Hong Kong bar reviews

Bar review: Cé La Vi in LKF - a great place to see and be seen, but let down by drinks

Fantastic location and decor and a roof garden, but the only safe drink is the champagne

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2015, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2016, 2:08pm

The vibe: with a prime location at the top of Lan Kwai Fong’s California Tower, the Hong Kong branch of the Cé La Vi (formerly Ku Dé Ta) family is the latest hotspot for Hong Kong’s glitterati to see and be seen. The roof garden Skybar has spectacular city views and a jacuzzi for those “let’s take off our clothes and jump in” moments. Downstairs you can dine in the restaurant or dance till you drop in the sleek and spacious Club Lounge with its roster of top DJs.

The drinks: according to Cé La Vi’s PR material, the French phrase “c’est la vie” means “this is the life”. Ironically, what  it actually means is “that’s life” (with a wry Gallic shrug of the shoulders) as in “too bad” – which reflects much of the experience.

A lengthy list (like menus, rarely a good sign) of signature cocktails is presented with much fanfare.

The Berry Cobbler (HK$118, Tanqueray 10 gin, crème de mure, blackberry, lime and honey) was pleasant, innocuous and not too sweet but the Negroni Classic (HK$108) was unbalanced, with Campari drowning out the other ingredients. The Godzilla Gimlet (HK$108, gin, shiso and lime cordial, celery bitters) went badly wrong. The shiso and lime were undetectable, the celery overpowering and the gin cloying.

Switching to simpler things, the best drink of the night was the house champagne – the ever-excellent Roederer Brut (HK$178). However, a pinot grigio (HK$138) came in a glass which smelt as if it had been wiped with a dirty dishcloth. The helpful waiter changed it not just once but (on his own initiative) twice – good service which didn’t alter the fact that the glass should be clean to start with.

The verdict: if you want to be in with the in-crowd, Cé La Vi is the place to go – it will please its target clientele of conspicuous consumers and the rooftop is a great spot to chill out. If you’re more into high-quality mixology than the high life, there are better options elsewhere.

Cé La Vi, 25/F, California Tower, 30-36 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, tel: 3700 2300  

Open: noon to late