By Jonathan Evans
Evening entertainment in Macau has been dominated in recent decades by casinos and large-scale shows such as The House of Dancing Water. But while the SAR has always flaunted luxurious hotels with glamorous bars, they’ve largely been of the traditional kind. It’s only in recent years that the drink scene has branched out beyond these familiar confines to offer more fashionable venues to spend a boozy evening. Now, rooftop bars are arriving in the city and bringing a new dimension to the city’s nightlife.
SKY 21 Bar & Restaurant is a buzzing nightspot whose position at the top of AIA Tower (21 refers to the floor it occupies) dazzles guests with imperious views – taking in the Macau Tower, Taipa Bridge and Nam Van Lake. Patrons will be greeted by DJs, live jazz, theme nights such as Japanese soirées and glam-industrial, East-meets-West décor. Even higher up, 38 Lounge at the Altira Hotel in Taipa – split between a cosy indoor musical-performance space and an outdoor terrace – emphasises style and luxury, with vivid furnishings and creative cocktail list. The crafted beverages from the “38 Special” menu fashion new tastes from familiar ingredients: try the Rum Daisy, which mixes rum, Curaçao and pineapple, or for a full-tilt assault on the brain cells, a Poison No. 9 with vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whisky, cognac, triple sec and peach schnapps.
Photography: Sky 21
If design is your yardstick, there’s no match for the Vida Rica Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, where show-stopping contemporary fittings meet sumptuous furnishings in a glorious fusion of chrome, marble and crystal. While the views over the waterfront are among the finest in town, the three-bar set-up – for cocktails, champagne and tapas, and coffee and pastries – is equally enticing. Contrasting with the Vida Rica’s stately interior, the playful cocktail list gets frisky with the classics (witness the Winehouse Negroni, which comes with Merlot) and pays homage to its hometown with signature drinks inspired by Macau. The Ruins of St Paul blends gin, camomile tea, lemongrass, lychee juice and syrup, while the Millionaire’s Mojito is a suitably opulent mixture of rum, champagne, muscovado and lime.
Photography: Mandarin Oriental Macau
For an intimate experience, Pousada de Sao Tiago serves cocktails and wine at its design-driven boutique hotel built within a 17th-century Portuguese fortress. Regarded as the only historic hotel in town, this hideaway on the western tip of peninsular Macau is ideal for lovers of authentic experiences and tranquility, and the outdoor terrace comeswith fine views over the Pearl River Delta. Tapas de Portugal, in Taipa village, serves classic cocktails and Portuguese wine on its discreet second-floor terrace.
But the big news is the placing of The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge in the most recent edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, marking both the first time either a Macau bar or a Ritz-Carlton hotel bar has made the prestigious list. The 51st-storey bar, a gin specialist, has been a favourite haunt for night owls with its spectacular views and sophisticated ambience since opening in 2015, but what really sets it apart is its taste for innovation. Drinkers can choose their ingredients from a trolley of gins, tonics, flowers, fruits and spices; it has collaborated with Singapore’s hyper-fashionable izakaya bar Neon Pigeon for a cocktail-pairing dinner; mixed original drinks using rare ingredients (Negroni Nebbioso, Nordic Martini); and brought in mixologists from London, Singapore and Hong Kong to create unique cocktails.
Photography: The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge
Not that the Bar & Lounge’s own bartenders lack pedigree; in March, Maxim Schulte fended off the challenge of mixologists from 31 countries to win the Beefeater MIXLDN 7, the world’s biggest gin-based cocktail competition. His winning cocktail was Stack of Fortune – inspired by Macau’s reputation as the Las Vegas of Asia – which blends gin, fresh lime, white Crème de Cacao, orange bitters and fresh mint. The drinks scene in Macau might not be as established as those of neighbouring territories, but with recognition such as this, its future looks to be in safe hands.
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