Hong Kong scored another point in the ongoing Asia "wine hub" game last week.
The game I'm referring to is the constant rivalry between Singapore and Hong Kong for "wine hub" status...it's an extension of the long-running rivalry in practically all pursuits. In the wine game though, Hong Kong definitely has the progressive edge, especially given the government attitudes towards duty and tax on alcohol.
The latest hot spot news is the opening of the slick, high-tech wine bar Amo Eno that sent a ripple of excitement through an already vibrant Hong Kong wine scene - So big was this news that it rated a special launch feature aired on CNBC - or had a very organized PR machine see to it that it made the news! Either way, it made it.
I was headed to Hong Kong for TLN when I heard the trailer on CNBC...I noted the name and bookmarked it as a place to go see. The next day in Hong Kong I popped into a Watsons to buy a bottle and picked up a magazine that had an advertisement for Amo-Eno.
Within 24 hours I had had two marketing pitches resonate with me. That's as good as fate grabbing me by the ear lobe and dragging me there...so I let fate lead the way and set up a drink with wine friends at Amo Eno.
Amo Eno (located on the 3rd floor of the IFC Mall ) is clearly a design concept wine bar centered around an interactive touch-screen "bar counter" showing the store's wine selection. I'm not so sure about the location as it seems like a transit spot to me, but the bar was full when I arrived and the business was brisk. It's not the easiest shop to find though - so if you're planning a rendez-vous factor that into the travel there.
Tasting samples are availabe from a wall of self-serve enomatic machines and a wonderfully eclectic selection of wines is available by the bottle for on -premise or take-home purchase.
Where Amo Eno scores big is that the wine prices aren't bloated by an egregious GST tax and duty structure like Singapore. Plus the selection offered interesting older vintage wines most at reasonable prices.
Amo Eno simply means "love wine" and it's clear the founders are nuts for both wine and design. The bar was founded by well-known US sommelier Andrew Bradbury and his wife Brooke. He describes himself as a wine geek and tech junkie - originally marrying his two interests to launch the world’s first electronic wine list in 2001 in collaboration with Microsoft at Aureole in Las Vegas.
Andrew has since gone on to be involved in other techno-posh wine bar concepts at 55 Degrees at Mandalay Bay and Clo at Time Warner Center in New York City.
Amo Eno is the culmination of these experiences and is put together with tremendous attention to design detail influenced by Brooke.
Since the Airport Express runs right through the IFC it's handy enough to drop in for a glass of something either coming in or going out.
But if you're leaving Hong Kong and you pick up a bottle to bring back to Singapore - remember you'll have to pay the DUTY...Ouch!
Oh! How silly of me...how could we all forget about the duty and tax?