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This library of rare and exotic spirits is hidden treasure

Find it if you can. Clue: 64 Staunton Street.

  • Victoria Chow



BY Kenny Loh

September 11th, 2017


Entrepreneur Victoria Chow wears many hats. She’s behind the concept, the look and the feel of her ultra-popular f&b establishments; and she’s also the one who pounds the pavement to find the rare gins, rums, tequilas and whiskies, and the fresh market produce for those hip establishments.

If you’re wondering what her secret formula is, we’ll tell you – it’s no secret. Chow’s winning vision boils down to one thing: a daringness to stand out for being different.

The Woods, her artisanal basement bar on Hollywood Road, is famed for its unique culinary take on cocktails. Here, award-winning mixologists combine exotic spirits sourced from faraway smaller-batch distilleries with seasonal fruits and vegetables to create unusual yet tasty concoctions such as a four-pepper margarita, a beet negroni and a strawberry rhubarb shrub. The watering hole is compact but not claustrophobic, thanks to the harmonious mash-up of natural wood, beautiful marbled surfaces and soft, warm lighting.

Then there’s Kwoon by the Woods, which is The Woods’ funkier and more playful younger sister (think retro light-up signs, diner-style tabletop and high chairs, and clean white walls). Hailed as Asia’s first brand of artisanal canned cocktails made from natural ingredients without the pretentiousness or preservatives, the cheeky bar serves up equally sophisticated drinks in a far more casual setting. And true to Chow’s creative ways, the aluminum cans containing those cocktails are dressed in an eye-catching array of prints contributed by guest artists from both the local and global design community.

The showstopping centrepiece is an open plywood cabinet, which is filled, neatly, with more than 300 unfamiliar gins; rums, tequilas and whiskies picked up from the best craft distilleries around the world.

Chow’s newest venture, The Woods’ Annex, has raised the bar of the Hong Kong f&b scene way higher than before. It is a glorious spirit-tasting room hidden, literally, in the heart of Soho behind Kwoon by the Woods. Designed like a private kitchen, subtle industrial-esque details punctuate the minimalist space, which can sit only eight patrons at any time (heads-up: by appointment only!). The showstopping centrepiece is an open plywood cabinet, which is filled, neatly, with more than 300 unfamiliar gins; rums, tequilas and whiskies picked up from the best craft distilleries around the world.

To make the immersive tasting experience even more compelling for those patrons, rare spirits are tagged with their own “library cards”, which reveal a history of previous drinkers. In-depth workshops hosted by The Woods’ experimental mixologists will also shed more light on the incredible art of distilling.

“Consumers today can easily distinguish between different wine producing regions and grape varieties. Interestingly enough, the same cannot be said for spirits. Those consumers care about provenance and craftsmanship, and we saw a gap in the market with regards to spirits,” Chow said. “Through our tastings at The Woods’ Annex, we hope to impart our knowledge of spirits to elevate guests’ enjoyment of their drinks and for them to develop a more adventurous palate.”