There is plenty that is already British about Hong Kong.
Then the grand Asian city got an extra touch of London drinking culture when a new outpost of the swank, world-famous bar Artesian opened in The Langham Hotel in September 2014.
This is no wholesale transplant though. The new Artesian smartly takes its cocktail cues from its new base in Hong Kong.Bird’s nest in your beverage, anyone?
History Is Present
The new Artesian’s bar manager, Nepal-born Rajendra (Rush) Limbu, previously worked at some of the trendiest bars in Hong Kong—a fitting prologue to his current gig.
At Artesian, Limbu strives to capture the city, blending Chinese historical and cultural references with a modern viewpoint. One especially luxe example: Limbu’s Golden Phoenix cocktail contains a bird’s nest, made of the costly remains of dried and hardened bird saliva. It is mixed with bourbon, egg white and another glam ingredient: gold foil. The rare—and controversial—bird’s nest adds a “sweet element to the cocktail,” says Limbu.
Another cocktail, The Dim Sum Old Fashioned, is made with Michter’s Bourbon, bitters and cherry syrup and is served on a traditional Dim Sum serving tray. The Lucky No. 8, as its name suggests, is a blend of eight local berries, along with Maker’s Mark and rose marmalade.
The Globe, in Miniature
Set in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Hong Kong, Artesian also reaches wide with its menu. The bar features one of Hong Kong’s most extensive bourbon lists, offering more than 50 selections. Artesian also carries incredibly obscure tonic waters from around the world. It was even the first outside bar to bring in 1724 tonic water from Chile, which the bar menu describes as “aggressively effervescent.” The gin list is lengthy, and choices include premium gins such as the Gin Mare (made with rosemary and olives) and the Monkey 47 (created with lavender and lemon peel).
Because of the bar’s diverse clientele, Limbu tailors cocktails to guests’ varied palates. One recent example: For a group of Thai guests—who he says generally enjoy sweet drinks—he created a cocktail, made with makrut lime leaves, ginger and gin, that was inspired by the traditionally spicy Tom Yum Soup.
Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about drinks for two decades. She is the principal of the San Francisco–based Liza the Wine Chick consulting firm and regularly contributes to publications such as Wine Business Monthly, DrinkUpNY and the SOMM Journal.