Lan Kwai Fong’s Dead & breathes fresh air into the dated dive bar concept with blissfully simplistic aesthetics and warm, genuine hospitality.
You can be forgiven for not having ventured through Lan Kwai Fong recently. Government restrictions on bars and the general malaise Hong Kong is navigating have sucked much of the life out of the iconic nightlife precinct. However, there’s a new reason why you should wander down Wo On Lane next time you’ve built up a thirst, and that’s Dead &.
A new concept by bar legends Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale, they of The Old Man fame, and sister to the recently opened Penicillin bar on Hollywood Road, Dead & is the antithesis of its sibling, embracing simplicity over innovation, and placing hospitality ahead of lofty ambition.
Instead, this neo-dive bar concept is all about affordability and vibe. Wedged against an ancient stone wall at the end of the narrow lane, the bar looks almost semi-permanent thanks to the efforts of Collective by Betty Ng, who created naked concrete counters (one of which serves as a DJ console) and soaring ceilings that can be closed off by roller doors.
The effect is alfresco finesse, with punters able to soak up the street atmosphere over craft beers (some of which are served via vending machine) and surprisingly imaginative cocktails given the price point. It’s a winning combination that’s already made Dead& the ALPHA MEN ASIA team’s favourite local.
Not only are they wallet-friendly, but Dead &’s drinks are big on nostalgia-inducing flavours; ‘”Serious” cocktails range from the signature Dead & Garibaldi, with Campari and a super fluffy blended orange juice, to the 5 O’Clock Martini, served straight up with a lemon twist. With cocktails priced at HK$50 (US$6.45), patrons can choose to upgrade their chosen libation with premium spirits for just HK$20 (US$2.60).
For future days, when you can enjoy a drink or two with more wingmen, the “Old School” pitchers ran the gamut from White Sangria to a Traditional Pimm’s Cup while heat-killing “Crushable Slushies” include the Erin Rose Irish Coffee and a Pandan Colada.
We decided to go as simple as possible during our first visit, with Young Master IPA’s bombed with shots of bourbon and matched with enough peanuts to make a dent in Indonesia’s trade deficit.
Given current restrictions, you’ll want to add a bite or two to your drink order. Fortunately, the likes of the Dead& signature Dead Dog, a grilled hot dog on a buttered bun with ground beef chilli sauce; Beyond Burger, and wing and fries offer the perfect pairing. Many of the snacks can come in combos with drink orders. Indonesian peanuts, the staple of any good dive bar, come gratis.
The dogs, which we ordered double rounds of, were perfectly cooked and packed a sweet-heat punch that kept the seasonal chill at bay. Dive bars are supposed to be mellow places where the drinks and the conversation flow and my mate and I sat for hours in the street, perched at an old barrel, the ground around us littered with peanut shells. For me, that’s the sign of a great bar.
With its location at the “dead end” of Wo On Lane, and the potential for the revelry to extend into the adjacent amphitheater, Dead & has the conceptual legs to last the distance in Hong Kong’s fickle cocktail bar scene and has the laid back persona that we can all appreciate after the turbulence of 2020.
Note: The author visits the bar as a paid patron without the venue’s prior knowledge.
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A Dive Bar For Today
Lan Kwai Fong's Dead & breathes fresh air into the dated dive bar concept with blissfully simplistic aesthetics and warm, genuine hospitality.