There is a deliberately unassuming little club on Staunton Street in Hong Kong called Feather Boa. From the outside, you would never know it existed. There is no sign, indeed no indication whatsoever that a popular bôite can be found within. The curtains hanging in the storefront establishment are thick velvet and always drawn. The front doors are always closed.
Entering the Boa, however, is like falling down the rabbit hole and landing in someone’s odd and jumbled living room. On any given night, ex-pats and those-in-the-know can be found packed like sardines in the ramshackle chic, salon-like interior, with its tattered rugs, retro couches and funky chandeliers - a charming little den of iniquity smack dab in the heart of Hong Kong.
Among other things, Feather Boa is known for is its signature drinks. One is the chocolate martini, which consists, more or less, of a lethal dose of vodka garnished with a handful of malted milk balls. Now, in my experience, mixing chocolate with alcohol is never a good idea and frankly, a waste of vodka. However, add in highly-launchable mini chocolate cannon balls floating in a sea of combustible bad judgment, and you’ve piqued my interest. This is a glass of hijinks.
Anyone who knows me or has read my story, "The Battle of the Beignet", will know that when it comes to doing battle with food items, I am short on restraint. I attribute this to the fact that I grew up with three older siblings who would blast me – the youngest - the "brat" – with anything they could get their hands on when Mom wasn’t looking. Call it self-preservation, but I quickly learned the necessary dining room "tricks of the trade" to protect myself. For example, a well-syrup’d flapjack flung at the head of my brother would generally stop him in his tracks. A handful of spaghetti worked equally effectively. Even now, I find it difficult to suppress those instincts, and tend to view everything on a dinner table as a potential item in my arsenal. Mix alcohol into the equation, and there is absolutely no hope of a last-minute reprieve of good judgment. Duck and cover quickly becomes the order of the moment.
Sure enough one fateful night, for reasons that I cannot begin to remember, though am sure were not adequately considered at the time, a chocolate martini - specifically - those floating balls of malted goodness, became not just a garnish, but that evening's weapon of choice. Backed up by my trusty wingman Koko, who is always ready for a good battle, I thrust my hand into my chocolate martini and scooped out one of the already-melting chocolate cannon balls. My targets? Two unsuspecting Cathay Pacific pilots standing across the packed room. With a fast movement, I launched the first milk ball, which traveled with surprising speed and landed with a heavy "thomp" on pilot #1’s chest, just above the "Cathay Pacific" logo embroidered on his uniform pocket, and giving it a Rorschach-like quality with its brown, chocolaty stain. The second milk ball hit pilot #2 in the back of the neck, uncomfortably, no doubt, lodging inside his collar. Targets hit.
Normally after propelling food items at high speed across a crowded bar, it is best to quickly turn in the opposite direction and feign innocence. Unfortunately, Koko and I were caught up in the humor of the strike, and could only convulse with laughter - out-of-control, voices squeaking, faces red and contorted, tears just pouring out of our eyes, hysterical laughter. A dead giveaway, and probably why we didn’t notice that pilot #1 had stopped talking and was staring right at us, a crazed look in his eye and God help us, a chocolate martini in his hand.
What happened next is a blur of whizzing brown objects and screams of laughter as the battle launched into full swing. While it wasn't "Animal House" in scale, it did extend to include a small group of patrons, who enthusiastically thrust their fingers into any chocolate martini they could find. Quickly, our reserves ran out, and due to the steep price of replenishing them with another chocolate martini, the battle finished. Now officially bonded with the group, we ordered drinks, peeled squished milk balls off ourselves, and chalked the whole thing off to just another night at the Boa.
The next morning, I awoke with only a sketchy recollection of the night’s activities. As I stepped into a hot shower, I caught my reflection in the mirror and suddenly the evening's antics came rushing back to me. There, smashed and stuck to the skin on my lower back, was a lone malted milk ball, a melted and misshapen chocolate testament to the decadent influence of a hidden little club in Hong Kong.
Author's Note: While I am not proud of this blatant act of recklessness and immaturity, it does make a great story. And if you are planning a visit to this iconic establishment, I would strongly recommend you wear brown.