A Farewell to Armagnac: The Old Man’s new Hemingway-themed sister bar offers ‘lightly alcoholic’ cocktails

The inside of The Sea, the new sister bar of Hemingway-themed bar The Old Man. Photo via Forks and Spoons.

When Agung Prabowo, James Tamang, and Roman Ghale opened their Ernest Hemingway-themed house of mixology The Old Man in 2017, it was only a matter of time until the other shoe — or in this case, other half of the title — dropped.

Now the gang is back to prove their high-end, meticulous approach to cocktails is indeed a moveable feast with a new sister bar that recently opened its doors in Sheung Wan: The Sea.

The Old Man, in Central, quickly catapulted itself onto the scene, landing on the 2018 “Asia’s 50 Best Bars” list (at fifth place), and the “World’s Best 50 Bars” list (at 10th place). Prabowo, meanwhile, was named Asia’s bartender of the year at last year’s Drink Magazine Bar Awards. The Old Man also quickly became one of our favorite hidden bars in the city (even if the check at the end of the night occasionally left you wondering for whom the bill tolls).

The Sea promises to be a bit more rustic than its forebear, though its rich mahogany interiors take more inspiration from Hemingway’s 38-foot boat, the Pilar, than from the aging Cuban fisherman’s threadbare skiff in the bar’s namesake 1952 novella.

The inside of The Sea, the new sister bar of Hemmingway-themed bar The Old Man. Photo via Forks and Spoons.
The inside of The Sea, the new sister bar of Hemingway-themed bar The Old Man. Photo via The Sea.

Hemingway first acquired the boat in 1934 and his time at sea on Pilar served as the inspiration for a number of works, including The Old Man and The Sea.

While The Old Man has a number of Hemingway-inspired cocktails like the Daiquiri variation that Hemingway famously enjoyed (a lot of) in Havana, The Sea’s cocktails are inspired by, you guessed it, the sea, with a focus on mineral-forward flavors derived from natural elements like rock, salt water, peat, and soil.

According to the bar’s owners, these cocktails are ostensibly healthier given that they are “lightly alcoholic,” and contain no added sugar. (We’re fairly certain Hemingway is spinning in his grave at the prospect of a “lightly alcoholic” cocktail being served in his name, but hey, we’ll reserve judgment for the time being.)

And if you’re not sure whether you’re in the mood for boozing at all, the bar has plenty of options to have and have not.

Signature drinks (HK$90 each) include Cocktail #1, made with seaweed gin and lacto-fermented pineapple rind soda; Cocktail #2, a blend of homemade honeyed dashi vodka and a liquor made from mango sticky rice; and Cocktail #5 made from peanut milk rum, pineapple kombucha, and banana wine.

There are also non-alcoholic cocktails (HK$85 each) like the Summer in Bimini, made with clarified pink grapefruit and salted Seedlip Garden 108, a self-described “non-alcoholic spirit”; and the African Safari, made with rosemary, Seedlip Spice, homemade turmeric-tamarind cordial, and citrus.

The bar opens from Monday to Saturday starting at 5pm — a tad late for people who prefer their death in the afternoon.

(From left to right) a selection of cocktails on offer at The Sea, Cocktails #1, 5, and #3. Photos via Forks and Spoons.
(From left to right) a selection of cocktails on offer at The Sea, Cocktails #1, #5, and #3. Photos via The Sea


FIND IT:

The Sea is at 2 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan
Reservations: +852 2307 0030
Monday-Saturday, 5pm to 12am; closed on Sunday
MTR: Sheung Wan (approximately 10 minute walk)


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