Sinlessly Delicious: These zero-alcohol cocktails are not to be mocked

2020 might have seen the rise of a new trend in the form of bottled cocktails and wine deliveries. Now, though, with dining-in restrictions extended to 10pm, what better way to catch up with loved ones than to unwind over a drink or two. And if your New Year’s resolution is to cut back on alcohol, fear not, for below are some of the city’s most deliciously sophisticated alcohol-free cocktails to try…

gafencu wine Deliciously sinless These zero-alcohol beverages are not to be mocked quinary early grey tea caviar
Image: Quinary

Earl Grey Caviar Martini

Sinlessly delicious is the Quinary’s spirit-free version of its signature and all-time bestseller, Earl Grey Caviar Martini. Fresh and citrusy with cucumber, red apple juice, lemon juice and elderflower cordial. Topped with Earl Grey tea caviar and a tower of Earl Grey tea air for a sumptuous touch, this tea-based mocktail from the award winning bar is a definite must-try.
Price: $140
Location: Quinary, Central

gafencu wine Deliciously sinless These zero-alcohol beverages are not to be mocked the envoy morning dew (2)
Image: The Envoy

Morning Dew 
For a delightfully fresh treat, the Morning Dew from Central-set, colonial-inspired restaurant The Envoy serves up a Dilmah green tea and jasmine double-strength tea mocktail, topped with a own homemade pandan syrup that’s described as “pearls of dew clinging onto the tips of long blades of grass, sparkling in the light”. The British eatery, located in The Pottinger, is ranked among Asia’s Top 50 Best Bars, so this is one drink you’re all but guaranteed to enjoy.
Price: $110
Location: The Envoy, Central

gafencu wine Deliciously sinless These zero-alcohol beverages are not to be mocked ozone
Image: Ozone via Facebook

Set against the breathtaking panoramic views of Victoria Harbour, Ozone’s take on an alcohol-free classic Sangria comes in the form of the sophisticated Ruby. Mixed with the celebrated zero-alcohol distilled spirit Seedlip Grove 42 and Merlot Juice, this classy mocktail is an uncanny replica of its red wine counterpart. Needless to say, patrons are likely to cheer on for many rounds through the night with a sweeping view of the city skyline to drink to atop the ICC.
Price: $110
Location: Ozone, Tsim Sha Tsui

gafencu wine Deliciously sinless These zero-alcohol beverages are not to be mocked le garcon saigon (2)
Image: Le Garcon Saigon via Facebook

D’Ho Chi Minh
For a of taste of springtime in a glass, the fruity D’Ho Chi Minh by Wan Chai-set Vietnamese restaurant Le Garcon Saigon delivers exotic flavours of the tropics. Boasting delicious notes of pineapple, lychee, lime and egg white, the tipple is beautifully presented in a simple tall rock glass to highlight its vibrant hues. Inspired by Parisian brassieres, Le Garcon Saigon is chic and elegant space that serves as the perfect setting to enjoy a casual afternoon meal over drinks.
Price: $98
Location: La Garcon Saigon, Wan Chai

gafencu wine Deliciously sinless These zero-alcohol beverages are not to be mocked potato head seedlip sour
Image: Potato Head via Facebook

Seedlip Sour
For an exclusive round of drinks against the backdrop of contemporary decor, stylish furniture and funky music, look no further than the renowned Balinese restaurant Potato Head’s best kept secret, The Music Room. Among its selections of alcohol-free elixirs (courtesy of the connected Eksotika bar) is the Seedlip Sour, a spirit-free mint and oleo syrup cocktail with citrus and sugarcane juices that comes topped with the bar’s signature mojito foam.
Price: $85
Location: Potato Head, Sai Ying Pun


Restaurant review: Ignis by Linx, a contemporary resto-lounge for sophisticated revellers

It’s a bold move to open yet another resto-lounge in the rather-saturated party hub of Lan Kwai Fung, but Ignis by Linx, that opened doors just a few months ago on the first and second floors of California Tower, seems more equipped than most to meet the challenge. 

Ignis by Linx
Interiors at Ignis by Linx

Sprawling over two floors – a modern club and lounge space on the first floor and a decadent dining room on the second, connected by a spiral atrium staircase – Ignis seems designed to allure the more sophisticated breed of revellers, those who wouldn’t settle for anything less than top-class tipples, while also enjoying a vibrant high-octane entertainment experience. And, thankfully, the bevvies at Ignis far from disappoint.  

Ignis by Linx
Fourth Hokage with Tanqueray, Four Fox sake, lemongrass syrup

Under the careful craftsmanship of bar manager Paulo Quejano, the classic cocktails here get a modern makeover – so we have the timeless Old Fashioned given a contemporary twist with fat-washed bourbon, peanut butter and truffle, while the much-loved Cosmopolitan is reinterpreted with orange Curaçao liqueur, slow-cooked with raspberries, thyme and a hint of turmeric. 

