Bar review: Nocturne in Central
35 Peel Street, Central
Tel: 2884 9566
The vibe: Nocturne is based on the tiny "secret" bars that are so popular in Japan. While these places are wonderful in Tokyo, when transported to our shores they often suffer from stuffiness or even obnoxious self-importance. Not so at Nocturne. SoHo's largely unknown Japanese whisky bar manages that difficult balance of being a serious, quality-obsessed drinking hole while still being friendly. At 11.30pm they even started playing Biz Markie. Nice.
The drinks: Nocturne does two things extremely well: whisky and wine. Our party was made up of devoted whisky drinkers so we gave the wine a miss. The expert server explained the menu reads regionally from Japan's north to its south - the northern whiskies are more peaty than their southern counterparts. We tried one at each end of the spectrum: a strongly smoky Yoichi 12-year (HK$138) and a floral, almost creamy Hakushu 18-year (HK$178). Both were excellent, but the Hakushu was the crowd favourite. A bourbon Old Fashioned (HK$125) was fine, although a bit on the sweet side.
The verdict: we will definitely return. Although it's not a great place to socialise, and certainly not the kind of bar for a rowdy night out, Nocturne would be an excellent after-dinner stop off to impress a date.
Or, better yet, go by yourself and enjoy a great glass of whisky in the company of your own thoughts.