The east-meets-west cliché rings remarkably true in Hong Kong, where even the drinking scene is a based on a mix of Asian, European and millennial New World influences. The island’s colonial history means a proper Gin and Tonic can be found in a British Empire-era haunt while, just a stone’s throw away, ultra-modern bars are pushing the limits of molecular mixology. And while Britain may have officially handed control of Hong Kong back to the Chinese in 1997, much of the city’s culture—its love of cricket, high tea and day drinking—maintains a strong scent of Anglo nostalgia.
Not unlike Britain, Hong Kong’s nightlife scene is overflowing with avant-garde cocktail bars and a newly burgeoning craft brewing scene, both of which dovetail gracefully with the city’s reputation as an expat wonderland. But it’s this thirst for newness mixed with the local character that truly distinguishes Hong Kong as a global, liberal nightlife capital.
Famous for its densely built urban center, sweeping neon towers and love for all activities nocturnal, the island is home to one of the most robust service industries on earth. Bartenders, brewers, restaurateurs and drinkers from all over the world come here to stretch their muscles and discover a new landscape where they can mix their native traditions with a new array of Asian ingredients and techniques.
For a century, Hong Kong has welcomed sailors and tycoons alike, resulting in an odd sophistication and appreciation for the finer things, combined with a high tolerance for bad behavior. Here you’ll find everything from tiny Japanese cocktail joints to rowdy dance bars to elegant rooftop bars, all packed into a quixotic, pocket square of a city. —Charley Lanyon