Hong Kong’s already vibrant and versatile bar scene keeps receiving additions that would be right at home in any large global hub. In the Central business district, chock-full of banks, the design-aware and quality-conscious financial wizards now have yet another bar/club where they can spend all those gazillions.
The whiskey bar foxglove, at the Printing House on Duddell Street, is the second bar opened by the Ming Fat House owner team of Jonathan Bui (a Canadian), Eric Lam (an American) and Shakib Pasha (from Hong Kong.)
To provide an environment worthy of their demanding prospective patrons, they invited local architect Nelson Chow Chi-Wai, principal and founder of NC Design & Architecture, to iterate the story of a wealthy adventurer, Frank Minza who, as the owners coyly say, may or may not be a fictional character. To thicken the plot they add that he was the illegitimate son of a somewhat luckless entrepreneur from Hong Kong’s colonial days.
So there is a touch of high-end shadiness and secrecy in foxglove that really is a lovely hybrid: A masculine combo of an ocean liner, airplane, gentlemen’s club and speakeasy.
The entrance isn’t just a plain old door, in fact there is no bar entrance visible. Instead, you walk into an umbrella shop where exquisite specimens of luxury brollies are displayed in custom-design glass cabinets. Find the right silver handle, touch it, and a secret door opens to the ‘air plane’ that seats 80. A marble-topped cocktail bar connects to the dining section.
A VIP room seats 32 guests and resembles a first-class dining car of a luxury train and the VVIP room brings you to an intimate gentleman’s library where time seems to have stopped and money is still made of paper.
The owner’s first Hong Kong bar, Mrs. Pound, opened a year ago in Sheung Wan. It tested the secret speakeasy entrance concept by offering a Chinese stamp shop as the entry environment. In that case, the story tells that Mrs.
Pound was a burlesque dancer who fell in love with a Chinese stamp shop owner. In an interview, Jonathan Bui was quoted as saying that the hidden entrance and secrecy work especially well in Hong Kong because ‘it is so different from the typical in-your-face shopfronts.’ – Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Dennis Lo Designs