5/F Mody House
30 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2724 3828
The vibe: secluded on the fifth floor of a humdrum building, Butler transports you to one of those wonderful drinking dens in Tokyo. Most of the drinkers crammed into its compact but intimate dark-wooden interior are Japanese. There are nine seats at the bar and two small booths. In front of an impressive array of bottles, two white-jacketed and bow-tied bartenders - for once, mixologists might be a better term - shout traditional Japanese greetings. The atmosphere is convivial with lively conversation, and the focus firmly on the staff and their creative concoctions and reverentially served liquors.
The drinks: the barmen prepare each drink with the artistry of an alchemist. There is a list of dozens of cocktails, though they prefer to make each according to the 'feel of the customer', mostly for reasonable prices of HK$60-HK80. When we visited, fresh kiwi and fresh figs were used as the bases for perfectly made and beautifully served cocktails that weren't too sweet. After creating each unique cocktail, the barman licks the twizzling stick to check it's up to standard. On our visit, it invariably was. The spirit range is exhaustive and the whisky list especially good and well-priced. It can be served straight up or over hand-carved blocks of ice. The straight-up Glenfiddich 12-year-old (HK$110 for a double shot) and 10-year original cask-aged Laphroaig (HK$80 for a single) came with a shot glass of Scottish mineral water and a highball glass of the ordinary H2O. There is a range of Japanese bar nibbles and light meals to accompany the real main course - which is the drinks.
The verdict: a gem well worth checking out and - dare I say it to Hong Kong Islanders? - even worth crossing the harbour for. It's a perfect place for small groups, couples or even savouring a refined moment alone.