Dragon's Back

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 July, 2011, 12:00am


The transformation of a cop shop to top people's shops and boutique hotel at Hullett House in Tsim Sha Tsui also saw the creation of a new cocktail imbued with Hong Kong heritage and flavours.

The former marine police headquarters that houses the development has a long history - for a Hong Kong building. Dating to 1881, it is one of the four oldest surviving government buildings in the territory.

The name of the hotel is also intimately related to Hong Kong's history. Richmond William Hullett was the English botanist who identified the bauhinia, the tree whose pink, orchid-like flowers have been the territory's symbol since 1965.

All the rooms in the hotel are named for districts of Hong Kong and reflect periods of Hong Kong design, from the 1930s Shanghai sleaze of the Pui O Suite to the reserved Englishness of the D'Aguilar Suite - clearly named for the bay, itself named after one of the early colonial governors and not the rowdy, brash street that leads to Lan Kwai Fong, which also once housed Filipino national hero Jose Rizal's doctor's clinic.

History is also revisited in one of the hotel's bars - The Parlour, which has a serious dose of Orientalism. Are we in the Regency England of Brighton Pavilion or ancient Hong Kong and its dragon-laden mythology? The murals and carvings suggest both.

Either way, this is the venue that spawned two drinks: the signature dragon's back cocktail and the spice island.

The dragon's back, which takes its name from one of Hong Kong's most famous hills, mixes the buzz of champagne with the kick of vodka and the tart, refreshing and sweet flavours of lychee liqueur and strawberries.

(The spice island is a mix of vodka, lemon juice, pineapple juice and pepper - reminiscent of Hong Kong's racier side.)

Compare the dragon's back with the classic champagne cocktail - a combination of brandy and champagne with Angostura bitters and a sugar cube for a potent sweet, bitter and refreshing aperitif.

Reinforcing the flavour of Hong Kong and for added dramatic visual appeal in the dragon's back is dragon fruit as ingredient and garnish.

Clearly this drink wasn't created off the (hand) cuff.