The first independent venture of award-winning mixologist Lorenzo Antinori, Bar Leone offers an approachable take on Italian drinking culture, spotlighting the simple joys of just having a good time. “I feel that cocktails should be about comfort, conviviality, and being together with friends,” says Lorenzo. The cocktails here concentrate on reinventing well-loved classics, with a focus on seasonality, flavour and balance. Despite a love for story-telling that drives his creative vision, Lorenzo believes that at the end of the day a cocktail should be understandable and enjoyable. “I think often when you say ‘That’s interesting’, you never order a second one,” he explains. “You want to say that it’s delicious.” His summery refresh of a negroni bianco perfectly captures the sentiment, incorporating an aromatic East Asian citrus that compliments the botanical flavours of gentian root bitters, white vermouth, and gin. “Yuzu has a lot of floral characteristics that make it unique, it gives a very elegant finish and is also very refreshing.”
15 Bridges St, Central; @barleonehk
The Savory Project
Founders Jay Khan and Ajit Gurung of Coa, Asia’s certified Best Bar for three consecutive years now, have joined forces once more for a compelling bar concept unlike anything else in the city. Tapping into the complex yet largely unexplored realm of savoury cocktails, The Savory Project cooks up a captivating range of food-driven drinks of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic kind. “All the drinks in our menu have adventurous elements, but at the same time, a sense of familiarity,” says Ajit. One of their signatures is a masterfully executed liquid version of a Thai beef salad. The clarified milk punch-style cocktail uses a beef stock infused with a comprehensive medley of ingredients: coconut milk, rum, fresh kaffir leaves, ginger, lime, bird’s eye chilli, black tea for balance and peanut butter for an addictive nutty aftertaste. “We don’t want to just put a garnish and call it a Thai beef salad,” he explains. “The beef is in the drink— it gives a nice gamey, salty, and very rich flavour.” The beverage is, however, also topped with a piece of locally-made wagyu biltong that further enhances its umami elements and drives home the novel experience of this culinary cocktail.
4 Staunton Street, Soho, Central; @thesavoryproject_
Marrying Chinese culinary traditions with global influences, The Praya crafts an innovative bar programme that pays tribute to recognisable ingredients especially unique to Chinese cuisine. “The Praya seeks to promote the cocktail pairing culture, especially within Chinese dining,” explains bartender Christian Capinpin. “As such, the Hot Century Egg was created like a drinking appetiser to offer a fresh start to dinner.” Cocktails are organised into categories inspired by wuxing, or the “Five Phases” of Fire, Water, Wood, Metal and Earth in traditional Chinese philosophy. With each drink corresponding to a different flavour profile, The Praya’s Hot Century Egg boldly represents the bitter characteristics of the Metal division. “It has a touch of bitterness, however the aftertaste brings a sense of sweetness.” Vermouth infused with onion and chilli is paired with Campari and preserved egg brine, while Peddlers gin brings complimentary notes of Sichuan peppercorn for an added layer of heat. The unconventional cocktail is crowned with a slice of century egg and, because there’s no such thing as too much spice, a dollop of homemade chilli sauce.
Level 3, 181 Connaught Road West, Shek Tong Tsui; thepraya.hk
Photography: Samantha Sin
Styling: Ella Wong
EditorAlyanna Raissa J. Payos
CreditLead image: Samantha Sin for Vogue Hong Kong's August 2023 issue