PDT in Central review: one of world’s best bar’s first overseas outlet is relaxed with great drinks
Founded by the man who pioneered fat washing, PDT (Please Don’t Tell) regularly features on world’s best bar lists. The speakeasy-style bar is accessed through a phone booth, and serves up excellent cocktails and gourmet hot dogs
The vibe: PDT (Please Don’t Tell), a pioneer of New York’s “secret” speakeasy-style bars and frequently ranked as one of the world’s best bars, has opened its first permanent overseas branch in the Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong. Like the original, it’s accessed through a phone booth (up a flight of stairs inside the MO Bar) and there’s a weird Man From Uncle feel about it, especially when you find yourself stuck inside a curtained cubicle waiting for the door to open. Once inside the bar, the atmosphere is intimate, relaxed and agreeably unpretentious – the only unusual note is the various stuffed animals and birds which decorate the walls. The place is small and booking is recommended, especially if you want one of the cosy booth tables; while there are bar stools for walk-ins, they aren’t the most comfortable seating. The feel of a classic American bar was personified by our host Malaika, a member of the New York team who did an outstanding job of making guests feel at home and introducing the drinks. The casual feel is enhanced by a menu of gourmet hot dogs (the original PDT is located next to a celebrated hot dog restaurant) which are good value at HK$98.
The drinks: The cocktails are made with premium spirits and cost HK$158, which compares favourably to other Landmark bars.
PDT founder and noted mixologist Jim Meehan pioneered the fat-washing technique for spirits and Benton’s Old-Fashioned (bacon-infused rye whisky, maple syrup, Angostura bitters) is a fine example, with the sweetness and richness of the traditional Old Fashioned tempered by the salty, fatty bacon. Pear of Pères (rye whiskey, St George pear brandy, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Génépi des Pères Chartreux) offers a creative twist on a Manhattan, strong and complex, with the intense pear brandy dominant. Stop Light (Tanqueray, Dolin white vermouth, Campari, Strega) is an elegant version of the classic Negroni – extremely smooth with a gorgeous glowing colour.
Least successful of the drinks we tried was Tuxedo No. 2 (Tanqueray 10, absinthe, maraschino). A historic cocktail dating back to 1900, this take on a dry martini worked well at first but the absinthe and maraschino became cloying and made the drink taste flat towards the end. A classic gin martini and a vesper were both beautifully made, however.
The verdict: PDT lives up to its reputation – down to earth, with great drinks and a warm welcome.
PDT, Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central (entrance is through the MO Bar), tel: 2132 0110
Open: Mon to Thur 5pm-12.30am, Friday and Saturday 5pm-1am
While you’re in the area: