108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
Tel: 2261 1111
The vibe: taking up the space formerly occupied by M1NT for almost four years, Republik has a warmer, more relaxed and slightly quirkier feel. Gone are the shark tank and dark walls. The new venue has splashes of colour: modern artwork complements timber floors and stone-top benches. Floor-length windows bring in light. Slightly retro touches - such as thin metal piping, bare light bulbs, rocking chairs and motorcycle rear-view mirrors - add character to the place.
The drinks: the cocktail list is intriguing. Inspired by a love of fresh ingredients, house mixologist Matt Radalj uses herbs and spices such as basil, sage and dill, along with traditionally 'rougher' spirits, such as bourbon and whisky, to make softer drinks that pull in different flavour directions. Enter concoctions such as the Ainsbury - which combines, among other things, chamomile syrup, bourbon and apricot brandy - and the Salazar, which incorporates Grand Marnier, cardamom syrup and tequila. Another highlight is the Ohh La La La: a refreshing mix of peanut-infused Havana Club, mint, Asian herbs, lime and palm sugar. At HK$120, the cocktail prices reflect the use of premium spirits. Bottles of top-shelf liquors and champagnes are available for serious celebratory nights out. For more casual drinks, wines by the glass start from HK$85 and beers from HK$65.
The verdict: intentionally in line with the local Sheung Wan vibe, Republik has character and eclectic charm. At the same time, its subtle opulence should appeal to cosmopolitan urbanites. With plans afoot to bring in international DJs and big music acts, the venue looks set to become a popular partying and clubbing destination again. It's no longer a members-only joint - and happy hour prices, canapes and the addition of light and colour could help draw an earlier, after-work crowd.