Ignis by Linx

Suitably satiated, guests can turn their attention to matters more gastronomic, and here too, Ignis’s menu can hardly fail to impress discerning gourmands with its contemporary cuisine that deftly blends Western elements with Asian touches. It’s a feat achieved by none other than executive chef Mark Sin, who has previously worked at such acclaimed restaurants as Tom Aikens and Mirabelle in London, and Bo Innovation in Hong Kong.

Ignis by Linx
Mushroom with confit egg yolk & potato puree

From the carefully-curated menu, the standouts that we would recommend are, of course, the morels and king mushrooms with confit egg yolk, a rich decadent affair with creamy yolk and tomato puree, and the petite-sized lobster bisque, which featured a single lobster wanton in chili oil, a perfectly savoury appetite-enhancing start to any meal. Moving on to the mains, the grilled octopus leg with kimchi mayonnaise and ponzu daikon would vie for your attention, both due to its enormous portion and its soft, yet mildly charred texture. Another crowd-pleaser is easily the succulent mint-crusted lamb loin served with home-made onion jam and house-fermented pickled mustard.

Ignis by Linx
Grilled octopus leg

It is, then, safe to say that it’s its cuisine and ambience that makes Ignis by Linx a worthy addition to Hong Kong’s favourite party destination, but only time will tell if the resto-lounge can capture and hold the fancy of the city’s famously fickle partygoers. We hope it does, because we’d like to give Ignis our metaphorical thumbs-up!

Ignis by Linx
1 & 2/F, California Tower
Lan Kwai Fong
(852) 2623 0298

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay

Give wings to gastronomic fantasies at Popinjays, The Murray’s new rooftop restaurant

The Murray has added yet another feather to its cap with the opening of Popinjays – a rooftop restobar.


Intrigued by the quirky name that’s been borrowed from the parrots in the neighbouring Garden Road, we decided to check out this hotspot that everybody’s been talking about, and, honestly, it looked quite promising from the word go!


Clearly meant to attract crowds throughout the day and well into the night, Popinjays is a truly versatile space, easily serving as a brunch spot in the morning, a lounge in the evening and a fine-dining venue at night, all perfectly synced to the changing colours of the sky whose unrestricted views one can enjoy, through the glass pavilion and outside on the wraparound terrace. Located atop the 25th-storey hotel, Popinjays easily commands the most Instagrammable views of Central. We’d personally recommend visiting the restaurant a bit before dusk, just in time to see Hong Kong’s skyline lighting up with neon lights from the surrounding skyscrapers.


Suitably satiated with the view, we turned our attention to the cocktail selection, which, in keeping with the general bird-inspired theme, was titled The Aviary Collection. We particularly liked the fruity, fragrant flavours of the Amazon Sour (HK$130) and the Flight of Fancy (HK$130), but those looking for something stronger can go for Popinjays Punch (HK$130) or Cockatoo on the Rocks (HK$130).


With the cocktails setting a pleasant tone for the evening, Popinjays’ dinner menu had a lot to live up to, and, oh boy, it sure did! Specially curated by Head Chef Didier Quennouelle, Popinjays’ speciality is French fine-dining with typical French savoir faire. The two appetisers, a textured salad of Tomatoes and Philibon Melon (HK$220) and a thinly-sliced veal starter called Vitello Tonnato (HK$260) were both light and easy on the palate, but it was the main course of Roast Vendée Pigeon (HK$650) that was the show-stealer. Tender and succulent, we recommend ordering it medium-rare to enjoy its full flavours.


Of the dessert selection, the Caramelized Golden Apple Cheese Cake (HK$130) stood out for getting the right balance between crunchy and smooth. Not too sweet on the palate, it’s also recommended for those who don’t have a strong sweet tooth.


With its perfect fusion of cosmopolitan cuisine and breathtaking views, it wouldn’t be a flight of fancy to say that Popinjays has truly enriched the restaurants and bars scene in our beloved city!

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay

New York Speakeasy Braves New Heights at Ritz-Carlton Rooftop Bar


From 19 to 23 September 2017, award-winning Manhattan cocktail bar Death & Co. is hosting a pop-up at the Ozone sky bar atop The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

Led by Tyson Buhler, winner of the World Class American Bartender of the Year award in 2015, Death & Co.’s elite team of bartenders will serve “modern-classic cocktails” that pay homage to traditional tipples, while adding new twists to the emerging cocktail scene.

