The Bar Awards Hong Kong 2018 Results: Who’s The Best Of Them All?

It’s no secret that the Pearl of the Orient has seen a massive boom in interest when it comes to cocktail bars and quality booze – which brings us to the third edition of The Bar Awards Hong Kong (16 May to 22 May 2018). It’s been a good few days of non-stop drinking, which culminated in the awards party last night at Zuma as the city’s bartenders and industry players gathered to cheer each other on.

After weeks of open public nominations and judging, the results are out. Here is the full list of top bartenders and bars in Hong Kong this year.

The Rising Star: Aili K Nguyen of Employees Only

Presented by Perrier

At just 23, Aili might be young, but there’s no denying that she’s a talented mixologist. ‘The Rising Star’ has been in the industry for barely four years, and she’s already worked at top bars and restaurants across several continents. And if she sounds familiar, that’s because Aili’s been nominated as one of Hong Kong’s Top 25 bartenders by Drink World Asia in 2017.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. Bikas Somai – Foxglove
3. Rana Chandan – COA
4. Kshitiz Gurung – Stockton
5. Prem Shireesh – On Dining
6. Lok Cheung – Angel’s Share
7. Marian Lee – The Pontiac
8. Nastasia Vera Flores – The Pontiac
9. Kovic Rai – Murray Lane Bar (The Murray)
10. Sonic Chan Chun Sang – LA BASE

Best Restaurant Bar: Zuma

Presented by Mancino

Is it a coincidence that Zuma, located at Hong Kong’s most prestigious address in the heart of Central, has been in the The Miele Guide’s ‘Top Twenty Restaurant in Asia’ list for so many years? We think not. Known for bringing a sophisticated twist to traditional izakaya-style dining, they also whip up amazing drinks at their sixth floor bar and lounge.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
3. VEA
4. Lily & Bloom
5. Yardbird
6. Potato Head
7. Fang Fang
8. Employees Only
9. Aqua
10. Tokoyolima

Best Beer Bar: Second Draft

Presented by Peroni

May Chow’s Second Draft has been contending for Best Beer Bar since its opening in 2016, and it’s about time they won the title. The friendly space in Tai Hang is a favourite spot for Hong Kong’s beer community to congregate over an incredible line-up of craft beers.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. The Globe
3. TAP – The Ale Project
4. Alvy’s
5. Little Creatures
6. Bobby’s Rabble (Peel Street)
7. Blue Supreme
8. 99 Bottles
9. The Roundhouse (Central)
10. The Madhouse

Best Hotel Bar: Please Don’t Tell (The Landmark Mandarin Oriental)

Presented by Ketel One

Since arriving at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, it’s clear that this branch of the world-famous cocktail bar in New York does the original proud. With its distinctive interior, intimate vibe, and extraordinarily creative cocktails, PDT is now Hong Kong’s Best Hotel Bar 2018.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. Lobster Bar & Grill (Island Shangri-La)
3. The Envoy (The Pottinger)
4. Bar Q88 (JW Marriott)
5. Blue Bar (Four Seasons)
6. MO Bar (The Landmark Mandarin Oriental)
7. Red Sugar (Kerry Hotel)
8. M Bar (Mandarin Oriental)
9. Ozone (The Ritz-Carlton)
10. Murray Lane Bar (The Murray)

Best Bar Operations: Stockton

Presented by Avion

Stockton, the stylish restaurant and bar tucked away in the heart of Central, now holds the title of Best Bar Operations 2018. This hidden gem, when you find it, takes you back into the halcyon days of 19th century London, its drinks oozing with old-world glamour.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. Quinary
3. Employees Only
4. Lily & Bloom
5. COA
6. Foxglove
7. Aqua
8. Please Don’t Tell (The Landmark Mandarin Oriental)
9. Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour – Gin Bar
10. Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge – Tiki Bar

Best Specialist Concept: COA (Oaxaca-Inspired) Cocktail Bar

Presented by Giffard

In a city with such a boisterous bar scene, the barely six-month-old COA is now Best Specialist Concept, a title no doubt attributed to industry veteran Jay Khan’s penchant for Mexican spirits. The bar celebrates the rich drinking culture of Mexico by offering not just tequila and mezcal, but also spirits like raicilla, tuxca, bacanora, sotol, and charanda as part of its cocktail programme.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour – Gin Bar
3. Sake Central – Sake Bar
4. La Cabane (Bistro, 62 Hollywood Road) – Natural Wine Bar
5. Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge – Tiki Bar
6. Ping Pong 129 – Gin Bar
7. J. Boroski – Bespoke Cocktail Bar
8. 121 BC – Natural Wine Bar
9. Nobushi – Shochu Bar
10. Strokes – Crazy Golf

Best Hospitality Ambassador: John Nugent of Lily & Bloom

Presented by Fever-Tree

Less than a year since he left Seattle to move to Hong Kong, John Nugent would be what you call ‘fresh off the boat’. Still, it hasn’t stopped him from earning the title of ‘Best Hospitality Ambassador’ as the Head Mixologist at Lily & Bloom. We suppose it’s a given, considering he’s been in the industry since 16, first at his aunt’s restaurant and then bartending in Boston, around Europe, and in Seattle.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. Jay Khan – COA
3. Devender Kumar – 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
4. Ajit Gurung – Stockton
5. Gagan Gurung – Fang Fang
6. Beckaly Franks – The Pontiac
7. Bryson Rivera – Bar Q88 (JW Marriott)
8. Simone Rossi – Aqua
9. Nick Tse – Bar Buonasera
10. Bikas Somai – Foxglove

