Negroni Week 2022: Where to find the best Negroni in Hong Kong

Red, bold and punchy. Negroni is an iconic Italian classic cocktail, typically mixed with gin, vermouth and Campari. Though it is an acquired taste for many because of its bitterness, it is an aperitif that is loved by many. So much so that every year, our favourite bars in Hong Kong celebrate the classic tipple and participate in Negroni Week, a global charity initiative to raise funds for any charity of their choice. This year, 40 of Hong Kong’s top bars and restaurants will come together for the 10th iteration of Negroni Week to mix classic and creative variations of Negronis in support of Slow Food. Inspiring a movement towards food and beverage that is good – for them, the people that produce it and the world. The Slow Food Negroni Week Fund will then support projects across the world promoting the preservation of cultural and biological diversity of food and beverage worldwide. 


From 12 to 18 September, Hong Kong’s favourite watering holes will be stirring up new and creative recipes for both Negroni-lovers and those new to the classic cocktail. Opening on 12 September with The Negroni Week Opening Party “Closer Than Ever” at the Honly Tonks Tavern. It will be a handcuffed guestshift featuring duo-representatives from participating partners including Argo, DarkSide and The Dispensary. On top of Honky’s team Special Negroni Week menu, each bar duo will create and serve one original Negroni recipe. The prize is a donation to the winner’s local charity of their choice. On the closing night on 18 September, The Daily Tot will be hosting an exciting Negroni Speed Challenge featuring guest bartenders from six participating bars, while post-Negroni Week, Tell Camellia will continue its charitable spirit in support of Women for Women from 21 September onwards (read below for more information). 

So, if you’re on the hunt for the best and most creative negroni this month, join Gafencu and in this global movement of drinking for a cause and see our top picks of negronis and where to try them.


Photo: Coa Bartenders, courtesy of Campari

Mexican-inspired craft cocktail bar Coa, no. 1 on Asia’s 50 Best Bar list for the second year running, is highlighting its Cacao Husk Rosita (HK$120) for this year’s Negroni Week. Featuring a mix of Cacao husk, Campari, Vermouth blend and Tequila Reposado for a complex blend that will surely satisfy classic Negroni lovers.


Also Read: What’s On? Things to do this September in Hong Kong



Photo: Single Origin Negroni, courtesy of Argo

Argo is serving three styles of Negroni for this year’s Negroni Week. Aside from its original Single Origin Negroni, it will also be featuring recipes from their sister bars Virtù and BKK Social. Its Single Origin Negroni is a mix of Cascara Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, habanero, and Hulu Gali cacao aged in cocoa pods from Malaysia, serving up a subtly chocolate tipple.


Photo: Negroni N5, courtesy of Aqua Restaurant Group

What’s better than sipping on a classic cocktail? Sipping on a classic cocktail with an idyllic view of Victoria Harbour. The city’s beloved Aqua bar and restaurant sits in its new abode on the 17th floor of the H Zentre in Tsim Sha Tsui. It will be serving a Japanese-inspired Negroni, Negroni N5 (HK$120) throughout Negroni Week. Crafted with bittersweet Campari, paired with genmaicha infused tequila, Aperol, red vermouth and mind-blowing umami bitters topped with a green tea surprise. 


Photo: Ume Negroni, courtesy of Darkside, Rosewood Hong Kong

Over at Rosewood Hong Kong, the city’s timeless monument to rare aged spirits  DarkSide calls for cacao lovers with its newly crafted UmeNegroni (HK$170). Mixed with chocolate Campari, plantation dark rum (instead of gin), plum sake, Mancino rosso vermouth, plum bitters and myrrh drops, this is an unusually sweet but delicious iteration of the classic punchy cocktail.


Also Read: Vodka-Charged! Summer cocktail recipes you have to try…


Terrible Baby

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Photo: Four’s Style Negroni, courtesy of Terrible Baby, Eaton HK

Although Jordan isn’t always a location that springs to mind when on the hunt for the best cocktails, Eaton HK’s Terrible Baby makes the journey worth it. Not to be missed this Negroni Week, the bar will be stirring up a selection of four Negroni riffs, each (HK$100) to satisfy different tastes .