Death & Co.’s signature cocktails include, among others, Fix, a tequila-based cocktail with edible flower garnishing, and Martini, which combines Ketel One vodka and sherry with an olive and bay leaf tincture. Ozone’s chef de cuisine Rafael Gil will be serving small plates inspired by American gastronomy such as Wagyu beef BLTs, crispy onion hot dogs and cheddar-bacon Rustic Fries.

The New York cocktail bar is acclaimed for innovating the cocktail scene, having won the Best American Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Cocktail Menu awards at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in 2010.

Happy New Beer


The Year of The Rooster is upon us and, as ever, it is only fitting that we welcome it with champagne all round. As the year progresses, though, what else should we be looking to fill our glasses with?

As in so many other aspects of our lives, our drinking habits have become increasingly subject to fashion. At one time, we used to form long-lasting loyalties to wine regions, spirit categories and brands and even to particular cocktails. Such allegiances were formed early in adulthood and then we stuck to them for years.

Such days are gone. Now we thirst for novelty. In certain quarters, though, there is a certain nostalgia for the way things used to be.

Our former habits had the merit of making life easier for bartenders. Customers would come through the door of their preferred watering hole and their favoured tipple would be waiting for them by the time they got to the bar.
Knowing a customer’s preferences was a matter of professional pride for a bartender. These days, though, that sort of service is no longer appreciated. Preferences change from day-to-day and many don’t care to have their choices pre-empted.
Even champagne has fallen victim to fashion. At present, the consumption of prosecco and cava is growing steadily across the world, while French bubbles are being very much left behind.

In 2016, champagne shipments to China fell for the fourth consecutive year. They are not expected to pick up any time soon.
Of course, fickle fashion is only one factor in this decline. With conspicuous consumption of premium priced products now officially frowned upon across the mainland, whisk(e)y, cognac and champagne have all taken a hit, along with the more expensive red wines.

Indeed, such anti-extravagance policies are undeniably shaping trends in the drinks sector. With First Growth Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy now believed to be best drunk discreetly in private, people are more inclined to investigate less ambitiously priced wines.

Cars,_Gironde-in Bordeaux

They are finding that true quality can be found at far more affordable prices. Indeed, recognising value is at the heart of connoisseurship. In line with this, while austerity may be bad news for the most expensive tiers of Bordeaux and Burgundy, over the next year or so more and more people are likely to be looking at what the wines of Spain, Italy, Portugal and the New World producers have to offer.

Lesser known European wine producing countries are also looking to make inroads into Hong Kong and China. The exhibitor list for last November’s Hong Kong International Wine Fair is proof positive of that particular development.
Tellingly, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia were all listed among the countries with wines to promote. Despite that, though, France and Italy still garnered the most attention.

In another development, patriotic purchasing power and the increasing volume of better quality domestic wines from within China itself should make the Year of the Rooster a banner one for the mainland’s growing number of wine estates. Last November saw the launch of the first Ao Yun vintage from Moet Hennessy, a new red wine made from grapes grown in the Himalayan heights of North Yunnan.

In total, only 24,000 bottles of the 2013 vintage have been produced. Indeed, it has taken Moet’s operation some time to get to the point where it felt the wine was good enough to release at all. According to Jean-Guillaume Prats, president and chief executive of Moet Hennessy Estates & Wines, now that it has got there, the aim is to improve the wine with each vintage. Its avowed aim is to be “not only high quality, but world class.”

There is also speculation that the Year of the Rooster might finally see Greater China learn to appreciate the great white wines. While such a development is long overdue, Asia is quite different to the other new markets around the world. Typically, white wine has found a foothold in such territories well before the reds have made any headway. It will be interesting to see just how much progress can be made.

In China and Hong Kong, Western grape wine continues to be an “aspirational” drink, a status that baijiu – or at any rate any baijiu below state banquet grade – doesn’t quite enjoy. This, though, could very well be the year in which attempts to drag it upmarket bear some fruit.To be fair, it possibly makes more sense than mixing cocktails with tea. At one recent cocktail competition in Hong Kong, about half the bartenders used tea leaves, apparently because they wanted their creations to have a distinctively Chinese character.

That particular trend has, hopefully, run its course. Tea usually masks the spirit base and dulls the taste of defining ingredients.

In Hong Kong, the middle ground between uncompromising hard liquor classics – such as the Dry Martini and the Negroni – and alcohol-free mocktails is being occupied by fruity acidic concoctions, all with too many ingredients and all with very little kick.

Contributing to this problem is the fact that many people – a clientele that now has to be accommodated – have learned to love cocktail bars, without really understanding cocktails.

Among the bubbles forecast to burst this year are the gin and the craft beer bubbles. We’ve heard lots about both over the past few years and it’s probably true that they are due for a market correction, with some of the sillier products falling by the wayside. At least, let’s hope so.