Arts restaurant review

A tropical escape

Tropical delights on a chilly Boston night

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The Mai Tai, watermelon sugar, and pear Bellini at Kowloon.

Kowloon Pop-up Bar (Moxy Boston)
Bar, $$
240 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116
Friday, Saturday 7–11 p.m.

Kowloon’s new tiki bar pop-up debuted in Boston at the MOXY hotel at the start of March. Since 1950, the family-owned restaurant Kowloon has boasted a variety of Asian-inspired food and drinks just a half hour drive up Route 1 in Saugus, MA. But this year, city-dwellers can say goodbye to the drive and hello to tiki cocktails and Terra Santa Rosé on Friday and Saturday nights, just a block away from Boston Common.

Nicole, our host, generously invited us to sample some of Kowloon’s specials while showing us around the venue. The first floor touted the tiki cocktails, while another bar served more traditional drinks on the second floor. Decked with blue and purple LEDs, fairy lights, and modern chandeliers, the whole venue transported us to tropical Miami. This was no coincidence. “The outside was based off of Miami. We [have] cool comfortable couches and a container bar with a DJ on top,” Nicole said.

The boozy drinks were just as inviting as the leather couches. We started the night with the Mai Tai, Watermelon Sugar, and Pear Bellini. Nicole noted that the Mai Tai, along with its popular counterparts the White Mai Tai and Scorpion Bowl for One, is part of the traditional Kowloon lineup.

My personal favorite was the Watermelon Sugar, probably because I’m a big fan of cotton candy and watermelon. This drink had a Prosecco base, creatively spiced with lychee puree, cold pressed watermelon juice, and lime juice and topped off with watermelon Red Bull. A boat of cotton candy floated gently on the potent mixture. Arts Editor Mindy ordered a delicious Pear Bellini, a simple champagne made from peaches with a light fruity flavor and the sweetest of the three drinks. It was decorated with a piece of dried pear and made for an excellent drink boasting a sugary kick. Tai enjoyed the Mai Tai (no relation). Served in a tiki totem glass, the rummy refreshment came on strong and contrasted nicely with the sweet Maraschino cherries on top. Unlike Mai Tais you might find at other bars, the drink’s distinct layers weren’t visible, but the taste and tropical vibes were spot on.

We finished the night with the Scorpion Bowl for One, Hello Limoncello, and Vueve Clicquot Yellow Label — all deliciously crafted and finished. The Scorpion Bowl was a rum-forward drink, and it’s definitely worth trying. It was sweeter and fruitier than its tropical cousin, the Mai Tai, and both are part of Kowloon’s collection of secret recipes. For champagne lovers, the Hello Limoncello, with Limoncello, Cointreau, and Prosecco, topped with a lemon macaroon, stood out as a favorite. The Vueve Clicquot can’t be forgotten either; it was a delicious dry champagne served with a sidecar full of popcorn to complement the bubbly beverage. The fun atmosphere and champagne made it feel like New Year’s Eve, but the year is just beginning for Kowloon.

The pop-up may not stay on the first floor. As the Mai Tais and Bellinis attract longer lines to the hotel, MOXY may be moving its booze to the rooftop when nicer weather hits. Overall, MOXY is the perfect place to take a break from a long week of psets. It’s busiest on weekends when Kowloon is open, but for adventurous ones looking for weekday drinking, definitely check out their Wine Wednesdays and Martini Mondays. And if you catch yourself wandering around Boston on a Saturday night, be sure to order a Watermelon Sugar for me.