Negroni Clasico, a classic recipe of dry gin, Campari and sweeth vermouth; Terrible Negroni, featuring a splash of Aperol; Tropic-Thunder, a Garibaldi-style for a sweeter alternative that boasts a fruity mix of honey, orange and passion fruit, served in a flute; and our personal favourite, the Four’s Style Negroni, an innovative house cration of Terrible Rum Blend with bitters, spices and shiso leaf all aged in clay pot for three months for a balanced and smooth finish. 

The Daily Tot

Photo: Popcorn Pandan Negroni, courtesy of The Daily Tot, Singular Concepts

Our favourite Carribbean rum-focused bar on Hollywood Road, The Daily Tot substitutes gin for – you guessed it – rum. Highlighting the Popcorn Pandan Negroni ($120), a pandan-infused dark rum, with popcorn-infused vermouth and Campari, the tipple is a blend of sweet, bitter and nutty. In addition, its signature Banana Negroni (HK$130) – a sweet, rum-based negroni that uses Flor de Caña 7yrs, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Caramelised Banana and Clarified Banana, will also be on offer alongside recipes from its sister bars: Barcode, Tell Camellia and the recently opened house of Vermouth bar and restaurant Bianco & Rosso, mix of B&R Negroni Beefeater Gin, Campri, PunteMes, cedarwood essential oil and lemon zest. 

Keep watch! For the closing of Negroni Week on 18 September, The Daily Tot will host six guest bartenders from participating bars, including Terrible Baby, Bella Lee and Tell Camelia in a friendly Negroni Speed Challenge. Come and cheer your favourite bartender as they mix, shake and serve up Negronis as fast as they can.

Tell Camellia

Photo: Darjeeling Negroni, courtesy of Tell Camellia, Singular Concepts

Famed for their tea-cocktails, Tell Camellia will be offering two technical renditions of a tea-negroni. Spiced Teagroni ($120) is a rum-based twist made with spiced tea while the Sencha & Shiso Negroni ($130) is made with redistilled sencha tea gin, shiso-infused vermouth, and Campari for a zesty, bittersweet riff of the classic Negroni.

But it doesn’t stop there! On 21 from 7pm onwards, Tell Camellia will be hosting Singular Concepts Guest Shift. Presenting a stage for four bartenders from each of Singular Concepts’ venues: Barcode, Daily Tot, Bianco & Rosso and Tell Camellia, each of the bar’s representative will throw their shakers together in support of Women For Women, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides practical and moral support to female survivors of war. For each cocktail sold, HK$10 will go to the foundation to help women who are victims of war. 


Also Read: Rum-surgence: From sailors’ grog to premium spirit

Delicious takeaway cocktails to enjoy at home

Though the city’s favourite bars remain closed, there’s no reason to not treat yourself to a much-needed cocktail night in the comforts of your own home. With some of the city’s best-loved nightlife hotspots serving up delicious takeaway cocktails just a call away, you’re all but guaranteed to enjoy these unique bar-to-home experiences whether you’re throwing a house party or just looking for an easy nightcap after a stressful day.

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The Diplomat
This Central-set speakeasy US tavern is well known for martinis and creative cocktails such as the Tarling, a signature cocktail combining pandan-infused gin, white port, baking spice, clarified orange juice and coconut juice, and Boulevardier, a heady blend of Wild Turky rye bourbon, Punt E Mes and Campari bitters. Each 400ml to-go bottle serves up to four, with prices starting at HK$500.
Price: HK$500+
Available for pick up at The Diplomat, Central, Hong Kong

gafencu magzine Takeaway bottled cocktails order delivery the old man

The Old Man
Claiming the coveted No.15 spot on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, The Old Man is bringing some of its award-winning cocktails right to your door step. From a seaweed-flavoured vodka and spiced cherry tomato to a guava Negroni or a limited-edition Hemingway series of collectible bottled cocktails, home-bound connoisseurs of mixology will be spoilt for choice at the number of premium offerings, which are available in either 500ml and 700ml sizes.
Price: HK$500+
Delivers to: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Lantau and Outlying Islands (free delivery with minimum order of HK$800 for Hong Kong Island / HK$1,000 for New Territories and Lantau)

gafencu magzine Takeaway bottled cocktails order delivery rosewood darkside

Adding a touch of opulence to takeaway cocktails, Darkside, the jazz bar nestled within Rosewood Hong Kong, recently unveiled customised bottled alcoholic beverages masterminded by the luxury hotel’s beverage consultant, Giancarlo Mancino. Delving into its extensive library of aged spirits, on offer are such libations as the Godeau Cognac Old Fashioned and the 50/50 Martini with Xellent Swiss Gin.
Price: HK$458+
Available for pick-up at Butterfly Patisserie, Rosewood Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui

gafencu magzine Takeaway bottled cocktails order delivery the wise kings

The Wise King

Award-winning modern classic cocktail bar The Wise King also has on offer an array of takeaway cocktails to entice your taste buds. Its expansive arsenal consists of contemporary takes on classic drinks, including the King’s Negroni, Jamon Old Fashioned, Brined Rickey, and the Pickled Margarita. Available in two sizes – 500ml for HK$500, or 750ml for HK$598 – each bottle comes with a tag hand-signed by the bar’s founder in appreciation for customers’ support.
Price: HK$600+
Delivers to: Hong Kong Island and Kowloon

gafencu magzine Takeaway bottled cocktails order delivery Coa

Named after the machete-like tool used to harvest agave – the key ingredient in tequila and mezcal – COA is an award-winning cocktail bar that puts the focus firmly on the aforementioned spirits. The agave specialists in this Central-set bar have partnered with local craft brewer Young Master Ales to create a special bottled collection of the bar’s signature cocktails, featuring the same rich flavours that discerning drinkers have come to love. Their virtual shop also stocks a selection of craft brews and spirits all fronted with artistic labels. 
Price: HK$400+
Delivers to: Across Hong Kong except outlying islands (free delivery with minimum spend of HK$700 )

Harvesting herbs with Garage Greens by Rooftop Republic and Garage Academy

The latest wellness trend that seems to be catching on in Hong Kong is urban farming. In keeping with this trend, Rooftop Republic and Garage Academy have started a collaborative rooftop farming programme called Garage Greens.

Garage Greens

Through this three-month seasonal programme that runs from August to October, Garage Greens members will be able to grow their own herbs and vegetables on Garage Academy Campus in Wan Chai, get guidance from organic farmers and even participate in cooking workshops.

Garage Greens

To kick-off the programme, Rooftop Republic and Garage Academy organised a cocktail soiree called Rooftop Farm to Table, featuring signature cocktails by mixologist Jay Khan from COA, a trendy new bar in Central. Jay prepared three different kinds of tipples for the evening, using drinks, using the very versatile thyme, mint and basil freshly reaped on the Garage Academy Campus rooftop. Guests were also treated to a live demo in which they were taught how to make the best use of the herbs to create the most delectable of drinks. One tip? Hand-press the leaves lightly to bring out the most flavours.

Olé Mexico: Exploring the hottest Mexican bars in Hong Kong

In Gafencu’s April issue, we shone the spotlight on mezcals, that traditional Mexican tipple that’s captured the hearts of Hong Kong’s beverage cognoscenti (read the article here). Now we bring you a round-up of our favourite Mexican bars in the city so you can sample these long-favoured agave spirits.

Drinks at the best Mexican Bars in HK


Behind a rather unassuming entrance on the steps of Central’s Shin Hing Street lies the first of our favourite Mexican bars – Coa. Helmed by agave aficionado Jay Khan (previously of Foxglove and Dr Fern’s fame), this cosy joint favours artisanal cocktails inspired by the flavours of Mexico.

Recommendation: Horchata de Pistachio – a delicious cocktail balancing Ocho Blanco tequila, homemade horchata (a milky, nutty concoction) and pistachio orgeat.

Enjoy a Horchata de Pistachio at COA

11 Westside

Another relative newcomer to HK’s nightlife scene, 11 Westside (which we reviewed here) brings that quintessential Cali-Mex (that’s Californian-Mexican) cuisine to the fore. Led by Oaxaca-born Chef Esdras Ochoa a.k.a. the ‘Taco King’, the well-stocked bar offers a variety of tequila and mezcal beverages.

