Hong Kong’sRoom 309 might not be as internationally known as its sister bars Quinary and the Michelin-starred VEA, but one could say it’s getting there, having won the highly competitive Creative Cocktail Bar of the Year category at The Bar Awards earlier this year. This cosy, 20-seater outfit falls under the Tastings Group umbrella, which is run by celebrity bartender Antonio Lai, as well as superwoman and mother hen, Charlene Dawes.
With a name inspired by the boutique hotel (The Pottinger Hong Kong) in which it is housed in, Room 309 goes by another moniker – the Room of Imagination. For one, this room doesn’t actually “exist” as room numbers don’t run up to number nine on the property, but it is possible to get in with a key card you receive when you check in at “The Reception” (The Envoy) next door.
The windowless room is certainly designed to poke at one’s imagination, coming across like a Victorian-era den where you might or might not find the dark arts being practiced. Think period fixtures, walnut furniture, a thin, monochrome tiled bar, and hues of seductive green about the space. Their ‘invisible’ menu of cocktails of no colour continues that narrative, and we’re glad to report that the alchemic powers are indeed strong here.
The philosophy is not difficult to grasp – we all judge cocktails to a certain degree by their colours, so by removing this particular element, it’s the palate that gets the first say and the full force of the unbridled flavour complexity.
It doesn’t mean that the drinks at Room 309 aren’t visual treats. A prime example lies in the light and spritzy Banana di Mana (HK$128), a gin cocktail made with banana nectar, coriander tincture, and soda water. Served in a flute with a thin block of ice encasing micro herbs, it’s a surprisingly elegant drink for perhaps what is not a particularly elegant fruit. We like that there’s just the right amount of banana flavour and how the flavour changes slightly when the ice melts, thereby releasing the herbs into the drink. Best part? It’s also available spirit free, so you don’t have to look like the sober sister at the bar.
Indulge in some daytime drinking vibes with 3:09PM (HK$128), where notes of bright coffee on the nose (courtesy of re-distilled Kahlua) lures you in. The rest of the recipe – Pisco, passion fruit purée, and angostura bitters – make for a tart, easy drinking tipple.
True to its name, the Crystal Old Fashioned (HK$138) arrived crystal clear. Made from re-distilled peanut butter bourbon, homemade wood chips bitters, and banana concentrate, the texture of the cocktail was, thankfully, as viscous as that of a regular Old Fashioned. Well balanced with a strong aroma of peanut butter, a long-ish fruity finish. We highly recommend eating the cherry garnish; the folks at Room 309 buy them in bulk during cherry season and prep them in house.
The food menu – aptly titled “In-Room Snacks” – is relatively limited at Room 309 with just five items. It can be tempting to go for the prettily plated Tuna Tartare Filo Tart (HK$108 for four) with chipotle and jalapeño dressing, but if you’re more than peckish, the White Anchovies Tartine (HK$128) with plancha bread and bell pepper salsa or the Terrine of Forest Mushrooms & Pork (HK$158) will satisfy.
Address: Level 3, The Pottinger Hong Kong, 74 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong Phone: N.A Website: https://www.room309.hk/ Opening hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am. Closed Sun.
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