Bar review: 99 bottles in Central – drinks cheaper than most happy hours in an unpretentious setting
This no-frills bar serves up a decent selection of draught and bottled beers, shots and wines, all at very reasonable prices, so come early and grab a barstool
The vibe: a no-frills beer bar cum bottle shop with an emphasis on value for money rather than interior design. It’s utilitarian, uncluttered, clean and well maintained. Although there is no happy hour per se, regular prices are already significantly lower than the early evening discounted rates of most establishments in the neighbourhood. Seating is limited to a small number of stools around a single table, and when the joint gets crowded the clientele overflows into the street. It’s probably a good idea to arrive early if you want to claim a barstool.
Staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the drinks, and when the place isn’t so busy they are happy to chat and advise. A loyal base of regulars has already been established, including local residents who buy bottles to take away and then bring them back for recycling. Photos of some of them are displayed on a noticeboard.
The drinks: the core offering is an extensive selection of bottled craft beers with six on draught. A limited range of spirits is available, mostly dispensed in shots, and house wines are decent and, like everything on the list, modestly priced.
Three of the draught beers – all of which cost HK$45 per pint or HK$30 for a half – are from the Hong Kong Beer Company, including the seasonal Sevens Stout which the brewery produces from November to April, and which won the best stout award in the 2016 Hong Kong Beer Championship.
Of the draught imports, Pompelmocello from Britain’s Siren Craft Brew company is a sharp, sour IPA brewed with grapefruit juice and zest. It also packs a punch at 6 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV). Evolution, an American pale ale from Maryland, is more of a session beer at 4.9 per cent ABV, and is a well-balanced hoppy choice. The bottled beer selection is internationally sourced and with an artisanal emphasis, and includes local favourites from the Black Kite, Gweilo and Young Master breweries. House wines start at HK$38 for a generous glass, and ciders and soft drinks are also available. Given the extensive range of pilsners, stouts, IPAs et al, there should be something in the chiller cabinets to suit just about any taste.
The verdict: worthwhile, affordably priced addition to a generally overpriced area, and a convivial place to drop in for a good-quality beer.
99 Bottles, 59 Peel Street, Central, tel: 9812 4269
Open: Monday to Sunday 12.30pm-2am
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