Recommendation: Me Against the World – an unabashedly complex tipple featuring Mezcal Amores, vermouth and a blend of citrus fruits.

Inside 11 Westside



Tucked just beyond Lan Kwai Fong on On Lan Street, Mezcalito is, as its name suggests, dedicated to all things mezcal. The well-crafted cocktails here are accompanied by lovely views of the Central skyline thanks to its perch on the 27th floor, and a perfect way to unwind post-work.

Recommendation: Coralina – a Mexican take on the classic sangria that replaces brandy with tequila reposado.

Mezcalito is dedicated to Mexican spirits


Perhaps the oldest entry among our favourite Mexican bars, Brickhouse maintains its standing with Hong Kong’s notoriously fickle bar hoppers. With thumping beats, delicious tacos and a heavy-duty mezcal menu, this late-night LKF hotspot hits all the right notes.

Recommendation: Cubano – a delightfully smoky, citrusy reposado/mezcal/brandy blend that’s not for the faint-of-heart.

Brickhouse is one of HK's top Mexican bars

Mexican Stand-outs: Demystifying mezcal, the true spirit of Latin America

Those with a taste for tippling will already know that mezcals are the latest libations to tickle Hong Kong’s notoriously fickle fancy. Although introduced only relatively recently, these smoky Mexican spirits have already achieved stratospheric popularity among the city’s beverage cognoscenti.

Mezcals recommendations 2

Which all rather begs the question – what exactly is a ‘mezcal’? Put simply, it’s an innately Mexican style of spirit, one distilled in nine of the country’s 31 states and all derived from the agave, a fleshy plant species native to tropical America.

Mezcals are made by fermenting different species of agave

Mexico is home to over 30 different agave sub-species, with nearly all of them co-opted for alcoholic purposes by one distiller or another. In every instance, a similar distillation process is involved – first the piña (agave stem) is roasted and smoked in an underground pit (which gives mezcal its characteristically smoky taste). Then the residue is crushed and left to ferment in water. Perhaps the best-known of all the mezcals is tequila. This particular variant is made solely from blue agave, an ingredient that gives it its legendary kick.

Mezcals are made from agave pinas

Armed with this basic grounding in all things mezcal then, which Hong Kong hostelry best meets the needs of the novice imbiber of Mexican hard liquor? The most obvious first stop would be Central’s COA. Taking its inspiration from Oaxaca – Mexico’s leading mezcal-producing state – this cosy new bar is the brainchild of Jay Khan, the award-winning beverage boffin best known for his work at Foxglove and Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour.

Coa in Soho is a great spot to try mezcals

Overall, COA is clearly Khan’s paean of praise to Mexican-style intoxication. It boasts mezcals distilled from 20 different agave varietals, including tequila and raicilla, and also offers other traditional tipples such as tepache, a fermented fruit-based alcohol.

While the drinkery wears its Mexican affiliations with true panache, Khan maintains the establishment remains, above all, a cocktail bar, saying: “While we do want to introduce the wonderful traditions of tequila and mezcal to our guests, we also pride ourselves on our wider artisanal cocktail range.”

Coa founder Jay Khan is a fan of mezcals

For those solely set on a little hombre homage, however, the Horchata de Pistachio – a delicious cocktail that balances Ocho Blanco tequila with homemade horchata (a milky, nutty concoction) and pistachio orgeat, garnished with a pistachio biscuit and purple sweet potato dust – is probably the ideal place to start.

Another true Mexican stand-out is the Mezcal Paloma, a blend of mezcal, tequila, grapefruit soda and lime. According to Khan, this is the drink favoured by visiting bartenders whenever they pop into COA. A better recommendation you are not likely to get.

Paloma is a delicious cocktail derived of mezcals

Aware that many can prove a trifle wary of Mexican alcohol, Khan sees himself as on a mission to convert such unbelievers, saying: “When someone lands up at COA and doesn’t order a tequila or a mezcal cocktail, I have to ask them why. Inevitably, it’s because they’ve heard bad things. After they’ve tried a Horchata de Pistachio or two, however, all such inhibitions seem to vanish.”

