco cocktails, glasses of rare Champagnes and a Mexican cantina that’s a “must” on any visitors list.
THE CHAMPAGNE BAR AT THE GRAND HYATT
The design is an ode to a 1920s-styled Parisian parlor, with rich woods, brass accents and a giant, circular bar in the center. The small space has live jazz in the evening, and caviar and Maryland-style crab cakes are on the light food menu.
However, the real reason to come here is the extensive Champagne menu, which offers more than 35 labels by the bottle and a rotating list of 10 by the glass at a variety of price points — one of the longest in the city. If you’re looking to celebrate something with a luxury moment, the bar has a Pierre Peters, Les Chetillons, Blanc de Blancs (2004). This rare vintage, normally very hard to find by the glass, is featured here for $50 per glass or $240 for the bottle.• Details: Lobby level, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road; 011-852-2584 7722, hongkong.grand.hyattrestaurants.com
THE BACKYARD AT THE LANGHAM PLACE HOTEL
Some travelers love to shop. Others love to eat and drink. The Backyard manages to combine both in one stellar location. Located just behind a 200-store, posh shopping mall and the elegant Langham Place Hotel, this outdoor venue offers giant couches under mango trees strung with soft lights and Chinese lanterns. It’s best to head here hungry and at Happy Hour (5-9 p.m.), when you can take advantage of great deals like complimentary Champagne upgrades.• Sip: A Super Woman ($12), a mix of vodka, blueberry liqueur and grapefruit juice, takes the edge off if you spent entirely too much money shopping.
• Details: 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, Kowloon; 011-852-3552 3028, http://hongkong.langhamplacehotels.com/
Located down a dark, unmarked alley in the Central District, Brickhouse will be the hardest of this group to locate. Check out its Facebook page for a map, or simply telephone if you have problems. Once you find it, you may never want to leave. The design is an indoor-outdoor-style cantina, with lots of exposed brick and metal. The walls are covered in drawings by local graffiti artists. The menu has a nice list of tequilas and excellent Mexican food. Try the corn, which is served on a stick with chili mayo, sprinkled with cheese and lime juice. It’s a perfect accomplice to a stiff, fresh-juice Margarita.• Details: G/F, 20A D’Aguilar Street, Central; 011-852-2810 0560; www.facebook.com/brickhousehk/info; www.brickhouse.com.hk/