Bar Review: Where to Find the Best Gin and Tonics in Hong Kong

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Bottles of craft gins from around the world are on display atop the bar at Vibes, an upscale cocktail lounge in Hong Kong.

Food + Beverage

One of the most popular outdoor bars and pubs in Hong Kong, Vibes has launched a Friday night G&T Remix menu featuring craft gins, premium tonics, and dried and fresh botanical garnishes. Do it yourself or let the bartender mix it for you!

Vibes is a  popular outdoor lounge at The Mira in Kowloon’s trendy Tsim Sha Tsui district. Located on the five-star hotel’s rooftop courtyard, the stylish watering hole is frequently mostly by hotel guests and loyal locals, who favour its classic cocktails, yummy bar bites, laid-back atmosphere, and vinyl vibes.

A live DJ spins jazz discs four nights a week from 8 pm to 12 midnight. Fruit shisha is served by an Egyptian shisha master.

G&T Nights

Vibes has given new meaning to the expression Thank God It’s Friday. Would you believe, Thank God, It’s G&T?

Guests are invited to create their own gin-based cocktails – or they can order them from the innovative G&T Remix menu and have them expertly prepared by the talented bartenders.

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Spices as well as fresh and dried fruit to be used as garnish for gin and tonic cocktails.

Available on Friday evenings, the G&T Remix menu is all about botanicals: think premium gins mixed with boutique tonics garnished with dried fruit, fresh herbs, and flower petals.

You can create your own gin and tonic cocktail using one of 15 craft gins from around the world: Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain as well as well several unique tonics and a selection of garnishes.

Unless you have a mean hand with a shaker, however, I would recommend ordering from 10 gin and tonic cocktails listed on the drinks menu. They are presented “greatest hits” style on a vinyl disc.

And speaking of discs, there is a live DJ spinning some very groovy discs from 8 pm until the midnight hour.

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A cocktail made with Italian gin and Australian tonic.

The gin-based cocktails run from fruity and light to slightly sweet, zesty, and dry; herbal and citrus with high quinine; fruity and slightly herbal; slightly dry and spicy; and slightly sweet and zesty.

I started with a slightly sweet, zesty, and dry gin and tonic tipple made with Roby Marion gin from Italy, Bickford tonic from Australia, and the following spices: cinnamon, clove, star anise, cardamom, and sage. OMG, was it ever refreshing!

I moved on to a fruity and light cocktail made with Mint and Lia gin from Britain, Fever Tree tonic from England, and orange bitters, an orange wedge, and mint.

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Bar bites include quesadillas (left) and nachos.

Feeling a bit peckish, my host and I then shared some appetizing nachos and quesadillas, which were washed down by another gin-based cocktail, whose name I forgot to ask.

  • BTW, if you did ‘t take Spanish in high school (or were not to the manner born), quesadilla is pronounced KAY-suh-DEE-yuh. The double LL in Spanish is pronounced like a Y in English.

According to the hotel’s press release, gin and tonic was invented by the Dutch, turned into an institution by British, and taken to a higher level by the Spanish.

Judging by the three gin and tonics I sampled, I think that the mixologists at Vibes have taken the time-honoured G&T to an even higher level!

I was invited to sample the new gin cocktails by the hotel’s PR department, and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening – as always! The Mira has two of my favourite watering holes in Hong Kong.

In addition to Vibes, the hotel has a very sophisticated lobby bar called Room One, which is located on the hotel’s ground floor along with two other food and beverage outlets: Yamm, the hotel’s all-day-dining buffet restaurant, and Coco, a cafe and patisserie serving coffee and sweets.

The Venue

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Comfortable seating and soft jazz provide the perfect setting for conversation.

Vibes is an outdoor lounge with open fires, running waterways, and private cabanas. In addition to classic cocktails and some very yummy snacks, fruit shisha is served by an Egyptian shisha master.

DJs play laid-back tracks four nights a week. If you can‘t wait until 6 pm Friday for gin and tonics, there is an Arabic Night on Thursday with a belly dancer and a live DJ playing laid-back Arabic tunes

Vibes is hidden away on the fifth floor of The Mira, one of Hong Kong’s trendiest and most technologically wired hotels. It was, after all, the first hotel in Asia to offer complimentary smartphones to all guests, a service that was launched in 2013.

Vibes and Whisk, the fine-dining restaurant next door, can be a bit difficult to find because they are actually accessed through the building’s third floor – unless you are a hotel guest.

Hotel guests have direct access to the fifth floor by way of the elevator, but a room card is required. Everyone else should access Vibes by taking an elevator to the third floor and walking up another two flights.

The Verdict

Vibes is surely one of Kowloon’s best-kept secrets, and it can be a bit difficult to find. But that is part of its charm. You won’t just stumble upon the place. You’ve got to know where you’re going to get there.

Having said that, the place was packed on the night I went there, but it did not feel crowded because the tables and cabanas are sufficiently spread out. It was especially pleasant to sit on the comfy sofas on a brisk winter evening.

Something else I liked about Vibes was the background music. Unlike many cocktail lounges in Hong Kong, where the background music is so loud you can hardly hear yourself think, the music played at Vibes is loud enough to provide a mellow backdrop to your conversation while not interfering with it.

As for the purpose of my visit, I loved the three G&T cocktails I tried, especially the first one, which was made with a selection of spices and a big chunk of fresh fruit – very refreshing, with a slightly bitter note.

It reminded me of the five-spice mojito I had fallen in love with at a hotel in Bangkok about six months earlier.

Where

Vibes – 5/F, The Mira Hong Kong, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tel: (852) 2315 5599.

Note: Despite the Nathan Road address, The Mira’s main entrance is actually situated on Kimberley Road. Rather than going through the hotel lobby, however, there is a separate entrance to hotel’s fifth-floor food and beverage outlets to the right of the hotel’s main entrance. Take the elevator to the third floor and walk up two more flights.

Vibes: without doubt, one of the best bars and pubs in Hong Kong for gin-based and classic cocktails!

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