Bar review: Upstairs at Belon, SoHo – superb drinks, impeccable service and a tranquil spot to chill out and chat
An intimate space above a restaurant, with comfortable seats, expert bartending and wine nights where you can taste rare vintages by the glass, Upstairs by Belon exudes class
The vibe: Upstairs at Belon is a snug, intimate space hidden away up a dark staircase at the back of smart French restaurant, Belon. The speakeasy feel is accentuated by the fact one gains admittance through a closed door with an imposing knocker.
Belon’s nautical theme is echoed in a simple colour scheme of navy blue and white, with comfortable grey seats and low tables, a well-stocked bar in one corner and a scattering of eclectic objects ranging from a crab perched halfway up one wall to a vintage wind-up gramophone. It’s a tranquil spot to chill out and chat, with attentive service and expert bartending from resident mixologist Axel.
The drinks: The signature cocktails are intelligent takes on the classics. Kohyo at Dusk (HK$128, gin, Crème de Kohyo, Cointreau, lime), served straight up, was nicely balanced with the delicate flavour from the Kohyo grapes and a touch of orange from the Cointreau coming through. La Pomme (HK$138, Pisco, Calvados, granny smith) was an apple-based take on the Pisco Sour. Pleasingly fresh and dry, it was stylishly served in a brandy balloon glass with one large ice cube.
Asked by my companion for something light, Axel created a deliciously refreshing long drink (HK$138, French grape-based gin, G’Vine Floraison, lychee liqueur, passion fruit, lime and ginger ale). Turning to the off-menu classics, he rustled up a perfect Vesper (HK$138), stirred and not shaken. Artfully prepared peanuts make a tasty nibble to provide some blotting paper.
In addition to cocktails, Upstairs at Belon holds Rare Wine Nights every Wednesday, which offer at “near market” prices wines by the glass normally sold only by the bottle (and only bought by those who can afford them – think four to five figures per bottle). While not for the impecunious, it’s a great opportunity for wine lovers to try wines most us can only dream of tasting without actually breaking the bank.
The verdict: A class act – if you prefer tranquillity, impeccable service and superb drinks to the noise and buzz of SoHo at street level, head Upstairs.
Upstairs at Belon, 1/F, 41 Elgin Street, SoHo. Tel: 2152 2872. Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 6pm till late.
Other nearby bars we’ve reviewed recently