40 Hong Kong Street
First Impressions: Pronounced as it’s spelt – funny story there, between me and the bar’s PR person – FOC (“fire” in Catalan) is a buzzing cocktail bar serving up Spanish and Asian-inspired tapas in a fabulously refurbished shophouse. Giant heads hang from the ceiling and line the open kitchen, a playful take on the correfoc or Catalan fire-run.
The Chosen One: Award-winning mixologist Dario Knox takes the craft of cocktails to the next level with a solera system to age a range of spirits and make FOC’s own syrups, infusions and bitters. His homemade lemon-agave gin and basil-lemon tincture are what make Smells Like Gin Spirit ($14) the dazzling little invention it is. Great craft beers for blokes, too.
The Cheapskate: While happy hour was not yet on the menu, shelling out $13 to $16 or so for such expertly put-together cocktails isn’t outrageous, in our opinion. The mixologists even throw in a little jig for the price, giving your concoction one skilled shake! Beers are from $9.50, sangria from $12.50, and tequilas and sakes from $12.
Bite on this: Nandu Jubany, you saint! We snacked on the Michelin-starred chef’s crispy pork tacos ($14), watermelon gazpacho ($12) with charcoal smoked olive oil ice cream, and black Mediterranean seafood paella ($22), served to us at the bar counter by head chef Jordi Noguera. And we won’t even pretend we didn’t get properly stuck into FOC’s chocolate burger ($12), made of white chocolate, vanilla mousse, strawberries and mint leaves and meant to be eaten with both hands like a regular burger. Perfection!
Last but not least: You’ll find a detailed breakdown of every cocktail’s ingredients on the menu, plus a nifty diagram showing you where it lies on the scale from sweet to sour, dry to bitter. Can’t decide? Catch Knox’s eye, tell him what you fancy and let him surprise you.