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Hong Kong bar reviews

Dragonfly at Tai Kwun arts centre – stunning decor and quality drinks make for a classy night out

Ashley Sutton’s tribute to the Art Nouveau era is carried through in meticulous detail, with classic cocktails to match

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 12:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 6:55pm

The vibe: For this new bar in the restored Tai Kwun complex, bar design guru Ashley Sutton has come up with the idea of paying tribute to the location’s heyday – the Art Nouveau era.

The main bar is a sea of rich shades of turquoise with a gorgeous array of Tiffany stained glass lamps, tables and candle holders, while the back wall is dominated by a sculpture of a Mucha-style lady riding on a huge metal dragonfly (a classic Art Nouveau motif). The concept is carried through in meticulous detail, right down to the worked copper coasters and elaborate glass water goblets.

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Sutton has a loyal following and although newly opened, the place was packed on a rainy weekday evening. The intimate space gets noisy when it fills up with customers and the music is cranked up, and seating is not the most comfortable – the wrought iron bar stools look attractive but have seats too small for those with longer legs.

However, there’s plenty of additional space and seating options in the covered courtyard outside. Service is efficient and well-informed and a tasty nibble of salty, spicy popcorn comes with the drinks.

The drinks: Signature cocktails mix Art Nouveau and Hong Kong themes in name, if not necessarily content. Tiffany (HK$118, Jamaica rum, coconut, pineapple), is a light, sweet version of the piña colada, garnished with a macaroon. Gilded Age Sazerac (HK$128, Michter’s Bourbon, Montenegro Amaro, Lillet Blanc, Fernet Branca, absinthe) is a well-made version of this often neglected classic and comes with an irresistible quotation from Bette Davis attached to the glass by a miniature clothes peg.

The most original creation we tried was Dragon’s Pearls (HK$138, jasmine milk tea, mandarin, cognac, gin, tapioca), an alcoholic homage to that local icon, bubble tea. Smooth and creamy, with well-judged liquor and intense notes of jasmine, it’s served in a plastic beaker with an environmentally friendly glass straw large enough so you can suck up the tapioca.

Champagne is intrinsically identified with the Belle Époque era (whether drunk from a glass or a chorus girl’s shoe) and Dragonfly offers a suitably wide selection, ranging from Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label at HK$148 per glass to ultra-premium vintage Salon at HK$6,500 per bottle. There’s an extensive list of premium liquor and a decent choice of wines, although beer lovers may be disappointed with just three options, all priced at HK$80.

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The verdict: An astute addition to Tai Kwun’s dining options, Dragonfly’s stunning decor, outdoor space and quality drinks should ensure it enjoys a lifespan much longer than that of its insect namesake.

Dragonfly, Shop 10-G1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 2777 2633. Open: 5pm-2am