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Hong Kong bar reviews

Dear Lilly in Central review: floral cocktails are well-made and attractive, but concept is odd

Ashley Sutton opens another fantasy-themed bar in the IFC. The Parisian flower shop-styled interior is attractive if incongruous in its high-rise location, but there is nothing wrong with the signature cocktails

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 11:02pm

The vibe: Dear Lilly is the latest of Ashley Sutton’s fantasy extravaganza bars, following the likes of Ophelia and Iron Fairies. Located in the space formerly occupied by Isola Bar on the IFC roof terrace, this time the concept revolves around a flower shop in “Romantic Paris”.

It’s all very pretty and girlie, with curlicue-laden decor, a 19th century style handwriting motif and masses of dried flowers arranged in perfume bottles and hanging from the ceiling (while fresh flowers would have been nicer, dried ones are more practical and this is a lot more attractive than the grisly display of dead butterflies in Iron Fairies). The concept seems an odd choice for this location – it doesn’t really fit with the venue’s ultra-modern massive windows and harbour view and seems likely to appeal more to ladies who lunch than financial types working in the IFC.

However, food is served as well as drinks and the place is open all day to cater to the lunch and teatime crowd, the outdoor space is an attraction and when we left there was a long queue waiting to get in (booking is recommended if you want to sit indoors). Service was efficient if lacking in warmth.

The drinks: in keeping with the concept, signature cocktails focus on perfume and flower themes. Mademoiselle Lilly (HK$118, vodka, Lillet Blanc, lychee liqueur, cranberry, raspberry, hibiscus syrup), was fresh, light and fruity.

Another fruity number was Mad Enchantment (HK$128, Pere Magloire Calvados, Lillet Rouge, apple juice, blackberry purée) which is served in a delicate porcelain cup perched on a cut glass stem, a presentation bound to have customers posting on Instagram.

The most unusual drink we tried was the elegant, floral New Look (HK$138, vodka, lime, almond syrup, grenadine, Angostura bitters, topped up with champagne), which is designed to echo the scent of lily of the valley.

Falling somewhere between a negroni and an old fashioned, Orient Express (HK$138, Glenmorangie, Dubonnet, Aperol, mandarin bitters) was rich and smooth, with the single malt adding depth and length to the flavour.

All the drinks were well made and well balanced. The drinks list encourages customers to ask for classics if they prefer and there’s a good selection of wines at very reasonable prices for a venue in this location.

The verdict: while the ambience won’t appeal to everyone, the prime location and good quality drinks should ensure Dear Lilly’s success with a range of punters.

Shop 4010, Podium Level 4, IFC Mall, 8 Finance St, Central, tel: 2771 6060

Open: 11.30am-midnight (Thurs to Sat until 1am)

While you’re in the area:

Bar review: Coa in Central – great selection of tequila and mescal in a Mexican-style cantina

Bar review: Bar De Luxe in Central – elegant Japanese cocktails from Hidetsugu Ueno, and sweeping views

Bar review: Ying Jee Club Bar in Central – a true luxury experience