This article is part of a guide to Hong Kong from FT Globetrotter
I wanted to create something from Caprice Bar at the Four Seasons that pays homage to Hong Kong milk tea, the city’s most representative beverage, which can be found at local food stalls and traditional cha chaan teng cafés.
My cocktail, called Native Fizz, is a refreshing and comforting highball that draws its inspiration from the famous local drink. In the original recipe for milk tea, condensed milk is combined with black tea and sugar. For the Native Fizz, we adopted similar ingredients and translated them into a fizz-style cocktail: fresh milk is split into gin, which adds a creamy texture and mouthfeel, while the Earl Grey tea gives a subtle citrusy edge to the drink.
Combine all ingredients (except the soda water) to shake and strain into a highball glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with grapefruit peel and mint
Hong Kong’s fondness for seafood stems from our proximity to the shore. One of the most celebrated times of year here is when the Chinese mitten crab, known as the “hairy crab”, is in season. There are guides to the best places to eat it all over the internet and many restaurants will feature it as a special or even dedicate an entire menu to it. My favourite way to enjoy hairy-crab season is to source them from local shops and gather friends and family at home for a messy adventure around the table.
Our umami-rich cocktail, Claw-some, is inspired by this fun and prized delicacy. At my bar, Quinary, we steam whole hairy crabs with shiso leaves and ginger to balance out the excessive “coolness” in the crab. We serve the crabmeat and buttery golden crab roe with a Chinese black vinegar and ginger mix, alongside a little bit of plum wine — both of which add warming flavours to the crab — and I’ve included those ingredients here. The unique soy-sauce-like aftertaste in Moutai creates harmony too, hence I’ve added a touch of it to enhance this already claw-some cocktail.
Combine all ingredients (except the ginger beer) to shake and strain into a highball glass. Top with ginger beer
My cocktail here at PDT is a take on a classic drink: the Corpse Reviver No 2, originally featured in the famous Savoy Cocktail Book first published in 1930. The Corpse Reviver is meant to be the perfect hangover cure. Since the pandemic has forced much of Hong Kong to a halt, my cocktail — the HK reviver — is a nod to the city’s recovery.
The HK Reviver is made with Nip (a Hong Kong-distilled gin), osmanthus wine to complement the floral notes of the base spirit, and enhanced with orange liqueur and fresh lemon to highlight the subtle citrus note of the gin. It’s shaken and served in a chilled cocktail glass and finished with a grapefruit twist for a citrus-rind aroma. It’s fresh, fun and hopeful — exactly what we need after the pandemic.
Shake and serve straight up in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist
Our Hong Kong-inspired cocktail from The Wise King is the Shoumei Old Fashioned. It’s based on the traditional drink but made using local ingredients and flavours. We’ve used NIP Rare Dry Gin, made here in Hong Kong, because it offers an array of local flavours such as teas, osmanthus, aged tangerine peel, goji berries and fresh pear. We’ve used shoumei-tea syrup and bitters to reflect the traditional recipe but also add a modern, Hong Kong twist. (Shoumei is a type of white tea that is enjoyed here, especially during yum cha, or a meal with dim sum.)
The complexity of the gin is on full display in this cocktail, punctuated by the addition of the bittersweet tea syrup. The four drops of grapefruit bitters create a complex, lingering taste that is soothing and refreshing at the same time, familiar but surprising, like Hong Kong itself.
Combine the ingredients in a rocks glass. Add a large lump of ice and gently stir. Garnish with a gold chocolate coin
To celebrate Hong Kong in a cocktail glass, I wanted to reflect the city’s culturally diverse society and its global diaspora — and as Coa is a Mexican-inspired craft-cocktail bar, I had to add a little Mexican touch.
La Chinesca is a Chinese and Mexican fusion cocktail inspired by a neighbourhood of the same name in the city of Mexicali, historically home to Mexico’s largest Chinese community. It boasts more Chinese restaurants per capita than any other place in Mexico — more than 200 for the whole city, most with Cantonese-style cuisine.
The drink is influenced by Hong Kong’s Cantonese cuisine, highlighting the typical flavours from ingredients such as sesame oil, coriander and ginger.
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake well until the shaker is cold and the cocktail is aerated. Double strain into a Tajin-rimmed martini glass. Garnish with 3 drops of sesame oil
What is your favourite drink that captures the spirit of Hong Kong? Tell us in the comments
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