While the pioneering work undertaken by COA (and several other like-minded hotspots, including Mezcalito, Brickhouse and 11 Westside) certainly seems to have won the city over, it’s no secret that Hong Kong has a notoriously short attention span.

Mezcals recommendations 1

Time and time again, today’s favoured flavours have become undrinkably gauche within a month or two. Will mezcal be the one to woo the city’s drinkers into a long-term libation assignation? We certainly hope so.

COA. Shop A, LG/F, Wah Shin House,6-10 Shin Hing Street, Central.
(852) 2813 5787.

Text: Tenzing Thondup

Agave-based Spirits: Demystifying tequila, mezcal and raicilla

How to drink Agave-based Spirits
Agave-based spirits like tequila, mezcal and raicilla are taking Hong Kong by storm

Judging from the slew of upmarket Mexican restaurants that cropped up in our fair city over the past few years (11 Westside, Brickhouse and Caliente to name a few), tacos and burritos have become something of a staple for Hong Kong epicureans. But what of Mexico’s alcohols? We’re here to shed some light on some of its most famous agave-based spirits: tequila, mezcal and raicilla.

Despite its widespread fame, tequila is something of an exclusive club. By law, it can only be produced within five of Mexico’s 31 states, with Jalisco being the major manufacturer. Furthermore, only blue agave grown in these designated regions can be used to produce tequila. It’s almost identical to the rule governing the classification of champagnes.

Tequila is made solely from blue agave plants
Tequila is made solely from blue agave plants

So how to distinguish between good and bad tequila? “When you’re drinking tequila, look for a sweet potato aroma. That’s how you know it has truly preserved the blue agave flavour,” shares bar guru Jay Khan, who helms Coa, the new Oaxaca-inspired bar dedicated to agave-based spirits. Another top tip? Avoid tequilas with overwhelming caramel or vanilla aromas. These reflect artificial additions introduced during the distillation process.

It may come as a surprise that tequila is actually part of the larger mezcal family. What is mezcal, you ask? It’s the overarching term used to define all agave-based spirits distilled in nine Mexican states. Oaxaca is the leading producer. Where tequila only draws on one agave species, mezcals utilise over 50 varieties. This explains the much more diverse flavour profiles found across different mezcal brands.  

Agave stems are the basis for all mezcal spirits
Agave stems are the basis for all mezcal spirits

Many mezcals use a similar distillation process. The piña, or agave stem, is roasted and smoked in an underground pit, and then crushed before being left to ferment in water. Even after distillation, mezcal delivers a strong smoky taste – a residual effect of this production methodology.

When you exclude mezcal and tequila, agave alcohols remain relatively unknown in our city’s nightlife scene. But one serious up-and-comer is raicilla. Although technically a mezcal, raicilla cannot be legally labelled as such because it is produced exclusively in the state of Jalisco where mezcal production is banned. Raicilla sometimes lacks the smoky flavour of other agave-based spirits because it is cooked overground in artisanal brick ovens that allow smoke to escape.

Jay Khan serves up delicious agave-based cocktails at his Oaxaca-inspired artisanal bar, Coa
Jay Khan helms Coa, the new Oaxaca-inspired bar dedicated to agave-based spirits

Don’t expect any raicilla-based cocktails though. “Raicilla’s flavours are so nuanced and subtle that it gets lost when mixed in cocktails,” says Khan, “If guests request it on the rocks, we provide ice on the side. But cooling the liquid compresses and dampens the aromas. I’d recommend having racilla neat.”

Ready to take that first step into the world of agave-based spirits? Khan recommends Coa’s signature Horchata de Pistacho cocktail, which blends Ocho Blanco tequila with homemade horchata and pistachio orgeat. If you’re feeling more adventurous, ask the knowledgeable staff for a mezcal or raicilla recommendation. Salud!

Coa. Shop A, LG/F, Wah Shin House, 6-10 Shin Hing Street, Central.

Text: Tenzing Thondup