If there’s anything better than a beautifully crafted cocktail on a gently warm, tropical Hong Kong evening, it’s when your elixir of choice is served with a view to stop you in your tracks.
Thankfully Hong Kong is indisputably one of the world’s greatest destinations when it comes to seeking out stellar views with booze. It could be the stunning mass of Victoria Peak, the hulking former volcano which frames an unrivalled cityscape of skyscrapers and sea. Or maybe it’s a look north towards the hills that give Kowloon its name (which means ‘nine dragons’), with teeming, neon-soaked crowds underneath them. Or perhaps it’s a quieter spot, ripe for contemplation, where waves lap, birds soar and you’re finally ready to really breathe.
Wherever you end up, the libations on offer run the gamut from humble local brews to the finest champagnes to creative alcohol-free cocktails for non-drinkers.
Here are some of the city’s finest spots to kick back, drink in hand, and soak it all in.
Popinjays at The Murray
When The Murray opened as a hotel in Central, following an extensive four-year renovation from its former 1960s incarnation as a government building, it bought with it whole new views from the heart of the city’s business and cultural district. Nowhere are they more impressive than from Popinjays, its rooftop bar. In addition to unexpected views towards the dazzling architecture of the HSBC Main Building and the surrounding skyscrapers, the 4,500-square-foot wraparound terrace also overlooks Hong Kong Park and the nearby Zoological and Botanical Gardens, with its white cockatoos that give the bar its name.
Memorable Mix: The Brooding Macaw with local bauhinia gin, lychee liqueur, sakura syrup, cranberry, pineapple and lemon juice.
26/F, The Murray, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central; +852 3141 8888
Up on the 31st floor of The Hennessy, Wooloomooloo Steakhouse has a rooftop bar that’s notably quiet up high above the crowds, and boasts 270-degree views of Victoria Harbour, Happy Valley and the busy heart of Wan Chai below. On the menu, cocktails include a cooling English Garden mojito featuring Hendricks gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber and mint; and a French Old Fashioned with Rémy Martin VSOP, Cointreau, Angostura orange bitters and more. For non-drinkers, the refreshing and possibly ironically named Aussie Punch melds passionfruit, mango, mint and soda.
Memorable Mix: Hendrick’s gin and tonic paired simply with cucumber shavings, lemon zest and a wedge of lime.
31/F & Rooftop, The Hennessy, 256 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai; +852 2893 6960
Ozone at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
As far as bragging rights go, it doesn’t get loftier than ‘the highest bar in the world’. Tokyo-based designer Masamichi Katayama was responsible for the interiors at Ozone on the 118th floor of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui, but of course it’s the extraordinary vistas from all sides of this rooftop bar that make it one of the most popular draws in town. Way down below, the Star Ferry crossing the harbour looks like a bathtub toy, while the sweep of views can reach Macao on a clear day. A DJ turns things up a notch, with room for up to 400 people to party long into the night.
Memorable Mix: The aptly named HK Skyline, an unexpected combination of Zacapa rum, absinthe, Imperial Oolong syrup, pink grapefruit, lime and Dom Pérignon foam – along with chocolate stones and lavender smoke.
118/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon; +852 2263 2270
Sugar at East Hotel
The east of Hong Kong Island has undergone a renaissance in recent years and the Quarry Bay district is one of the most sought-after business and dining hubs. Towering above it from the top of hotel East Hong Kong sits Sugar. Inside sits an onyx and timber cocktail bar, comfortable sofas for kicking back and a DJ booth, but the outdoor rooftop bar is where it’s at for Instagram-worthy skyline shots of the east Kowloon cityscape and Victoria Harbour. Nab one of the coveted tables 100 metres up and kick back with a creative cocktail or something from the impressive range of wines and beers.
Memorable Mix: The Low-GI cocktail Siu Tim means ‘less sweet’ in Cantonese and is filled with fresh fruits and herbs, making for a less guilty choice.
32/F, East, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing; +852 3968 3738
One of Hong Kong’s must-sees for many visitors, Aqua in Tsim Sha Tsui offers panoramic views of Hong Kong Island’s neon-clad skyline and the harbour below. If you’re looking for that definitive Blade Runner feel, with lights reflecting on the water and choppers buzzing past, then Aqua Spirit is where you need to be, especially when the nightly laser light show illuminates it. The interiors are dark, sexy and sleek, the perfect spot for a sophisticated crowd enjoying the mezzanine lounge bar with drinks like the beautiful Japanese Garden, featuring Tanqueray gin infused with Earl Grey tea, yuzu and peach.
Memorable Mix: Green Tea colada with Plantation 3 Stars rum, cacao, pineapple, coconut and matcha.
29 & 30/F, One Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 3427 2288
Above by Komune
The district of Wong Chuk Hang, on the south side of Hong Kong Island, offers a whole new perspective for those sipping at rooftop bar Above by Komune. That’s thanks to its home in the Ovolo Southside hotel, which overlooks a mixture of urban jungle and actual jungle, with the southern slope of The Peak extending down to the sparkling South China Sea. Plop yourself on your pick of the spacious sofas, order from the extensive list of cocktails, wines, bubbles or draught and bottled beers like local favourite Young Master, and drink in the views.
Memorable Mix: Crazy Bell Pepper lives up to its name, featuring tequila infused with Sichuan pepper, fig honey, yellow chartreuse and lemon juice for a spicy punch.
4/F, Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen; +852 3460 8157
This new outdoor rooftop space sits atop arguably the city’s hottest dining and design destination, H Queen’s, in the heart of Central. The decor, food and drinks come with a French accent, thanks to owners Le Comptoir group, which counts Michelin-starred restaurants like Écriture in its portfolio. Piqniq’s relaxed mood is set by colourful furniture, beanbags and a supersized red-and-white-spotted pumpkin – by Japanese polka dot queen Yayoi Kusama, naturally. From the bar, a dangerously attractive Aperol spritz on tap joins other cocktails, wines and bubbles. The views take in unusual angles of Central, countless skyscrapers, the might of The Peak and out to the harbour.
Memorable Mix: Dark Storm melds dark rum, ginger beer, lime and bitters for a taste of the tropics with a Caribbean twist.
Rooftop, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central; +852 5200 1683
Red Sugar at the Kerry Hotel
Another captivating aspect of Victoria Harbour is afforded at Red Sugar at the Kerry Hotel, where the rooftop bar’s vast terrace by Hong Kong designer André Fu offers 270-degree views. Amid plants and landscaping, sculptures and water features, it’s the perfect setting for large groups of friends and families intent on a soiree with a difference. Mocktails on offer include a mix of ginger and passionfruit or an unusual watermelon and coriander spritz, while among the harder stuff, barrel mixes in the indoor bar sit with a wide range of international gins.
Memorable Mix: Enthusiasm – a blend of Havana Rum, Aperol infused with berries, spices and creole bitters; the name references many Hongkongers’ passion for horse races at the historic Happy Valley racecourse.
7/F, Kerry Hotel, 38 Hung Luen Road, Hung Hom; +852 2252 5281