Bar review: Carnival in Tsim Sha Tsui – fun concept and photogenic cocktails
With its funfair themed drinks, games and decor, Carnival is a massive space aimed at mainland tourists and people who love to party. However, the service is slow and the refusal to run tabs may put some customers off
The vibe: Carnival occupies a huge (5,188 sq ft) space on the 6th floor of 8 Observatory Road, in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui’s newest mini-hub of restaurants and bars. Not surprisingly, given the location, it’s aimed squarely at attracting young, well-heeled punters with a definite nod to those from the mainland. The funfair concept is cleverly incorporated in the décor, and beer pong and other bar games are a major feature. A multitude of video screens play international pop hits at full volume and sports with the volume off. Staff wear flashing neon name badges and look so young I wondered if some of them could have bought a drink legally themselves.
The drinks: this is a place to party and there’s a range of packages based on games or on spirits and champagne by the bottle as well as a selection of shots, with inventively presented cocktail following the funfair theme. Ferris Wheel (12 for HK$688, Kwai Feh Lychee liquor, grape leaf liquor, Campari, syrup and candyfloss) comes on a miniature ferris wheel, while the Bloody Mary-based Merry-Go-Round (eight for HK$358) is on – you guessed it – a miniature merry-go-round.
While beers are limited to big brand names, at least some are on draught, among them Carlsberg at
HK$78 for a pint. Most cocktails are designed to be photographed as much as drunk and focus on sugary ingredients including candyfloss and popping candy (the latter in a drink called the Merry Poppins). The Amaretto Sour (HK$98, Amaretto, yuzu, bitters) was refreshing, with a good hit of yuzu, if little trace of alcohol. The Carnival Spritzer (HK$98, gin, house-made fig syrup, lemon juice, grenadine, soda) was much stronger, but the intriguing-sounding fig wasn’t really detectable.
The place was pretty empty while we were there, but service was painfully slow. Irritatingly, instead of getting your bill at the end of the night, each round of drinks has to be paid for separately and while a traditional funfair carton of nibbles is a cute touch, customers should be warned it’ll cost them HK$30.
The verdict: Carnival’s generous space and original, well-executed concept make it as a good a place as any to party with friends if all-night sessions of shots, darts and beer pong are your thing.
6/F, 8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 3705 3985
Happy hour: 6pm-9pm