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Hong Kong bar reviews

Bar review: Red Sugar – a sweet experience with friendly staff and impressive drinks list

An outdoor terrace and harbour view enhance the appeal of this Hung Hom hotel venue where a New Orleans-style Vieux Carré stands out among a winning cocktail, wine and whisky selection

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 4:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 4:03pm

The vibe: the spacious outdoor terrace is one big attraction, but the lone barfly can take in a perfectly acceptable harbour view, nicely interspersed with interesting bottles, just sitting at the bar and chatting with the very friendly and knowledgeable bar staff. For couples and larger groups there are plenty of comfortable chairs and tables. By day the atmosphere is intended to have an “urban resort” atmosphere. When the sun goes down, the indoor space becomes more of a sophisticated cocktail lounge and the music, some of it live, gets a little louder.

The drinks: a serious drinks list, which, given the surroundings, is surprisingly reasonably priced. It is divided into sections which cover most current trends – barrel-aged cocktails, modern classics and light or zero-alcohol cocktails. There is also a decent wine selection, and a good choice across a range of spirit categories, including mezcals and piscos.

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The international whisky selection is strong on Asian entries, with Japan, Taiwan and India all well represented, alongside Scotch single malts and premium blends, and small-batch North American spirits. A modest but well-chosen beer list includes local microbreweries.

The Asian Delight (HK$98) made with silver tequila, yuzu lime juice, guava juice and a house-made “Asian syrup” which adds a little spice, is a good early evening sharpener.

The Plymouth gin, Campari and sweet vermouth in the Barrel-Aged Negroni (HK$108) have spent eight weeks getting to know each other, and get along splendidly. Just the right degree of bitterness.

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I bonded with my bartender over the Oaxaca Old Fashioned (HK$98) from the “Modern Classic” section of the list. She taught me how to make one, and I taught her how to pronounce Oaxaca – quite possibly wrongly. As I understand it it’s “Wah!” as in the Cantonese exclamation, and “hacker” as in somebody trying to break into your computer. If you’re trying this at home you need reposado tequila, mezcal, agave nectar and Angostura bitters, but far better let them mix it for you here.

The piece de resistance, though, was an authentically New Orleans-style Vieux Carré (HK$118), made with Martell Noblige cognac, Michter’s Rye, Dom Benedictine, sweet vermouth and Peychaud and Angostura bitters. That was also on the “Barrel-Aged” list, but the available batch hadn’t yet had the requisite three weeks in the wood. I settled for a non aged version which was still rich, complex and satisfying.

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There are also “Contemporary Fun” cocktails with elements of novelty presentation, and some “To-Go” which you can carry out in a bottle, but the setting is as much the point as the drinks.

The verdict: right from the start this is one of the best hotel cocktail bars on the Kowloon side of the harbour. Quite far from the bright lights, but a good spot from which to look at them.

Red Sugar

7/F, Kerry Hotel, 38 Hung Luen Road, Hung Hom

Tel: 2252 5279

Open: Sunday to Thursday 11.30am-midnight, Friday, Saturday and public holidays 6pm-2am.