Bar review: Commissary in Admiralty – friendly staff, needs more atmosphere and less ice
The location is handy, the prices are reasonable and the servers are pleasant and helpful, but the drinks are spoiled by too much ice
The vibe: on the top level of Pacific Place, conveniently next to the taxi rank, Commissary’s concept is casual drinks and dining with a Southern California flavour. An outdoor terrace is a plus, if not on the rainy night we were there.
Indoors, the style is strictly utilitarian, with bare wooden tables and chairs, and there’s not much atmosphere – it feels more like a canteen than a restaurant. However, the young servers are friendly and willing to help, and if the ambience isn’t five-star, at least the prices aren’t either.
The drinks: from the list of signature cocktails, we started off with the Caramel Apple Sour (HK$100, Tanqueray, apple, lemon, salted caramel liqueur and egg white). Well-balanced and refreshing, the salted caramel added an unusual note. The slice of dried apple drizzled with caramel makes a pretty garnish – just be sure to eat it at the end, as it’s far sweeter than the drink. The Downtown Derby (HK$90, Bulleit bourbon, blood orange, honey and grapefruit bitters) was pleasant if unexciting, with the vanilla from the bourbon coming through nicely.
Just because a bar is “American” doesn’t mean you have to fill every drink with ice – of what we tried, only the Caramel Apple Sour escaped this problem.
From the range of Bloody Marys we tried the Bloody Californian (HK$105, Ocho Blanco tequila, avocado spice mix and tomato juice), which was served with a couple of nachos on top alongside the usual stick of celery. While undoubtedly spicy, the drink was one-dimensional and was packed with so much ice that by halfway through it was like drinking water.
We were pleased to see that the Cocktail of the Week was a classic which deserves to be better known, the Bronx (HK$80, Tanqueray, Carpano Dry and Classico vermouth, orange juice and bitters). Sadly, although served correctly straight up, it had been shaken too long and was thin and watery, with the orange juice dominant instead of the liquor.
The verdict: drinks need more work – and a lot less ice – but the concept of casual style and reasonable prices in this location has plenty of potential for long-term success.
Commissary, Level 4, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, tel: 2602 0707
Open: 8am-midnight (Saturday and Sunday from 11am). Happy hour: Monday to Friday 4.30pm-8pm
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