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Bar review: Mirage Bar, Wan Chai – more airport drinking spot than luxury lounge

The vibe: in the revamped lobby lounge of the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, Mirage features a new bar set in a 7.6 metre high island as its centrepiece. There’s a mix of seating with tables and chairs if you’re having a meal, and low sofas and armchairs (so low they’re hard to get up from) if you’re there for a drink.

Located next to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (fondly known to locals as The Cockroach for its architecture), the hotel caters primarily to business travellers and was packed on a Tuesday evening. Not having booked ahead, we were taken to a table at the back with a less than spectacular view of the new MTR construction site (Mirage is supposed to have a harbour view, but much of it is blocked by the Grand Hyatt next door). Service was quick and efficient, although the staff looked tired and harassed.

The drinks: there’s a heavy emphasis on sweetness in the cocktails (bizarrely, “sweet” is actually listed as an ingredient, for instance in the place of Triple Sec or Cointreau in a Margarita – most odd) and the contrast between the extensive range of whiskies and limited choices of other spirits suggests a liquor list designed with the hotel’s many mainland visitors in mind.

We tried three of the signature cocktails, all reasonably priced at HK$98. The best was I’m Hallucinated (rum, fermented honey, spice, citrus and passion fruit), which was nicely balanced and complex, with an intriguing delicate aftertaste from the honey. Lost in Translation (bacon-fat washed bourbon, citrus, sweet and foam) had so much citrus that you could hardly taste the bourbon. Feeling Like Surfing (gin, calamansi and house-made basil lemonade) was an alarming emerald green and tasted so overwhelmingly of aniseed that we wondered if they’d used ouzo instead of gin.

The verdict: given the location and clientele, perhaps it’s understandable that Mirage feels more like a busy airport bar than a laid-back luxury lounge. It’s a convenient meeting place if you’re doing business, but Hong Kong has hotel bars with better views, drinks and atmosphere if you want to have fun.

1/F Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. Tel: 2802 8888

Open: from breakfast until late

While you’re in the area …

Bar review: Thaiwan in Wan Chai – Thai and Taiwanese-themed drinks and tapas

Bar review: Ophelia in Wan Chai – heavy on the concept, light on the flavours

Bar review: Deligator, Wan Chai – a slice of Havana in Hong Kong