Recapturing the Past

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Hong Kong speakeasy DarkSide delves into the past to create new takes on forgotten classic cocktails with its new reopening menu.

As the world emerges into the light of the post-pandemic world, some of the city’s top watering holes are dusting themselves off and innovating once again. A case in point is Darkside, the lavish speakeasy located at Rosewood Hong Kong. Under the direction of Director of Bars Arkadiuz Rybak and Beverage Manager Simone Rossi, the Darkside team has created the new Modern Forgotten Classic Menu of delectable libations.

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The sultry jazz and cocktail parlour, which was recently ranked #13 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 list, introduces a new menu inspired by retro cocktails of the last century, each of which has been given an elevated and whimsical twist.   

Hong Kong speakeasy DarkSide delves into the past to create new takes on forgotten classic cocktails with its new reopening menu.

The menu includes the Jungle Bird, a Tiki-style cocktail created by Jeffrey Ong in 1978 for the opening of the Kuala Lumpur Hilton’s Aviary Bar – hence the name. DarkSide has re-created the classic with Plantation 5-year-old rum, bitter Campari, and freshly squeezed pineapple and lime, serves in an Alto highball glass over a block of ice, and garnished with a maraschino cherry and banana leaf.

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The exact origin of the Side Car is unclear, but it is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris and was named after the motorcycle passenger conveyance. The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims the origin of the drink and the first recipe for the cocktail appears in a book by Harry MacElhone in 1922. At DarkSide, patrons can expect a shaken drink of Rémy Martin VSOP, lemon and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao that is first poured into a beautifully tailor-made ceramic side car crafted by Hong Kong local artisan Tung Yao Ceramic and then poured at the table into an elegant cut signature coupette glass. The cocktail doesn’t contain any sugar as per the original recipe but is balanced by the tangy sweetness of lemon sherbet, making it approachable for all palates. 

Hong Kong speakeasy DarkSide delves into the past to create new takes on forgotten classic cocktails with its new reopening menu.

The Bramble was created in London in 1980 by Dick Brasell, who worked at the Soho bar Fred’s Club. His childhood memories of going blackberrying on the Isle of Wight provided the inspiration for a refreshing shaken blend of citrusy lemon, Star of Bombay gin and Crème de Mure, with a whole blackberry garnish and an elegant sprinkling of blackberry dust on top.

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Also lookout for the Chicago Fizz, which was first served at the city’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in the years leading up to Prohibition. Since then, it has fallen into obscurity. However, it’s well due a revival, given the sophisticated and satisfying pairing of dark rum and ruby port. DarkSide uses Plantation dark original rum, Graham’s ruby port, lemon, creamy UHT egg white and a garnish of nutmeg dust that provides an extra layer of spiciness.

For more Wining & Dining inspiration click here.

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