The vibe: Circo is primarily a gay bar, although the only overt sign of that is a screen in one corner showing images of young men with sculpted bodies (think designer underwear ads rather than erotica). The space is compact, with couch seating by the windows overlooking the city and stools around the central bar. There is a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights and you can dance ’til 5am. However, while it may be packed on weekends, between 7pm and 10pm on a weeknight it wasn’t so much quiet as dead. Not being at street level doesn’t help with walk-in business and Circo’s vistas don’t compare to the harbour views from many other bars. My companion, wise in the ways of gay bars, commented that if you’re targeting the LGBT community, word of mouth and having the owners on site (they weren’t around) is key to keeping the place busy.
The drinks: the bar’s craft cocktails fall into two categories: sweet and spicy. From Circo with Love (HK$108, passion fruit and elderflower liqueurs topped up with prosecco) was nicely balanced and lifted by the passion fruit. Adam’s Apple (HK$138, Earl Grey infused gin, fresh apple juice, cinnamon syrup) was on the bland side.
There was nothing bland about the Soi 2 Martini (HK$108, Belvedere vodka infused with basil and lemon grass, chilli liqueur, lime juice and kaffir lime leaves), a zingy, spicy alcoholic version of tom yum soup served straight up.
We also tried a couple of standard cocktails (HK$68). The margarita was well made, if not outstanding, and while the sea breeze would have been better with fresh grapefruit juice, these were good value at the price.
The verdict: one for the list if you want to dance into the wee hours on weekends or have a quiet drink on a weeknight, but Circo needs to build a strong customer base if it’s going to compete with the area’s many other options.
Circo, 22/F, Oliv, 15 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, tel: 2892 8808
Open: 6pm-2am (Friday and Saturday until 5am). Happy hour: 6pm-8.30pm