Bar review: Republic Bar & Lounge, SoHo - cocktail’s golden age relived
With an art deco theme, classic drinks, and more class than a private school, this is one pleasurable place to while away the hours either on a comfy sofa or on the balcony people-watching
The vibe: speakeasy concept Republic sets out to take you back to the 1930s and the snug, laid-back lounge succeeds in making you feel as if William Powell and Myrna Loy just might walk in any moment. The art deco theme is nicely carried through, from the leather furniture to the glassware to the lettering on the drinks list. Music is traditional jazz – soft enough to hear yourself speak, although it gets cranked up to something more modern late at night and has a DJ on weekends.
The drinks: in keeping with the house style, the accent is on the classics. With Powell and Loy in mind, martinis (HK$88) were a must and we ordered one with gin and one with vodka. Bartender Geneviève knows her stuff and both versions were perfectly mixed – authentically dry, with just the right amount of vermouth and no dilution from excessive shaking with ice. The Negroni (HK$88, not on the standard list) was equally good.
There are also three signature cocktails, of which we tried two. The Empire (HK$168, Hansom of Sonoma Ginger Vodka, champagne, fresh orange juice, muddled ginger, Black Walnut bitters), was genuinely original – dry, elegant and complex with delicate hints of ginger and walnut. The Otto Walker (HK$178, Harley Davidson Moonshine, Fireball Whiskey, Triple Sec, Amaretto, cranberry juice) was less successful – overly sweet, with flavours blurring rather than blending.
The verdict: in the parlance of the period, Republic is a classy joint. If you yearn for the golden age of cocktails, it’s a pleasurable place to while away the hours on a comfy sofa indoors or watching the world go by from the balcony overlooking Elgin Street.
Republic Bar & Lounge, 1/F The Elgin, 51 Elgin Street, SoHo, Tel: 2670 0698
Open: Monday to Saturday 5pm-4am. Happy hour: Monday-Friday 5pm-8pm