Bar review: Wahtiki Island Lounge in Central - authentic taste of the South Pacific
Latest addition to the growing list of tiki bars in Hong Kong is welcoming and features a master mixologist with an impeccable pedigree
The vibe: the latest addition to Hong Kong’s tiki bar scene, Wahtiki Island Lounge comes with an impressive pedigree – the bar’s master mixologist Shi Wah Lee (the “Wah” in “Wahtiki”) was born in Hawaii and has 45 years of experience in tiki bars, including a spell at the storied Trader Vic’s in London’s Hilton hotel.
As you step through a nondescript door on the third floor of Seabird House, Wahtiki wafts you to the South Pacific with cane furniture, Polynesian motifs and ingenious subtle lighting which gives a feel of sunshine filtering through tropical trees. There’s food from the islands to go with the drinks, and service is welcoming. Advance bookings by phone or on Facebook are preferred.
The drinks: cocktails, cocktails, cocktails; if wine or beer (bottled Estrella Damm only) are your thing, this isn’t the place for you. The aim is to revisit the golden age of tiki and that’s where that pedigree comes in. Potent and packed with fresh fruit, these drinks bear no resemblance to the sickly sweet, watered down offerings too often sold as tiki drinks elsewhere. While prices are premium, the drinks are worth it – and not surprisingly, the recipes are closely guarded secrets.
The Rum Boogie (HK$160, rum, brandy, lime) was full-flavoured and powerful. Recommended by our waiter as a stronger version of the Mai-Tai, the wonderfully named Suffering Bastard (HK$165, light, dark and 151 Overproof rums, liqueurs, fruit juices) was strong indeed, yet well-balanced, with the 151 enhancing the other ingredients rather than overpowering them.
One of the bar’s specialities is its tropical takes on champagne cocktails, served either in a canoe with several straws for groups, or as individual drinks. Named after Trader Vic’s original California bar, the Hinky Dinks Fizzy (HK$220, gin, rum, apricot liqueur, lime, passion fruit and champagne) was the winner of the evening.
Complex, fresh and packed with intense flavours, it was delicious – and with two-for-one Happy Hour, we didn’t say no to a second glass.
The verdict: the perfect place to chill out in the evening or party late at night with gorgeous authentic drinks from a classic cocktail era and a touch of tropical sunshine.
3/F, Seabird House, 22-28 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2793 0308
Open: Mon to Thur 5.30pm-1.30am, Fri and Sat 5.30pm-2.30am
Happy hour: Mon to Thur 5.30pm-7.30pm