Review

The Old Man

Excellent themed bar in SoHo with great vibes and affordable drinks.

Words Iris Wong  Cocktail photo Samantha Sin

The Space

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 award-winning 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 three-day 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.

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.

Spending: $90 per cocktail
Highlights: Green Hills of Africa
What else: if you prefer sticking to your usual drinks, the bartenders are also happy to shake up some classic cocktails for you


The Old Man
Lower G/F 37 Aberdeen Street, Central
Tel: 2703 1899

 

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