Six of the best: Hong Kong speakeasy hidden bars

THE OLD MAN

In less experienced hands, The Old Man would be just another yawn-inducing addition to the long list of bars dedicated to writer Ernest Hemingway. However, the man behind this upscale establishment is Agung Prabowo, who previously managed the highly-regarded bar at the Mandarin Oriental. The menu features seven cocktails named after Hemingway books (Death in the Afternoon anyone?) plus a selection of the writer's personal favourites, which includes the surprisingly feminine White Lady (a mixture of gin, Cointreau and lemon juice). Look for the unmarked flight of stairs leading down from Aberdeen Street in Central. See theoldmanhk.com

THE IRON FAIRIES

Is there anything Ashley Sutton can't do? After using his experience in a WA iron ore mine to write a successful series of children's books, this talented Aussie has turned his attention to bar design. This is his third Iron Fairies outpost (the others are in Tokyo and Bangkok). Themed around an iron foundry, the bar is a visually stunning space full of industrial machinery and candlelit chandeliers. Most arresting are 10,000 dead butterflies artfully suspended from the ceiling. The drinks are similarly theatrical – cocktails arrive in smoke-filled bottles and come garnished with dried octopus. See diningconcepts.com

MRS POUND

Nowadays, it's not enough for a speakeasy just to have a devilishly disguised entrance; it also needs a fantastically fictitious backstory. In this case our heroine, Mrs Pound, was a 1950s burlesque dancer from Shanghai who fell in love with a wealthy married Hong Kong businessman. He gave her his favourite stamp shop, which she transformed into a clandestine meeting place. Find the hidden switch on the storefront on Pound Lane and you'll gain access to their secret boudoir – an intimate bar with pink leather banquettes and mirrored lights that serves innovative Asian-inspired food and drinks. See mrspound.com

FOXGLOVE

The team behind Mrs Pound have upped the ante with their latest venue, Foxglove. Access this time is via a boutique umbrella shop on Duddell Street and the fictitious character is a globetrotting English adventurer. Find the right umbrella and you'll unlock his secret drinking den – an elegant low-ceilinged space that resembles the first class cabin of a 1950s aircraft (think deep blue leather seats and a marble topped bar). Additional rooms mimic the dining car of a luxury train and there are even portholes in the toilets. An unexpected bonus is live music most nights after 10pm. See foxglovehk.com

J. BOROSKI

Located in a secret laneway in Central, this invitation-only cocktail bar is the latest outpost by self-proclaimed "mixsultant" Joseph Boroski. Invitations are requested by email and come with a set of detailed directions. All of which sounds eye-rollingly pretentious but the rationale is to control the flow of guests so the bartenders can provide a truly bespoke experience. There's no menu – you just tell them what you like (sweet/sour/smokey/floral) and they'll conjure up something appropriate. Throw in a striking interior by the ubiquitous Ashley Sutton and you've got a venue for true cocktail connoisseurs. Email hk@jboroski.com; see diningconcepts.com

DR FERN'S GIN PARLOUR

Suffering from a stress-related ailment? Don't worry, botanicals expert Dr Fern will soon have you back on your feet with one of his gin-based treatments. But first you'll need to find his surgery near the MTR entrance in The Landmark building (hint: there are two marked doors but only one leads to the bar). Once inside you'll discover a vintage apothecary with more than 250 gins. Sound familiar? It's another concoction by the team behind Mrs Pound and Foxglove. Thankfully, it's similarly well-executed with superlative service and top-notch drinks. Providing you like gin, of course. See drfernshk.com

Rob McFarland was a guest of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. See discoverhongkong.com/au 

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