DarkSide at Rosewood Hong Kong, the sophisticated sultry jazz and cocktail parlour (#40 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021), has just introduced a new cocktail menu inspired by the eight phases of the moon and their mystical powers.
As can be expected, the menu is the epitome of innovation and creativity, and includes some breathtaking collaborations with international artists including Australian ceramic artist Ryan Foote of R L Foote Design Studio and Polish abstract resin artist Magdalena Klim — to design the unique vessel for each cocktail and its representative moon phase.
This is no straightforward menu that you flip through. The DarkSide team, under the able guidance of Simone Rossi and Arcadius Rybak, has gone the extra mile to create a one-of-a-kind experience, presenting the menu via a hi-tech hologram video which interactive segment that provides indecisive guests the chance to shake a Moon Magic Ball to reveal a moon phase representing one of the moon cocktail that is “meant” for them. We find this to be a nice touch given the fact that ever so often, guests can be intimidated by choice and sometimes even appreciate not having to work too hard on making decisions. This is also perfect for the adventurous guest who is open to trying new things.
The menu has 8 drinks (obviously), each inspired by different phases of the moon. So why has this menu taken inspiration from the lunar cycle? During each lunar cycle, according to astrology, yoga practice and ancient philosophies, the moon’s different phases influence human emotions and behaviour. According to the team, each cocktail corresponds to a different phase of the moon and the intensity of the drink is determined by its brightness or darkness. As the moon becomes brighter, the drink becomes lighter, and likewise as the moon gets darker, the drink gets stronger. We like that logic – makes perfect sense!
Here’s a quick look at the drinks:
NEW MOON – New Beginning
Believed to be a time for new beginnings and setting intentions for the month ahead, this is the very beginning of the lunar cycle. The corresponding cocktail is a stirred drink with a base of Johnnie Walker Black Label and Fernet Hunter, with aromatic notes provided by Japanese hinoki wood. The blend is approachable yet complex on the palate with the addition of Cantine Intorica Banana Aromatic Marsala Wine and is served in an elegant coupette glass with a single ice ball.
WAXING CRESCENT – Fresh Energy
The moon’s first step towards fullness, consistent with a build-up of personal energy, this is the second phase of the cycle. The phase is complemented by a stirred cocktail based loosely on an Old Fashioned with a Remy Martin VSOP cognac base. Nuttiness from tonka beans interacts with the complexity of Graham’s Fine Ruby Port wine and Bourgoin Pineau des Charentes. The aromatic cocktail is served in a teacup with a block of ice and spritzes of myrrh mist.
THE FIRST QUARTER – Momentum
The First Quarter is the phase where the entire right side of the moon is illuminated. This is believed to be the perfect time for people to revel in what they’ve been working on and channel that energy to propel themselves further. “Momentum” is a shaken drink with fruity notes and hints of acidity from raspberries and herbal notes provided by fig leaves and distilled whisky. The drink is served in a pony glass and garnished with rice paper.
THE WAXING GIBBOUS – Patience
Only days away from the moon in its full glory, The Waxing Gibbous phase follows the First Quarter and is associated with the qualities of patience and perseverance. The corresponding cocktail is a refreshing and tropical stirred Grey Goose vodka and Tio Pepe sherry libation, with exotic notes from coconut and pandan vinegar, balanced with sweet and fruity lychee. Taro provides a soft undertone of flavour, while a drop of sandalwood creates a complex aroma. Garnished with a single pandan leaf, the drink is served in a rocks glass over a block of ice that symbolises the Milky Way galaxy.
FULL MOON – Gratitude
We finally arrive at the phase of the moon when the orb is at full power; this is the occasion to be grateful and add extra strength to intentions – the Full Moon. “Gratitude” has a base of Star of Bombay gin with a clarified milk punch and a touch of nuttiness and acidity from sour cherry wine. The drink is served in a ceramic cup designed by Ryan Foote to symbolise the rough and ridged texture of the moon’s surface.
WANING GIBBOUS – Giving
Waning Gibbous marks the gradual retreat of the moon’s power, with a shadow on the right-hand side of the sphere. The related cocktail is a fizzy and refreshing take on a whisky highball, most likely representing the residual energy left behind by the full moon phase. Created with Michter’s Bourbon and Mancino Bianco Vermouth, the cocktail exudes delicate herbal notes from Rosewood’s signature blend tea of passionfruit and cherry blossom, with a hint of acidity from strawberry gum. The drink is served in a ceramic rock-textured highball mug whose design was inspired by the form of a meteorite.
LAST QUARTER – Transition
The third quarter moon, or the Last Quarter, is illuminated on the left-hand side. The moon is now back to half-power and this is supposedly the ideal period to let go of any negativity and transition into a place of calm and balance. The complementary “Transition” is a creamy shaken cocktail with ruby chocolate cordial. Aromatic and floral notes are derived from the shea butter calvados and a touch of London Essence soda water opens up the complex flavours. The drink is served over ice in a ceramic textured moon cup with a straw.
WANING CRESCENT – Intuition
The power of the moon is nearly at its end, with just a small left-hand crescent visible in the sky, known as Waning Crescent. The cocktail that is linked is a stirred drink, earthy and herbaceous from beetroot and pipiroka with just a hint of acidity from vinegar. Gentle coffee notes from Mr Black coffee liqueur blend with the aroma of coffee water spray, added on top of the cocktail that is served in a coupette glass with an ice ball. The cocktail is deep red in colour with gold and silver edible glitter garnish that reflects the galaxy’s mesmerising sparkle.
The drinks, while complete in themselves, are elevated by the way they are presented. Australian artist Ryan Foote, whose design studio in Melbourne is focused on delivering unique and contemporary ceramic tableware and drinkware, teamed up with DarkSide to create a series of porcelain vessels that convey the dark side of the moon while also tantalising the visual, tactile and taste sensations of the cocktails. He fashioned three special cups for The Moon Menu experience — one inspired by moon craters, one by the actual moon and one by the universe’s meteorites.
Polish Resin artist Magdalena was tasked with the gargantuan challenge of creating the illusion of an entire galaxy within each drinking glass. Her work fuses art, nature and the science of chemistry to create multidimensional art pieces. For DarkSide’s Moon Menu, Magdalena created a milky way effect in each glass by layering resin with sparkling glitters, mysterious ghost pigments and handmade crystals. The brilliant combination of mixed media in each glass adds a new and as yet unseen dimension to the cocktail-drinking experience.
The eight drinks pay remarkable attention to detail, from concept and flavour to the final presentation. The Moon Menu is alluring and does a marvellous job of evoking a sense of mystery and poetry through its storytelling and collaborations. The artists the team have collaborated with have been carefully chosen for their ability to fuse a sense of magic into contemporary craft through their work. We can see this menu becoming one of the most talked about works of art this year and if you find yourself in Hong Kong, we urge you to try it and let us know your thoughts.
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