Bar review: Ophelia in Wan Chai – heavy on the concept, light on the flavours
Bangkok bar king Ashley Sutton’s opulent and lush venue falls down with its whimsically named but ultimately uninteresting and tasteless cocktails
The vibe: Ophelia is the much anticipated first Hong Kong venture by Ashley Sutton, the man behind some of Bangkok’s hottest hang outs and known for his unique concept bars. Money, time and effort have clearly been lavished on Ophelia, where the themes are peacocks and the exotic East (for those who like that kind of thing, there’s a back story about a bird collector called Mr Wong and a Javanese peacock called Ophelia). Colours are muted greens and blues, with peacock feather motifs, beaded curtains, giant birdcages and swings on which patrons can pose for pictures. Opulent and lush, the dimly lit, plushly furnished rooms feel as if you’ve strayed into in an exotic house of ill repute circa 1900.
The drinks: coyly entitled Ophelia’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the signature cocktail list features drinks with whimsical names accompanied by daffy quotes. The drinks sounded intriguing – on paper. A good cocktail should be more than the sum of its parts and none of the ones we tried came close to passing that test.
Jewelled Wing “Her dream came upon it” (HK$135, Ketel One vodka, lychee cordial, house infused sake, ylang-ylang mist) was sweet and smelt of ylang-ylang but had no depth or balance. Cheongasm “Her dress caused quite the commotion” (HK$130, tequila reposado, pomegranate cordial, red vermouth, lemon, lime, cinnamon mist) was equally one-dimensional. A small portion of liquor at the bottom of a mountain of ice, it was thin, medicinal and not remotely orgasmic.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner “On the Wing of the Albatross” (HK$165, El Dorado 8, Blackwell Jamaican, Bacardi 151, grapefruit, Drunken Passion Fruit Spoon, lime, thyme syrup), was helped by a request for less ice (complied with despite the waiter’s huffy warning that it was a “strong” drink). Strong, it was – all you could taste was rum. It would have been better if the half passion fruit floating on top had been mixed in.
The verdict: fantasy fulfilment or pretentious and overpriced – it’s all a matter of taste and Ophelia is certainly packing in punters eager for the Ashley Sutton experience. It seems the no-smoking laws don’t apply in Ophelia-land, judging by the ashtrays on the tables and the number of people smoking.
Shop 41A, 1/F The Avenue, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
Tel: 2520 1117
Open: Tuesday to Thursday 6pm-2am, Friday and Saturday 6pm-4am