Bar review: Club Qing, Lan Kwai Fong - snug spot for serious whisky drinkers
Soothing space far removed from loud Lan Kwai Fong below offers an impressive range of whiskies, especially Japanese ones, and the staff are both knowledgable and passionate
The vibe: snug and softly lit with low, comfortable chairs, Club Qing does indeed have a club-like atmosphere - so quiet that it comes as a shock to emerge into the bedlam of Lan Kwai Fong 10 floors below. Clients seem to be mostly regulars, as the place fills up after 9pm, and patrons get a warm welcome from the lively lady manager, a Japanese-style touch which fits the bar’s focus on Japanese whiskies.
The drinks: Club Qing takes whisky seriously. The range is impressively comprehensive, especially from Japan, and includes rare bottles from legendary, defunct distilleries such as Karuizawa and Port Ellen. You can drink by the glass or choose from tasting sets of three or four whiskies which offer an ideal way to explore different distilleries or styles (fruity and floral, smoky and peaty…). You can even try your hand at creating your own blend with the Blend It Yourself set (HK$188).
Staff are knowledgeable and passionate about their product. We started off with the waiter’s recommendation - Islay New Filling Malt by Samaroli (HK$138). A unique offering created by leading independent bottler Samaroli, it was sharp and fresh yet elegant. Next up was the 12-year-old Yoichi Peaty & Salty (HK$168) from Hokkaido, the only part of Japan where peat occurs naturally. This rich, full-bodied, sherry-cask-aged offering was indeed intensely peaty, although we didn’t detect much saltiness. The bartender recommended a Scotch single malt, the Caol Ila 24 Years from the Cadenhead Small Batch series - a sumptuous, complex whisky with delicate notes of honey and apricot on the nose, vanilla and smoke in the mouth and a long smoky aftertaste.
If you don’t want whisky, options are limited – other premium spirits aren’t on offer and the small range of signature cocktails sound alarmingly sweet, chocolate being a favourite ingredient. However, there’s a good list of unusual craft beers and it was a nice surprise when the house white wine (HK$98) turned out to be a high-quality sauvignon blanc from Menetou-Salon in the Loire Valley.
The verdict: a great place to sit and sip whisky in a relaxed, soothing atmosphere.
Club Qing, 10/F Cosmos Building, 8-11 Lan Kwai Fong, Central. Tel: 9379 7628. Open: Monday to Saturday 6pm-1am