11-13 Old Bailey Street, Central
Tel: 2521 2033
The vibe: if there were a competition for Hong Kong's hottest bar of the summer, New York transplant Fatty Crab would be in the running. With much attention being paid to its restaurant next door, the bar, oozing Manhattan loft chic, has quietly become one of the hottest in the city. This is a "beautiful people" place, but the laid-back staff and a soundtrack heavy on Notorious BIG make sure any pretension is cut with a healthy dose of boozy good time vibes.
The drinks: with the bar boasting top shelf labels and the talents of deft mixologists, many, ourselves included, flock to Fatty Crab for the Pickle Backs - a shot of bourbon chased with a shot of pickle brine that's made in-house with Southeast Asian spices and Thai chillies. These are dangerously easy to drink so be sure to pace yourself. The cocktail menu highlights an ever-changing selection of classic cocktails with contemporary, Hong Kong specific twists. The New Territories (HK$130), for example, is a potent concoction of rye whiskey, Amaro Averna and Pedro Ximenez sherry infused with ancho chilli. The drink was a hit, described by our date as "like Jack [Daniel's] and coke - in a good way". Another popular order is the Prison Sex (HK$120), a light and fruity summer cocktail of sake, house-made strawberry shrub syrup, lemon juice and cava, which takes its racy name from the old prison across the street. It was a favourite of some but too weak for others who preferred the more adult flavours of the Where's Wallace (HK$115), a sophisticated mix of Thai chilli infused tequila blanco, Manzanilla sherry, fresh celery juice, lime juice and salt.
The verdict: although initially apprehensive, after a wild night at "the Crab" we buy the hype.
Dress to impress and prepare for a sizeable bar tab - and a hangover the next day.