Seek out directions to Stockton from the company website and what you’ll get is a rather obscure guide: ‘Down a dark alleyway, look for the lightbulb.’ Mystery is a fitting introduction to one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated speakeasies, a hidden drinking den that rewards those with a curious spirit and a thirst for adventure.
If you’ve managed to locate the entrance, climb a flight of stairs and step through the dimly lit bar straight into early 20th-century London. A time when alcohol and opulence both flowed unrestrained, the turn of the century was the peak of proper British elegance, when oysters and caviar adorned tables and Champagne and fine whiskies were imbibed with reckless abandon.
Stockton shines a spotlight on this bygone era, with a charming space filled with antiques and art, sourced from the flea markets of Paris, hidden away in nooks and crannies. Like a museum preserved from the turn of the century, Stockton reveals itself slowly to explorers, with hidden passageways leading to private rooms, cabinets that open to reveal an assortment of knick-knacks and cryptic menus that contain secret references to the origins of the bar. Flip through the leather-bound book and there’s more room for guessing and riddles: each drink comes with its own fabled backstory.
Of course, it’s not just smoke and mirrors. Stockton knows its drinks well, with a collection of 150 whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, America and Japan, and spirits that are barrel- and leather-aged in-house. The head mixologist is Suraj Gurung, a passionate rum lover from Nepal who’s helped propel Stockton to number eight on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2017.
With an impressive selection of rum- and whisky-based cocktails leading the way, you’ll want to dive in with the strong and spirited Bat Country: a combination of Irish whisky and Gosling’s Rum mixed with blackcurrant, pistachio and cardamom. Sweet, woodsy and spicy at once, the drink is an excellent way to prep your palate. Follow this with the Tender Addict: a layered concoction made with gin, coffee infusion, Islay whisky, citrus fruits and egg white.
Scour the selection of rare whiskies, boutique rums and vintage Champagnes for more knockouts. For example, the Macabre draws from the dark mind of Edgar Allan Poe with absinthe, tonka beans and beeswax, while the Forty-Four is an upgrade to the piña colada with two varieties of rum, fino sherry, coconut oil, lactart and marshmallow served in a glass fish. If hunger strikes, fear not: ambitious restaurant food comes in the form of Scotch eggs drizzled in paprika aioli, beer-battered rock cod with a curried tartare sauce, and a buttermilk fried chicken burger slathered in a zesty jalapeno yoghurt.
If you think all this sounds a bit too indulgent, well, that’s exactly the point. Reviving the opulence of old London social clubs, Stockton is a turn-of-the-century trick, offering its patrons license to splurge and nailing the ‘members-only’ vibe without the stuffiness or pretension. A gathering spot for historians, artists, literary types and, most importantly, spirit and cocktail connoisseurs, this cosy drinking den is stocked with secrets and serendipitous encounters at every turn. Seek it out, and you’ll be surprised at what you find.