wine, dine, fine
Regular guests of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts will doubtless identify with that waft of familiarity the moment they step into any of its properties. Essence of Shangri-La, a ginger-and-bergamot infusion, is the first intimation of something extraordinary befitting the mythical place described in James Hilton’s Lost Horizon.
The 26-year-old Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong’s Lobster Bar and Grill has attained the same sense of belonging, becoming a firm favourite of the city’s cosmopolitan set. A classical mahogany bar and fabric upholstery sets the ambience for relaxation, as does the floor-to-ceiling windows that mute the urban jungle beyond. On the shelves, the connoisseur’s eye is quickly drawn to the stellar line-up of Armagnac, Hennessy Paradis and Louis XIII de Remy Martin, as well as the curious limited-edition Lobster Gin.
Inside the bar, your auditory senses are becalmed by strains of Gershwin and – as the day turns moodily into dusk – live evening jazz (from Mondays to Saturdays). The bar’s exciting roster of artists includes gems such as Danielle Chupak, a chanteuse in the making whose voice alternates from husky to kinetic in a blink.
Head bartender Balazs Molnar helms this bar, which comfortably makes the top 50 in a listing of best bars around the world; it placed 27 in last year’s list. Molnar curates an enviable menu of aged single-cask Samaroli Guyana Demerara rums from 1990, Glenlivet single-malts produced from the time of Nixon and Carter, small-batch vintage cognacs, apple brandies and should you prefer, a 1961 Chateau Palmer 3eme Grand cru classe (HK$18,000, RM9,895 a bottle). “In here and at every great bar, it is the people, ultimately, that make the difference," Molnar quips as he crafts his signature Quetzal, a heady and refreshing cocktail comprising aged Botran rum, bitters, yuzu and the intense Pedro Ximenez sherry, all topped up with apple cider and apple celery foam.