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Dry and Tested: 3 Hong Kong Cocktail Bars Shine With Zero ABV Drinks

Hong Kong's top bars refresh their non-alcoholic offerings beyond shaken-or-stirred tipples.

By Wilson Fok
July 16, 2021

Move over, asian flush, alcohol sensitivity is no longer the only concern for the need for Zero ABV drinks at bars. Cocktail bars are doing more to serve non-alcoholic options to guests with options beyond virgin cocktails or blended juice for mocktails. Instead, Hong Kong’s best and most revered mixologists are adding their creativity and flair to design new zero ABV drinks in the same approach as their own boozy concoctions.

DARKSIDE

Perfect Landing | Photo: Wilson Fok

The Red Spot | Photo: Wilson Fok

Rosewood’s DarkSide just renewed its cocktail menu, titled the “Moon Menu”, this week. Arkadiusz Rybak, the luxury hotel’s director of bars, celebrates the abundance of local produce in his new collection of designer tipples, which includes three brand-new zero ABV drinks, by incorporating locally-farmed vegetables and fruits into his new creations. Among the refreshing additions are Green Space, a tangy concoction where Seedlip Spice alcohol-free spirit is blended with pickled fennel and cucumber tonic. The light prick of tartness is enhanced by the vegetal cucumber tonic, making it a fresh aperitif and perfect introduction to cocktails to come.

Perfect Landing is citrus-focused, where Seedlip Citrus is spiked with ginger and salt-cured calamansi, a tiny green-skinned lime variety often used in Southeast Asian cuisines. The calamansi limes are locally sourced from the New Territories and preserved in salt before they are incorporated into the beverage. The Red Spot is by far the fruitiest of the three booze-free creations. Lappo strawberry kombucha lends tartness while the coconut water and honey’s sweetness balance the drink out, only to be hit with the numbing sensation coming from the Sichuan peppercorns. The three new booze-free concoctions are available at DarkSide starting this mid-July.

DarkSide, Rosewood Hong Kong Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
rosewoodhotels.com

TELL CAMELLIA

Osmathus Oolong | Photo: Tell Camellia

Tell Camellia is on point with its mocktails, setting the bar high by adopting its signature teas into designer drinks, crafted by co-owners Gagan Gurung and Sandeep Hathiramani. “Sometimes our guests come to Tell Camellia not for the booze, but for the social experience, to be able to hang out with friends, especially at the post-COVID time like now,” explained Gurung. The celebrated venue, a cross of a tea bar and a fully-stocked mixology haven, takes teas seriously, pairing the right tea with tonic to create a series of booze-free tea-tails (cocktails with teas). Instead of infusing tea leaves into gin and topping up with tonic water, Gurung infuses tea blends in water overnight to create a cold-brew infusion, followed by a low-temperature re-distillation that removes caffeine, tannins and bitterness from the tea. The re-distilled tea becomes a clear liquid and is served with chilled tonic water. The bar’s most popular booze-free tea-tails include Osmanthus Oolong, a floral tea and tonic drink with a refreshing aftertaste; as well as Lychee and Summer Fruits, where a black tea base is infused with dried lychees and tropical fruits before re-distillation. The creation is naturally sweet with a light, toasty tea flavour that lingers on. Both booze-free tea-tails are available at Tell Camellia with occasional varieties on rotation throughout the summer.

Tell Camellia, LG/Floor , H Code, 45 Pottinger street, Central, Hong Kong (Entrance alley also on 48 Cochrane Street)
tellcamellia.com

COA

Granny Smith Apple Soda | Photo: Coa

Horchata | Photo: Coa

The number one bar of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 is home to an abundant selection of agave spirits, from artisanal tequila and craft mezcal. Unseemly as it may be, booze-free drinks are also part of the COA experience, sometimes for palate cleansing. The Granny Smith Apple Soda is a simple drink. Green apples are juiced, clarified and poured into the centrifuge for a speedy clarification process to reduce oxidation of the apple juice. The processed juice is carbonated with a siphon at the time of order, ensuring a crisp and clean carbonated drink. Alternatively, Coa’s Horchata is more on the traditional side. “We soaked the rice with quills of cinnamon overnight, followed by light sweetening and processing in the mixer to create a milky concoction, almost creamy drink to be served ice-cold and over ice,” explained Coa co-founder and mixologist Jay Khan. The sweet dairy-free beverage is lightly embellished with earthy cinnamon with a pure, smooth elixir made with pure rice, consumed out of a terracotta mug. Both the Granny Smith apple soda and Horchata are available at Coa.

With so many booze-free cocktails available, guests can opt for these unique alternatives without compromising diet plans and preferences and still enjoy the social experience with friends at these venues, not only throughout the warmer months, but also all year round.

Coa, LG/F Wah Shin House, 6-10 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong
coa.com.hk

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