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Hong Kong’s Hush Hush: How to Get Into the City’s Best Speakeasies

PHOTO: Fu Lu Shou

Drink your gimlet with a slice of secrecy.

A hidden bar adds an element of discovery to a night out, and Hong Kong has no shortage of hiding spots thanks to a plethora of nondescript commercial towers and tiny alleyways. Modern speakeasies in Hong Kong pay homage to the 1920s Prohibition era with throwback décor and classic cocktails, replacing bathtub gin with premium whiskey.

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PHOTO: Fu Lu Shou
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Fu Lu Shou

Hidden in a commercial building in SoHo, right under the Mid-Level Escalators, Fu Lu Shou takes a little extra effort to find. Check the Facebook page or call ahead for the passcode, which you’ll punch into a keypad outside the commercial building. Once inside, take the elevator up to the 9th floor—the button marked with Fu Lu Shou’s logo. From there, you’ll enter a cozy space with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s a touch of Hong Kong nostalgia in every corner, from the mahjong tile-inspired throw pillows to the vintage plates. Hang here on a clear night to soak up the city vibes and fresh cocktails, which pay respect to Hong Kong flavors like the signature “Joh Sun”—meaning “Good Morning”—that’s packed with aromatic lemongrass, ginger, and chili.

INSIDER TIPThere’s a dinner menu here too, featuring Western-inspired Chinese dishes such as kung pow chicken, sweet and sour pork, crispy prawn toast, and delicious salty fried tofu.

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PHOTO: Foxglove
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Foxglove

If you fancy a little live jazz and old-world British vibes, then find your way into Foxglove. The bunker-like bar is hidden behind a storefront selling luxury Fox Umbrellas—there’s no password, you just ask to enter. Inside, find a crowd of well-heeled tipplers lounging in leather armchairs and sipping on martinis from the roaming cocktail cart. A 1940s Gloster jet engine on display and industrial-chic fixtures will take you back to the 1950s, while the menu traverses the best cocktail eras from “The Golden Age” to “Homage to Prohibition.”

INSIDER TIPIf you’re celebrating a special occasion, ask to sit in one of the secret rooms. Throughout the bar, hidden hideaways await behind unassuming walls—you just have to know where to look.

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Nocturne

This Japanese address feels urban and industrial, with concrete surrounds and a polished bar. Located on Peel Street, in SoHo, Nocturne doesn’t require a passcode to enter—you just have to slide open an unmarked wooden door and grab a seat. It’s an oasis of calm inside with candles, soft jazz music, and a sophisticated selection of premium liquors. Expect a mix of classic cocktails, wines and lesser-known beer and whiskies, including bottles from Yamazaki, Nikka, and Bowmore.

INSIDER TIPTry the signature Japanese Old Fashioned, or opt for a glass of wine. There’s a tech-savvy wine cellar upstairs where reasonably priced vintages and boutique bottles await.

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PHOTO: J. Boroski
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J. Boroski

A new addition to the Hong Kong cocktail scene, J.Boroski aims to attract a certain kind of clientele. For one, it takes a bit of an effort to find its location—a secret until you make a reservation. The sophisticated urban oasis is situated down a dark alleyway off Pottinger Street in Central. Amber lighting sets the mood, while suspender-clad mixologists behind the teakwood bar serve up custom cocktails—mixed based on your personality or taste preferences. Throughout the lounge, find curious details that speak to the experimental vibe, like preserved beetles on the ceiling and a spider collection adorning the semi-private seating nooks.

INSIDER TIPThe bar is named after American mixologist Joseph Boroski, who designed the cocktail menu in Hong Kong and runs another bar of the same name in Bangkok.

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PHOTO: Stockton
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Stockton

Following in the footsteps of sister bar Brickhouse, a hidden Mexican outfit in Central, Stockton is another out-of-sight gem, this time oozing old-world English glamour. A picture of a dangling light bulb on a wall along buzzing Wyndham Street marks the alleyway where you’ll find this elegant outpost. Climb the stairs and knock on the door, which opens to a beautifully appointed den of 1900s luxury. Channeling a gentleman’s club, the British environment features comfy leather couches, antique furniture, stuffed birds and animals, wood-paneled walls, and intimate nooks for privacy. While you can confidently order classic drinks here, the house creations are more exciting. Pore over an encyclopedic menu that pairs each unique cocktail with a few quirky factoids to explain the drink’s origin and inspiration.

