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Hong Kong bar reviews

Bar review: The Old Monk Bar & Grill, Tsim Sha Tsui – Irish car bomb hits the spot

The name’s not subtle but you warm to its taste, and this drink is a better bet than the cocktails at this Hart Avenue bar - cosy, laid-back and a great spot for people-watching

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2016, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2016, 11:28am

The vibe: The Old Monk Bar & Grill, seemingly named after a notoriously strong Indian dark rum, is a casual, friendly bar on a busy Tsim Sha Tsui street corner. With panoramic open windows and a front porch, it’s a great spot for people-watching (we saw one drunken guy fall over a road sign before being helped into a taxi).

Dimly lit but not so much that you can’t read the menu, most of the walls, bar and porch are coated in rustic, dark-stained wood, which gives the place a warm, natural feel. There are video screens and soft music, but the bar also broadcasts sports games.

The drinks: although it has an extensive drinks menu, the cocktails were disappointing and we wished we’d stuck to beer and wine. Assuming it was a signature drink, we ordered an Old Monk Firewall, but it wasn’t available and the waitress didn’t know what was supposed to be in it. Our second choice was one of two “bombs” listed - the Irish car bomb (HK$89). This is half a pint of Guinness fortified with shots of Jameson’s whiskey and Baileys. Initially nose-crinkling, the taste of the curdled Baileys intensified as the glass emptied, so the drink went from bitter to smooth and warming.

With almost two dozen cocktails on the menu (all HK$89, or HK$63 during happy hour), we chose a Mojito, which had an overpowering lemonade taste. Another poor choice was the Bloody Mary, which was watery, and lacked both the kick of Worcestershire sauce and a celery stick. The Old Monk dark rum (HK$77, HK$47 during happy hour) was devilishly strong (apparently it has an alcohol content of almost 43 per cent) and pungent, with a distinctive sweet vanilla flavour.

Verdict: we didn’t try the food, but customers at the next table looked happy with their wine and rectangular pizza served on a wooden peel. Sticking to cocktails was probably a mistake, because the bar is laid-back and cosy, and its corner location makes it a great place to sit and chat over several beers.

The Old Monk Bar & Grill, The Hart, 4 Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: 2353 1271

Open: 2pm-3am or later (“it’s flexible”). Happy hour: 3pm-9pm