The Old Man

Crave - - FEAST - Words Iris Wong Cock­tail photo Sa­man­tha Sin

The Bar

Amer­i­can nov­el­ist Ernest Hem­ing­way’s char­ac­ters love a good drink, as did the man him­self. So it’s fit­ting that new cock­tail bar The Old Man is named in homage to Hem­ing­way’s The Old Man and the Sea.

It is the brain­child of three of Hong Kong’s award­win­ning cock­tail and bar pi­o­neers, Agung Prabowo, James Ta­mang and Ro­man Ghale. An elu­sive hide­away on Aberdeen Street, it sports a Ha­vana-style art deco in­te­rior dom­i­nated by a mo­saic portrait of Hem­ing­way made from left­over build­ing ma­te­ri­als. The Old Man has sev­eral in­ti­mate ta­bles for those who pre­fer a bit of pri­vacy, but the best seats in the house are at the spotlit bar ta­ble, fit­ted with a freez­ing panel to keep drinks cool, and com­fort­able cush­ioned stools for watch­ing the bar­tenders shake, stir and pour.

The Drinks

The Old Man’s cock­tail menu con­sists of nine ex­per­i­men­tal con­coc­tions ($90 each) in­spired by the revered writer’s nov­els and drinks of choice, but with a dis­tinctly Asian twist. On the ad­vice of head mixol­o­gist Agung Prabowo we started with The Snows of Kil­i­man­jaro. Rem­i­nis­cent of a White Lady, it is a del­i­cate li­ba­tion of house-made marsh­mal­low gin and lacto-fer­mented rasp­ber­ries, pro­duced dur­ing a three­day fer­men­ta­tion process in­volv­ing pro­tein pow­der and white yeast to take away the berry’s nat­u­ral sweet­ness (Hem­ing­way didn’t like sweet drinks). The cock­tail is sprin­kled with gruyere “snowflakes” for added umami that works sur­pris­ingly well with the rasp­ber­ries. Next was a twist on the orig­i­nal Hem­ing­way cre­ation Death in the Af­ter­noon, an in­tense con­coc­tion of ab­sinthe and cham­pagne. The Old Man’s bar­tenders mel­lowed down the cock­tail by adding coco-pan­dan yo­gurt and a touch of nut­meg to off­set the dry­ness on the palate. We ended with Green Hills of Africa. Topped with a layer of vel­vety foam, the ro­bust in­fu­sion of rose­mary, pisco, cit­rus, turmeric and tamarind left us with a nice buzz.

The Ver­dict

The Old Man of­fers a small but com­pelling menu of in­ven­tive cock­tails. At $90 a drink, it is sure to be a hit with a Soho crowd used to pay­ing $140-plus for lack­lus­tre cock­tails. The Hem­ing­way-in­spired wa­ter­ing hole is packed by 7pm, so get there early, espe­cially if you want a seat at the bar.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Hong Kong

© PressReader. All rights reserved.