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The Old Man

Hong Kong's Best New Bar; Genuine, Experimental and Unpretentious With An Impressive Interior

January, 2018
The Old Man, Bar, Hong Kong © Mitch Lui for Champ Travel

Down an unassuming, dimly lit alleyway lies one of Hong Kong’s most exceptional new additions to the areas bar scene. Perhaps scene isn’t the right word here, as it’s clear to see that The Old Man is well on its way to become one of the area’s key staples for experimental approach to innovative cocktails, a genuine and unpretentious atmosphere, and impressive interior.

As we step inside the bar, we are instantly welcomed by co-owner Roman Ghale, whose infectious energy and authentic persona sets the tone for an anticipated evening. Inside, all three co-owners of The Old Man can be usually found tending to guests, preparing drinks and providing the electric atmosphere. After deciding to open a bar together after extended experience in the industry, owners James Tamang, Roman Ghale and Agung Prabowo named their first entry after Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 novel of the same name (The Old Man and The Sea).

The Old Man’s head mixologist Agung Prabowo introduces an innovative approach to each of his cocktails, unafraid of mixing textures, flavours and creating the unexpected. Each named after Hemingway novels, find A Farewell To Arms (butter fat-washed gin, dry vermouth sous-vide nori and salted pernod, served with onion pearl and nori dust) to The Snows of Kilimanjaro (marshmallow gin, lacto-fermented raspberry, citrus, and gruyère), or Death In The Afternoon (absinthe, sparkling wine, coco-pandan yogurt, froth, and nutmeg). It’s completely progressive and impressive, challenging palettes that are too-often provided with common flavours.

Even in the elongated and narrow space, The Old Man feels spacious and comfortable, with a constant movement and lively energy continuously moving throughout the whole space. After consulting with a Feng Shui master on the space, some alterations were made to the design and new elements added to ensure success; wood, copper and iron, with all three elements found inside in the interior design.

The wooden walls, tiled flooring and wooden bar with a copper cooling strip for drinks (ingenious!), to ensure your glass is continuously chilled. The macaroon-inspired stools (coloured in soft pink, dark mint) provide a bit of sophisticated playfulness, alongside the equally luxe velvet curved back area shell seating. The Old Man’s transparent and open interior intends to provide a more intimate and private feel, almost as if you were in your own stylish home.

The design distils are built on the small stories and backgrounds of each of the owners, reflected in the hand built aspect of the business. The running thread in their crafted interiors is based on the owners’ own identity and heritage from Nepal, Indonesia and the Caribbean. From key details of the pineapple shaped lamps or the pineapple motif on wall, inspired from Nepal where if you are visiting someone’s home as a guest, it is polite to present a pineapple as a gift.

The back bar showcases a large collage artwork that was initially intended to be a painting, however in the process of building the bar, had accumulated scraps of each material interior which they ingeniously used to create an abstract portraiture of Hemingway. Looking down on the bar preparation area, it is almost like a laboratory with intriguing, experimental tools for their cocktails.

It’s the details here that make all the difference; from the genuine staff and owners, to the progressive and innovative cocktails introduced, that ensure you will certainly not find any place like it.

The Old Man, interior © Mitch Lui for Champ Travel
'A Farewell To Arm' cocktail, at The Old Man © Mitch Lui for Champ Travel
The Old Man, Hong Kong © Mitch Lui for Champ Travel
'Papa Doble' cocktail, at The Old Man © Mitch Lui for Champ Travel
'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' cocktail, at The Old Man © Mitch Lui
The Old Man, Hong Kong © Mitch Lui
Co-owner and Head Mixologist Agung Prabowo © Mitch Lui

The Old Man 
Lower G/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street,
Soho, Central, Hong Kong

Co-owner Agung Prabowo at his bar, The Old Man in Central, Hong Kong © Mitch Lui for Champ Travel
January, 2018