Thursday, 25 August 2016

Bar Review #21: J.Boroski Hong Kong

A month or so ago, a mate tagged me in a Facebook post highlighting a new cocktail bar in Hong Kong opening soon, called J.Boroski. Not being familiar with it, I did a little Googling which promptly turned up exactly one result, with no details whatsoever.

A little more Googling told me it was the HK outpost of a popular Bangkok bar by the same name, with both interiors designed by Aussie Ashley Sutton (of Iron Fairies Bangkok and Ophelia Hong Kong fame). Despite only opening a few years ago, the cocktails at the Bangkok bar were said to be world class, so obviously we were keen to see how the HK version stacked up.

So a few weeks ago I reached out to Joseph (the "J" in "J.Boroski") and made a reservation for Steph and I for a Saturday night. Finding the place was a challenge at first (the directions were something like "go down a little laneway, look for the graffiti, go down the hallway, through the door at the end, turn right" but we managed, and after confirming details with the host, were taken to our bar seats.

The first thing that strikes you is just how simultaneously exquisite and refined the space is. It's unique (how many other bars have their walls/ceiling adorned with life-size Rhino beetle tiles!?), but it works brilliantly when coupled with the warm wooden furnishings and comfortable suede chairs.

The other thing that struck us was how quiet it was. We arrived at 8:30pm on a Saturday and had the entire place to ourselves (literally) for almost 2 hours. Of course, I should mention that at that point, the bar hadn't even been in "soft opening" mode for a week, and still wasn't officially open. I returned a few weeks later on a Monday, and as expected it was much busier, with the bar seats all full by 10pm.

J.Boroski HK operates on an "invitation only" basis and whilst that might initially seem a bit wanky, it's purely to ensure there's space for guests so everyone can be looked after. It's a small, intimate space, and they want to ensure every customer gets the appropriate amount of attention. Invitations can be requested by e-mailing

One look at the backbar (an eclectic mix of American and Scottish whiskies, gins, rums, tequilas, Mezcals, and more infusions and home-made syrups than you can imagine) and you could tell this was a serious cocktail bar. You might reasonably expect they'd have a pretty incredible cocktail menu too, but you'd be wrong! The bar eschews menus in favour of the bartenders discussing flavours / preferences with customers, and creating a drink to suit.

We love bars that back themselves enough to "throw away" the menu, and it's done brilliantly at J.Boroski HK.

Feeling in the mood for something similar to a Negroni to kick things off, our bartender Nathan Tse (previously of Bitters & Sweets) suggested a variation made using a Thai gin. Slightly smoky, bitter and perfectly balanced, it hit the mark wonderfully - a theme that continued with every drink we tried.

On a later visit our group requested a mix of "Classics with twists" and "Classics" - from a smoked Manhattan-style drink with coffee-infused Bourbon, to a crisp, sharp classic daiquiri, every single drink was spot on. The team here might be new, but they're already matching the best Hong Kong has to offer.

Drink prices are on par with any other high-end cocktail bar in HK (expect cocktails to be around $150HKD, depending on base spirit) and considering the thought and effort that goes into each (not to mention the fantastic end result), and the personalised service, it's a fair proposition.

If you're a fan of cocktails, we highly recommend making a booking and getting yourself down to J.Boroski sooner rather than later. You won't be disappointed, and you'll probably be blown away.


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