Bar review: McSorley’s Ale House in SoHo – Irish sports bar with focus on whiskey, poitín and beer
Friendly, relaxed and comfortable watering hole in SoHo serving Irish spirits, Australian wines, a few cocktails and a reasonable selection of craft beer
The vibe: Irish pub meets multiple screen sports bar. There are branches of McSorley’s in Discovery Bay and Macau, but this is a more compact operation, with an open front, and the slightly overloud background music-with-a-mechanical-beat aesthetic of a lot of SoHo watering holes. When I dropped in an Indian buffet was being served, and the aroma of the spices was pleasantly pervasive.
Staff are friendly, the bar furniture is comfortable, and the management seems to be working to establish a clientele of regulars with promotions such as quiz nights and curry evenings.
The drinks: the emphasis is on beer and whisky with, as you would expect, a slant towards Irish whiskey in particular.
The wine list is short and Australian-dominated, but fairly modestly priced for the area, ranging from HK$65 to HK$80 per glass. If you want to bring your own, corkage is advertised at HK$150 per bottle.
The craft beer selection is not extensive by the standards of SoHo’s other specialists, but is respectable, with interesting options from Spain, the UK, New Zealand Austria, Germany and Hong Kong, although the house’s own draught McSorley’s Ale (HK$75) struck me as unremarkable.
The whisky list offers more original choices. As well as 13 Irish whiskeys, and a good Scotch and American selection the bar has India’s Amrut (HK$110), Taiwan’s Kavalan Concertmaster (HK$120) and Japan’s Taketsuru (HK$130).
Irish tipples seemed to be appropriate so I tried a couple from Teeling – Spirit of Dublin Poitín (HK$60) and Small Batch Whiskey (HK$80). Poitín is an unaged spirit in the tradition of illegally home-distilled Irish moonshine, and it packs a considerable punch, but is surprisingly smooth for a spirit that has had no benefit from barrel ageing. It is called poitín rather than whiskey because without three years in a barrel it can’t legally be sold under that name.
The Small Batch whiskey, bottled at 46 per cent alcohol is a blended spirit, and matured in rum casks, producing an attractively sweet spiciness. The bar poured good measures of both.
Cocktails aren’t really the thing here, but you can choose from a selection of 10, all made with Bushmills Original. It was a hot day, so an Iced Irish Coffee (HK$88) to conclude seemed like a good idea – although it turned out not to be. Once again my bartender poured a good shot of spirit, but the coffee still drowned it entirely, and the cream came from a canister.
The verdict: McSorley’s returns to Soho with a friendly local watering hole. If you like sports bars in general you will probably like this.
McSorley’s Ale House, 46 Staunton Street, SoHo, tel: 2385 5515
Open: Mon to Fri 3pm-midnight; Sat, Sun and public holidays 11am-1am.
Happy hour: Mon to Fri 3pm-8pm
While you’re in the area