Tucked away in the basement of the Central Landmark building next to Louis Vuitton, is this mysterious Dr.’s ‘clinic’. I am a huge believer that gin can cure all ailments and back in the day it was indeed used to cure malaria, so a trip to the Dr.’s office was absolutely on the cards as this place boasts the biggest collection of gins in Hong Kong with over 250 varieties.
There are 2 office doors, one of which is almost ‘Alice in Wonderland-eque’ where you have to watch your head to get in or have a ‘drink me’ potion to shrink ( at 5’1’, I do not have this issue but for any ‘normal person’ watch out!).
Upon entering, you are transported to an intimate apothecary style speakeasy with dark wood finishing and colourful Victorian style furniture. The staff are also decked out in Dr.’s uniforms, shame they don’t have stethoscopes as well to complete the look!
We arrived just before 7pm on a Thursday night and already this place was chockfull. We couldn’t get a table for a good 30 minutes which goes to show, Hong Kong does have an avid gin fan base or perhaps everyone just likes a good speakeasy.
Dr. Fern’s menu has an exhaustive list of gins as well as tonics which can be paired (the bartender can recommend this for you if you are unsure). The gins are divided into 4 taste categories explained in the taste guide at the front; Sweet and confectionery, juniper and citrusy, fruity and floral, spicy and savoury.
Before, I delve into what we ordered, as a gin enthusiast I must stress the below guidelines for a good gin:
- A gin should always be cold. One big block/spherical chunk of Ice is required. Small pieces of ice will melt quickly diluting the gin and adversely affecting the flavour
- A gin Glass should be a tulip glass instead of the high ball glasses once used, to allow room for the big block of ice and for you to capture the aroma of the garnishes better. Most of the taste can come from the aroma
- Tonic pairing is very important and should be 1 part gin, 3 parts tonic water. A wide variety of tonics are available now
- Appropriate garnishes should be used. E.g. Hendricks garnishes are usually cucumber or rose, Opihr Oriental spiced gin uses orange zest and cloves etc. This can be to your preference and depends on the main botanicals that are comprised in the gin
- Remember no 2 gins are the same! They all have varying components and botanicals making them all unique!
One red flag was that Dr. Fern’s stocks Bombay Sapphire. Having been to many bars and clubs with this being the only gin option, I hate to think that the majority of people who have tried this gin think this is what all gins taste like. To my dismay, I saw someone order this *sigh*.
Another red flag was that all the glasses I was seeing were high ball and not tulip with several pieces of ice. Having said that, I understand that some of Dr. Fern’s gins are frozen beforehand and I did notice that there was very little ice so the gin would not dilute.
Our group ordered the gin of the day which was a Phơ style concoction with lemongrass, the G’vine Floraison with Fentimans tonic with green grapes, William’s Great British extra Dry Gin and Q tonic with lemon zest and ginger cubes and the Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin.
All were very different gins; the Floraison being the sweetest of the bunch with the slightly tangy but mostly sweet green grapes, the William’s was slightly bitter which appeals to me but I could barely taste the ginger, the Four Pillars resembled a sparkling rose than a gin and it was slightly sweet, which isn’t what I usually go for as I prefer sour or bitter flavours and the Daily prescription had very interesting blends of savoury and citrusy flavours, very much tasting like the Vietnamese noodle soup.
Verdict: Dr. Fern’s has the potential to be a great after work drinking joint. The only thing that holds me back is the service. The very rushed, confused and not so friendly staff didn’t make me relaxed, moreover at one point they turned the AC on so high, we all had to rush out of there. Glasses are an average of 150 HKD which is typical for quality gins. Plus points were the premium location, lush décor, vast array of drinks (not just gin) and the lollipop with our bill was a nice touch!
Shop B31A, B1/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Ph: 852 2111 9449