Stockton Takes You Back to the Halycon Times of 1890s London

Stockton has got quite the stellar resumé. Earning a number of prestigious titles since its opening over six years ago—which includes #11 Best Bar for Asia’s 50 Best Bars—the speakeasy bar has garnered citywide attention for its world-famous cocktails and well-loved bar food menu. Serving classic and creative drinks, the original menu is backed by eclectic, Darwin-inspired stories.


Previously owned by Maximal Concepts, the bar recently handed its reigns to an equally-lovely new owner, whom we had the pleasure of meeting. We headed to the hidden gem to try a range of the best cocktails and food—and it’s safe to say, it was one of the most hospitable and delectable experiences we’ve had to date.

stockton cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Location


Situated in buzzing Central, Stockton is tucked away up an unexpected, nondescript flight of stairs behind a narrow alleyway. It ticks all the boxes of being a speakeasy—the hidden venue, the word-of-mouth recognition, and the vintage interiors upon entering. It’s not really the type of place you just stumble upon—but people talk. And they talk a lot because Stockton is always packed—filled with social groups, business meetings, and date nights.

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Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Design


Designed by Australian-born Ben McCarthy of Hong Kong-based design firm, Charlie & Rose, Stockton is inspired by the Prohibition era in Victorian England, where the Temperance movement was at its peak—and so was the rise in speakeasy bars. So as one can probably imagine, the London-themed interiors feature the expected favourites—plush leather sofas, deep wooden furnishings, and the occasional radical art piece or ornament.

stockton cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

There’s an old-world nostalgia at the venue, whisking you away from the city crowd only a few footsteps away. The design is minimal yet sophisticated, featuring beautiful Persian carpets and a sporadic dash of whimsical taxidermy.

stockton mr ping cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The Food


It’s definitely a challenge for bars that are predominantly known for their drinks, to master their food menu too. Yet, Stockton champions both the food and drinks list. Serving a range of snack-worthy platters, as well as its bigger plates, the kitchen can whip up a feast for a delectable palette. We were presented with a beautifully-curated personalised menu with Cha Siu Papers Times printed over it—a heartwarming gesture! The menu featured a mix of the classic cocktails and the best bar bites to try.

stockton hk

Mixed Board at Stockton | Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

First, we tried the Mixed Board, a decadent cheese and cured meat platter served with light crackers and crispy bread slices. There was prosciutto, salami, mortadella, and rich cheese slices from across the globe. An obvious sharing plate, this dish makes an indulgent and quick pecking option for group gatherings. Stockton works with with the best artisans that have the highest distinction in France to serve guests with authentic cheese and cold cuts of the best quality.

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Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

We then tried the Beef and Tomato Meatballs, a juicy devouring dish, perfectly complemented by the fresh tomatoes. The Heirloom Tomatoes & Burrata was also a heartwarming dish, using creamy, rich burrata atop a bed of sweet, ripe tomatoes.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

There’s always room for a cheat day—and for us, treating means deep-fried goodness is involved. That’s not to say it’s not classy though—at Stockton, it certainly feels it, even when there’s a plate of hot fish and chips in front of you. As one of the signature creations, the Fish & Chips fully represents its British-bound surroundings with honour. And it tastes delicious at that. The piping hot fish is dipped crispy batter, served with equally-crunchy chips. If you love this old-fashioned combination, be sure to give it a try at Stockton.

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Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The salad was refreshing and well seasoned. We think it could have done with a little more dressing—perhaps some more olive oil or balsamic.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Impossible™ foods are all the hype right now. Our favourite variation is when it’s in the burger patty form—and that’s how it’s served at Stockton. The burger looked bland upon first impressions, but one bite in proved us wrong, and it was in fact very juicy and didn’t need excessive sauce. On the side, the Truffle & Parmesan Fries were gloriously seasoned with my favourite ingredient—truffle—and were crispy and just the right thickness.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

We then tried the Deep Fried Pink Prawns and the Truffle Ham Toast. These were definitely the best bites of our experience—a unique duo too. The Deep Fried Pink Prawns were delightfully tender and coated in a crispy batter, without being overpowering or greasy.


Meanwhile, the Truffle Ham Toast offered a special twist on your typical toast and closely resembled the well-adorned Japanese Wagyu Katsu sandwiches seen at many izakayas across town. Both of these dishes make perfectly scrumptious snacking options for small and large groups.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The Crispy Chicken was a classic take on the pecking Japanese Karaage dish. Although it was tender inside, crunchy outside, the chicken could’ve done with perhaps an Asian chilli sauce or a homemade mayonnaise of some sort. Otherwise, it was delicious and we can imagine this being a crowd favourite.

The Drink


As you can probably imagine upon walking into the bar, Stockton’s drinks menu is also concept-based. At the time of our visit, the speakeasy was still serving its original Origin of Species menu, a cocktail list inspired by the Darwinian evolution. From what we heard, the bar is working on a new menu concept—which we very much look forward to hearing more about. The Darwin menu is very enticing though, each page reflecting a different era of our evolution.


Stockton has a unique cocktail game where you can ask the bartenders for a secret cocktail—if you guess the three main ingredients correctly ((alcohol base, liqueur, juice/fruit), then the cocktail is on-the-house!

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

We tried Sin Tax, One Thousand, and Old Fashioned. Sin Tax is inspired by chemistry, on how ethanol helps release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins in the brain; chemicals that make us happy and less anxious. The drink is made up of young coconut, kaffir lime liquor, citric solution, and pandan Tanqueray gin. Served in a plaster-cast money bag pouch, the One Thousand reflects a simple alcoholic beverage that flowed freely in the Indus Valley Civilization. It featured delicate notes of ginger, lemon, honey, yellow Chartreuse, and a hint of curry leaves.


The Old Fashioned takes a unique twist on the classic drink—blending bourbon, cognac, and rye whisky for an aromatic taste. Lok, the bartender, explained to us that this is a go-to drink for many—some people drink up to nine of them in one go.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Overall


From start to finish, our experience at Stockton was exceptional. The staff was so accommodating and the venue was not pretentious at all—a refreshing change from some other high-end bars which take drinking a little too seriously. The food was surprisingly on par with the drinks—a challenge, yet, achievable when the right chefs are chosen.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Some drinks which I wouldn’t typically order—for example, strong whisky sours—were very drinkable and didn’t taste overpowering. The cocktail menu was as intriguing as the interiors, and the concept is everything here. If you’re looking to impress a date, new colleagues, or simply head out for a chilled gathering on a Friday night, this is the place to be.


Stockton, 32 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2565 5268, stockton.com.hk


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