Hong Kong bar reviews

Bar review: Moonshine and the Po’Boys in Wan Chai struggles to keep up with its own success

Busy bar but organisation needs overhauling to capitalise

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 December, 2015, 8:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2016, 2:14pm

The vibe:“Southern Comfort Food and Bourbon Bar”, Moonshine and The Po’Boys occupies one end of tiny, pedestrian-only Sun Street, one of the more atmospheric corners of our city. There’s an imaginative Louisiana-inspired décor, a bustling open kitchen and live music (although it’s not New Orleans jazz) from a singer/guitarist perched dizzily in a caged enclosure on the first floor. Soon after opening, the place is packed and booking is essential – if you can’t get in there’s space to drink outside (although, this being Hong Kong, there are no tables or chairs and a sign reminds everyone to keep the noise down after 10pm).

The drinks: signature cocktails are mostly bourbon- or rye-based and run from sweet to very sweet (two even include ice cream). We tried four (HK$120 each).

The Barrel Aged Boulevardier (rye whiskey, Campari, Dom Benedictine) and Spicy Old Fashioned (Jim Beam, spicy bitter, sugar) tasted almost identical except that one had a bitter aftertaste, the other a spicy one. The Chai Tea Cajun Julep (Jim Beam, mint, chai tea, Absolut Kurant, syrup) was refreshing, if light, with a nice hint of blackcurrant. The Thyme & Apple (vodka, thyme syrup, green apple schnapps, sweet & sour) was heavy on the thyme and somewhat cloying.

None of the drinks were sufficiently balanced or complex and when we asked for a simple Margarita we were told they couldn’t do it if it wasn’t on the signature list. It all left us feeling that more expertise is needed behind the bar – a pity since it stocks some real gems. My companion had a birthday dram of 60-year-old Lagavulin single malt (HK$150) which was exquisite despite being served in a cracked glass. While this was promptly replaced it added to the feeling that the place is struggling to keep up with its own success.

Beer drinkers are on safer ground with a good selection of craft beers from Canada and the US, drunk straight from the bottle. We enjoyed the Steamworks Killer Cucumber Ale (HK$80) – flowery and fruity with an intriguing touch of cucumber.

The verdict: scoring strongly on concept and ambience, Moonshine and The Po’Boys is clearly having teething troubles. Improvement is needed on organisation (they were short-staffed and service was painfully slow) and on the drinks, especially since prices are high for a casual environment.

Moonshine & The Po’Boys

4 Sun Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2776 2668

Open: noon-11pm