Lots of empty/emptied glasses late in the evening
at the bar over at Employees Only...
...but no hangover the morning after thanks to having also
consumed quite a bit of food and drank lots of water on the night! ;b
Are there more cocktail bars now in Hong Kong than British-style pubs? This would seem a ridiculous question to ask back when Hong Kong was a British Crown colony and probably even 10 years after the Handover. But in view of the number of cocktail bars that have opened -- and which I've been to -- in the past few years (and the number of (in)famous taprooms which have shut down over the same period), I think there's a strong possibility that representatives of this particular type of drinking establishment -- and high end ones at that -- are not only the rage but where the majority of money is spent for alcoholic tipple here in the Big Lychee!
Among the most talked about new bars established this summer is the Hong Kong outpost of New York City-based Employees Only. Located smackdab in Lan Kwai Fong but possessing signage so discreet that it actually isn't all that easy to spot (and thereby makes it feel like you have to be "in the know" to get in), this establishment with a distinctively New York feel also has a dining room but the evening that I went there with a friend, that space was close to empty whereas the bar area was pretty hopping.
In addition, unlike many other cocktail bars I've been to, it actually has a food menu that looks less like a bar menu than one that wouldn't disgrace an actual restaurant; which pleased my friend and I a great deal since, more than once now, we've had to reluctantly leave a bar after a couple of drinks in search of food to fill our stomachs before we called it a night (with at least one cocktail bar we've been to -- J. Boroski, I'm naming you! -- not even having complimentary peanuts, pretzels or chips to help soak up the alcohol!).
As it so happened, the charcuterie and cheese board that we ordered was pleasingly generous in size as well as delicious; with it being much appreciated that the extra bread we got was actually complimentary, since there's many an establishment here in Hong Kong that would be charge for that. Even more surprising was how liberal the bartenders were with dispensing free drinks; with my friend and I being given a total of four free shots each (two of amaro (Averna and Montenegro), and two of rum (including 7-year-old Angostura)) along with a sample of the fruity house alcoholic slushy in addition to getting "comped" one each of the three cocktails we each had on the night!
While it's true that I'm not a complete stranger to getting free drinks, it's usually only happened after I've become a regular at the particular bar, have a friend who is a friend of the bar owner or -- this has happened a couple of times, actually -- shocked a bartender into realizing that I know he hadn't actually prepared my cocktail with adequate care. So what happened there??
The friend I was with reasoned that the folks at Employees Only are being particularly friendly and welcoming in order in the first few months of the bar's operation to win over support and have people spreading good word of mouth about it. This may be true -- and if it is, hey, it's working because I'm doing my bit to give them free and good publicity by writing positively about them on this blog! (And for the record: yes, the cocktails I had were pretty good; and yes, I would indeed be happy to go there again for drinks and dinner! ;b)