Best Hospitality Team: Employees Only

Presented by Hendrick’s

Crowned ‘Best New Cocktail Bar’ at last year’s Bar Awards, it’s no surprise that Employees Only – in the notorious Lan Kwai Fong – is clinching yet another award. This offshoot of the legendary New York speakeasy has since become the industry standard for hospitality alongside flawlessly executed cocktails suited to local tastes.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. Stockton
3. The Old Man
4. Yardbird
5. COA
6. Zuma
7. Please Don’t Tell (The Landmark Mandarin Oriental)
8. The Pontiac
9. Lily & Bloom
10. Aqua

Most Creative Cocktail Bar: Quinary

Presented by Cointreau

We’ve seen plenty of cocktails in our time, but no place does it quite like this year’s Most Creative Cocktail Bar, Quinary. With Diageo World Class 2015 Hong Kong & Macau Champion Antonio Lai leading the ranks, the bar approaches their concoctions with food-science in mind, engaging all five senses with flavour, aroma, texture, appearance, and even sound. With creations like an Earl Grey Caviar Martini, who can dispute that?

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. The Old Man
3. The Woods
4. J. Boroski
5. COA
6. Zuma
7. Fang Fang
8. Stockton
9. VEA
10. Aqua

Best New Bar: The Old Man

Presented by Campari

It’s been a tight match, this year, but the Best New Bar award goes to The Old Man, the intimate eclectic speakeasy in SoHo where celebrated Indonesian bartender Agung Prabowo whips up bespoke cocktails inspired by Ernest Hemingway and the Cuba of the 50s.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. COA
3. Please Don’t Tell (The Landmark Mandarin Oriental)
4. Blue Supreme
5. Murray Lane Bar (The Murray)
6. Dear Lilly
7. Meats
8. Bobby’s Rabbles (Wyndham Street)
9. The Madhouse
10. Los Sotano

Bartender of the Year, Macau: Nikita Matveev of Vida Rica, Mandarin Oriental

Presented by Hendrick’s

Russian mixologist Nikita Matveev, who joined Mandarin Oriental Macau as its first resident mixologist, is Macau’s ‘Bartender of the Year’. Since helping transform Vida Rica into a speakeasy format, he’s been making waves with revamped cocktail classics and signatures like The Ruins of St. Paul (gin-based with chamomile tea, lychee juice, and sesame-cinnamon syrup) and his Diageo World Class Competition 2017 creation, Papita Sarbat (Singleton 12 years, rhubarb bitters, papaya, lime juice, and honey).

Other nominees who made the Top 4 list:

2. Koco Widyatno (The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge)
3. Bruno Santos (Antica Trattoria)
4. Maxim Schulte (The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge)

Bartender of the Year, Hong Kong: Jay Khan of COA

Presented by Johnnie Walker

Jay Khan has some serious pedigree behind him, having spent over a decade at acclaimed spots like Melbourne’s The Emerald Peacock and in Hong Kong – Lily & Bloom, 1920s-inspired speakeasy Foxglove, and gin bar Dr. Fern’s. Jay, who’s also the brand ambassador for Remy Cointreau, was once nominated for the award in 2016, and  is now Hong Kong’s ‘Bartender of the Year’!

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. Agung Prabowo – The Old Man
3. Devender Kumar – 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
4. John Nugent – Lily & Bloom
5. Owen Gibler – Employees Only
6. Tom Egerton – Potato Head
7. Samuel Kwok – Quinary
8. Gagan Gurung – Fang Fang
9. Simone Rossi – Aqua
10. Nick Tse – Bar Buonasera

Bar of the Year, Macau: The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge

Presented by Mumm Champagne

Is it really a surprise that Macau’s Bar of the Year goes to The Ritz-Carlton? Fusing plush seating, abstract art, and live DJ sets in the evenings with an impressive cocktail programme (including a pick-and-mix gin and tonic menu), this bar presents drinking in the most tasteful of ways – particularly with exotic flowers, spices, and fruits.

Other nominees who made the Top 4 list:

1. Vida Rica (Mandarin Oriental)
2. SW Steakhouse (Wynns Palace)
3. Old Taipa Tavern

Bar of the Year, Hong Kong: Quinary

Presented by Mekhong, The Spirit of Thailand

And there you have it. Quinary wins its second Bar Awards 2018 title with Hong Kong’s ‘Bar of the Year’. More than just crazy creative drinks, the bar has it all, from a spectacular team and service to kickass space. Forget all your preconceptions about cocktails and make your way here with an open mind, because when we say there’s no bar quite like this, we mean it.

Other nominees who made the Top 10 list:

2. The Old Man
3. Stockton
4. Employees Only
5. COA
6. Zuma
7. Bar Butler
8. Please Don’t Tell (The Landmark Mandarin Oriental)
9. Aqua
10. Yardbird

The Bar Awards might soon be coming to a city near you! Stay tuned here.

Deputy Editor

Gary is one of those proverbial jack of all trades… you know the rest. When not writing about lifestyle and culture, he dabbles in photography, graphic design, plays four instruments and is a professional wearer of bowties. His greatest weakness: spending more money on clothes than he probably should. Find him across the social world as @grimlay