At Forty-Five Hong Kong, Asia’s Swankiest Rooftop Bar Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg
— Updated on 2 February 2024

At Forty-Five Hong Kong, Asia’s Swankiest Rooftop Bar Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

— Updated on 2 February 2024
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

Much like TikTok dance challenges or your average strain of seasonal influenza, it would appear that the impulse to build vast, expensive, and wildly high-maintenance venues is afflicting cities in real time all across the globe.

Not content to let other international multi-concept eateries like Apollo’s Muse London or Shell House Sydney hog all of the limelight, Hongkong Land (HKL) has teamed up with Leading Nation — a bravura local hospitality operator who Aussies may have heard of via Mashi No Mashi at The Star — in order to launch Forty-Five: the overarching name given to an expansive complex overlooking Hong Kong’s CBD that, on sheer scale alone, makes one helluva first impression.

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Leading Nation, who are best known here in town for hip, unstuffy establishments like The Diplomat cocktail bar and Wagyumafia restaurants, were brought on following a lengthy two-year tendering process with the goal to create a multi-storey, multi-venue space that (speaking bluntly) would be a logistical nightmare to even break ground on in many parts of the global West.

Coming swiftly to a headcount: the venue encloses Cardinal Point, an indoor/outdoor set-up that has the potential to be the best rooftop bar in Southeast Asia; The Merchants, which pairs eyeball-exploding vistas with a side of Shanghainese cuisine; and Kaen Teppanyaki, a natural inclusion when one considers how much experience Leading Nation already have in the area of beefy Japanese specialties.

A Cristal Room by legendary French chef Anne-Sophie Pic — whose venues cumulatively hold the sum of 10 Michelin stars — is slated to open later this October.

Last week, I was introduced to Forty-Five in a fairly ad hoc fashion (with most of the duration spent at Cardinal Point) following the conclusion of this year’s Asia’s 50 Best bar awards. Unfortunately, the defining theme of that first visit was absolute f***king bedlam, down to the fact that the competition’s official afterparty — proudly brought to you by an egregious quantity of Mumm RSRV — was being held on-site.

Determined to figure out whether this could be the next best rooftop bar in the region (and possibly even further afield), I waited a few days for all the out-of-town bartenders and visiting travel journos to skedaddle, before clambering back up to the top of the Landmark retail complex. (Signage for Forty-Five is kept, perhaps intentionally, to a minimum; with the main landing accessible by taking an elevator to lvl 43 of Landmark’s Gloucester Tower.)

The views alone are worth writing home about.

Even if you fancy yourself impervious to the charms of a good sea-and-skyscraper lookout, the presence of a diaphragm-rattling sound system and sprawling sky terrace long enough for you to walk, jog, and most certainly shimmy along provide plenty of amusement.

The beverage menu takes a “festive, cheeky and retro” approach to cocktails; cribbing liberally from Southeast Asian pantries for unfamiliar takes on old favourites: like the White Negroni-style Larry Bird (~$28) made with Plantation Pineapple, or a Pandan Highball (~$30) — super-refreshing this time of year in the tropics — that is described as being “aggressively carbonated.”

At this early juncture, the proverbial jury is still out as to whether Cardinal Point will be the region’s next truly great rooftop bar. But, between the logistical support of HKL and Leading Nation’s proven track record of bringing les vibes — as I descend to make my dinner appointment at The Merchants, I very nearly dislocate my hip trying to catch a glimpse of one visiting A$AP Ferg — it’s hard to imagine a coalition of operators who are better resourced to turn this from a hospitality ‘destination’ into an essential place to eat and drink in Hong Kong.

best rooftop bar
Pictured: The Merchants — an elegant eatery, inspired by the grand dining rooms of belle époque Shanghai, that serves classic Chinese dishes on Forty-Five’s 44th floor.
Pictured: KAEN Teppanyaki — come for En Iwamura’s sculptures (pictured below) and stay for the delectable, mouth-melting Princess Wagyu.

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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