INSIDER TIPThere’s a secret cigar lounge hidden away within the bar, but you’ll have to know a member to peek inside.

Book a Hotel

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PHOTO: Mizunara: The Library
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Mizunara: The Library

Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district is better known for its salacious clubs and late-night dive bars, but there’s a crop of classy new watering holes mixing up the scene. One such number is Japanese speakeasy Mizunara: The Library. Situated in a nondescript commercial building, the swish cocktail bar is home to zen Ginza vibes, featuring a small outdoor terrace, leather armchairs, and a spacious bar made of namesake mizunara oak wood. Bartender-in-chief Masahiko Endo pours quality handcrafted cocktails and has amassed an impressive collection of whiskies, with more than 700 bottles behind the bar.

INSIDER TIPAsk about Mizunara’s two private whisky bottlings—there’s a single-cask 15-year Sherry Hogshead and a peaty single-cask whisky from Mars Shinshu Distillery in Japan.

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PHOTO: Executive Bar
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Executive Bar

Leave the frenetic streets of Causeway Bay behind as you ascend the elevator to the 27th floor of a commercial building to reach Executive Bar. The Japanese-style address offers a quiet and refined whisky drinking experience, complete with hand-chipped ice cubes and gorgeous harbor views. From a perch by the long wooden bar, watch the masters at work while they stir and shake custom cocktails and popular signatures, like the Saketini. Or opt to keep it simple with a nip of whisky—take your pick from rare bottles sourced from Scotland, America, and Asia.

INSIDER TIPMake a reservation before you turn up, otherwise you’ll likely be turned away.

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PHOTO: I Love John
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I Know John

Styled after an American-style speakeasy, I Know John pays tribute to its predecessors with leather furniture, brass fixtures, and warm wood all around. It’s a more casual address with an easy menu of cheese and charcuterie. The cocktail list gets a bit more creative with unusual offerings that seem to borrow inspiration from around the globe. Try the “Walter’s Blue,” inspired by Walter White of Breaking Bad fame. The cocktail combines vanilla, Thai chili, bitters, egg, white passion fruit, and Chartreuse.

INSIDER TIPDespite the name, you don’t have to actually “know John” to get in. Simply find your way to the ninth floor of The Loop building in Central, where you’ll find the bar behind a metal door.

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PHOTO: Ping Pong Gintonería
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Ping Pong Gintonería

A Spanish gin and tonic bar, Ping Pong Gintonería put Sai Ying Pun—a western district of Hong Kong—on the map. Located behind an unmarked red door on sleepy Second Street, Ping Pong is named after its former incarnation as a table tennis hall. Walk down the narrow stairwell and the bar opens into a wide space with sky-high ceilings. Contemporary art hangs on the walls, and above the bar a neon sign reads “Ping Pong City.” It’s all about gin here, so expect specialty bottles from boutique brands such as Gin Self, Farmer’s Organic Gin, GinMare, and G’Vine Floraison.

INSIDER TIPThere are about a dozen types of gin and tonic on the menu—try a Martin Miller for a classic G&T or go for a Siderite for a hint of pink pepper and rose. They’re all served in giant goblets with hand-chipped ice cubes to enhance the aroma and make every sip feel like an occasion.

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PHOTO: Bar De Luxe
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Bar De Luxe

A newcomer in the Central business district, Bar De Luxe is hidden in plain sight—across the street from one of Hong Kong’s busiest metro stations on the top floor of a retail tower. To get there, tipplers must head up to the 29th floor, then look for the discreet stairwell to the left of Attire House, a gentleman’s lifestyle concept that includes an apparel store and a barbershop. Once upstairs, step into a space featuring handsome wood furniture, a long gleaming bar, intimate nooks, and panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. When it comes to the drinks, Bar De Luxe shares a few signature cocktails with its sister bar—Bar High Five in Tokyo—including the popular Black Negroni.

INSIDER TIPAward-winning mixologist and bar owner Hidetsugu Ueno has appointed protégé Yuriko Naganuma to helm the bar in Hong Kong. Sporting suspenders and a smile, Naganuma crafts her own homemade canapes, as well as a few unique drinks, such as a Japanese-inspired Old Fashioned dubbed the “Hidden Gem.”