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Bar review: J. Boroski in Central – Hong Kong’s bespoke cocktail bar

The vibe: a collaboration between Dining Concepts and two star names of the international bar scene, mixologist Joseph Boroski and designer Ashley Sutton, J.Boroski offers a unique bespoke cocktail experience. You cannot just walk in off the street – you need to ask for an invitation, i.e. make a booking, by phone or email. The snug interior is an oasis of discreet luxury in soft brown and copper shades, with comfortable seating at the bar as well as tables and more private booths. A cellar-like arched ceiling quirkily decorated with rows of steel scarabs adds a stylish note.

The drinks: there’s no drinks list, although they do have a list of premium spirits (this is not the place for beer or wine). The idea is to offer a truly tailor-made experience, which starts with your bartender asking what flavours you like and whether you prefer a drink which is spirit-driven (strong) or based on fresh ingredients (fruits and herbs). The invitation-only concept sounds like a gimmick but serves a real purpose – to help ensure that the bartenders can devote enough time to creating something special for each customer.

After getting our preferences, the bartender produced four original (and nameless) creations for us. On the spirit-driven front, we loved the Negroni-inspired Don Amado reposado mezcal (HK$180). Cleverly combined with Aperol and Chinato (instead of the usual Campari and sweet vermouth), it was beautifully balanced and delicately smoky with a long aftertaste. The Caorunn Scottish gin with blackberry, fresh basil and white vermouth was pleasantly dry, although the basil didn’t marry well with the gin.

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On the fresh side, the concoction of fresh raspberries muddled with Fair Quinoa vodka (HK$100) and lime juice was just what we’d asked for – elegant, refreshing and not too sweet.

El Dorado 3-year-old rum (HK$100) with fresh cherries and lime was a little bland although the subtle cherry taste was nice.

While the idea is for the bartenders to create a new drink for you every time, if you particularly like what you’ve had before they will repeat it and will also make classic drinks if you ask for them.

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Drinks are served in simple, retro glasses with minimal decoration – the emphasis is on what’s in the glass, not how it looks. Prices are based on the primary liquor and are extremely reasonable for such high quality bespoke drinks. However, we were sitting at the bar and if you want to book a table there’s a minimum spend of HK$1,200, steep for a place that doesn’t serve food.

The verdict: a real gem for anyone who appreciates top-notch mixology and premium spirits, knows what they like and is ready to experiment.

J.Boroski 1 Hollywood Road, Central (entrance on Ezra Lane), tel: 2603 6020, hk@jboroski.com. Open: 7pm until late.