Throw a rock in Hong Kong in any direction. Chances are, you’d hit a stock broker. Or his accountant. It stands to reason then that someone would finally open a stock market themed bar modeled after the kind seen in Barcelona, New York City, and London. The one that’s opened in Hong Kong is called Wolf Market, and follows along the same line of thought that governs the other stock market bars; prices for spirits start off at a low, but the more guests order a particular drink, the higher the price rises. According to the press, the drink prices rise until they hit a certain limit, at which point the ‘market’ crashes and brings all the drinks back down to a low. Continue Reading
Honestly, every other post these days are about new recipes. I’d honestly like to have more time to write about insights into the bar industry, but I’ll be honest, nothing comes out without sounding overwhelmingly pretentious these days.
But more to the point, I recently finished in the top 3 for the preliminary round for the HK portion of Diplomatico’s 2017 World Tournament, and literally just submitted my entry for Diageo’s 2017 World Class Winter round. Find the recipes in their usual spots:
Just last month a good friend of mine back from Boston University finally decided to take the plunge with his college sweetheart, so I of course hopped on a flight to drink to the couples everlasting happiness. Now of course the wedding was fantastic, and I wish the happy couple all the best, but for me the highlight of any trip is doing the rounds at the liquor stores. Hong Kong, for all its strengths, still lingers at the tails of the new craft spirit movement, meaning that many of the most exciting products can only be found by people going overseas. It’s become an integral part of my planning for any trip to bookmark any notable liquor stores as well as cocktail bars in each city I visit.
There was a huge gap in my blog posts, and thats primarily because I felt suffocated at my post in The Ocean. Good news is that I’ve resigned from my position there, and will be starting a new job soon. Yay!
While I polish up some articles that have been stuck in limbo since forever, have a gander at some new entries in my Original Recipe section
Honestly, it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.
I had a plan. I had a target. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and was on the path to do it.
Just a few weeks ago, I graduated from the University of Hong Kong’s Masters of Business Administration program. By this time, I was supposed to have secured a place at some corporate desk job with the kind of ambitious salary that only MBA graduates have the balls to ask for. I was supposed to stick around at said desk job for about 5 years, during which I would be building my war chest for a little business I had been kicking around in my mind. During my off-time, I was supposed to hit cocktail bars and spirit shows around the world to keep my finger on the pulse of the beverage industry.
As you may have guessed, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
As of November, I have been taken on as the full time, long term bar manager for Le Comptoir Group’s latest and most ambitious venue, The Ocean.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was the last to see that coming. Having racked up only five years of part time experience, one would hardly expect someone with my resume make that jump from bartender to manager. Some might even say that I haven’t paid my dues yet.
True, I don’t have as many stories from behind the bar to tell. True, I don’t know what to do when a patron throws a fit and refuses to pay the bill (or rather, as of last week, didn’t know). True, I haven’t quite picked up the best way to milk a patron for all he’s worth.
But then again, managing a bar, as I’ve learned, is mostly an administrative job; rather than mixing drinks, most of my time is spent filling forms and doing the accounts, sending emails and looking for the best prices. Its almost the kind of sedentary and monotone job that I’ve come to despise, yet excel at, for most of my working life.
Had it been, I certainly wouldn’t have taken the offer. Despite all the hoops I have to jump, all the boxes I have to tick, I still get to take each day as its own unique entity. I still get that rush when the printer spits out a stream of tickets, I still find myself doing something totally non-routine every week. When thats the sort of thing that makes you feel alive, how could I do anything else?
That was the question I kept coming back to as I neared graduation day. As I weighed my options, I realized that I was never looking forward to starting with A Corporation, or Company B. I found myself considering jobs on the basis of which would best allow me to work a few shifts at a bar at night. All the reasons I fell in love with this industry were the same reasons I couldn’t leave it. I decided to go all-in.
So here I am, at my first full-time bar job, and as a manager at that. My parents hate it, naturally, but then most Asian parents aren’t satisfied unless you become a lawyer or doctor. My five year plan has gone to pieces, but this path I’ve chosen can still take me to the same place. But most importantly, I think I’ve made a decision that will make me happy, and its a choice I will stand by.
With all the love that soju has been getting these days, it seems unfair that I haven’t yet devoted any time to China’s national spirit baijiu (白酒), especially since I’ve been bumming around Shanghai for two months.
Now baijiu is a difficult subject to broach, especially if you’re, for all intents and purposes, a foreigner like myself. There is a huge deal of baijiu on the market, but the marketing is heavily skewed towards the local Chinese market, and more to the point, Chinese aficionados. The result is that there’s scarce amounts of English literature a pedestrian such as myself would have access to, and what little there is is typically written by the rare westerner that fell in love with baijiu years ago when they visited the Middle Kingdom on business.
Let’s face it. Baijiu is not a popular spirit as far as Americans are concerned. The pungent and quite simply indescribable nose of fermented sorghum (though somewhat familiar to Korea’s old fashioned Andong soju) is often too much for the uninitiated. The ABV is frequently as brain numbingly high at 60% or more. The packaging is kitschy and antiquated, especially when compared side-by-side with modern liquor bottles (Tanqueray 10 and Bacardi’s new bottles? Phwoar). Worst of all, for me at least, the taste of baijiu is so intense, you can’t make a drink with baijiu without blowing all the other flavours in the drink to oblivion.
How fortunate we are to be alive in this era then, when up steps a company like byejoe, the spirit of China to challenge everything there is to dislike about baijiu. I dropped a line to byejoe’s Shanghai office, but it turned out that byejoe’s President and CEO, Matt Trusch was at their Texas headquarters at the time. Luckily, Matt was kind enough to grant me an interview by phone and fill me in on byejoe’s back story. Continue Reading
I apologize for the pun.
No, not really
Previously, I wrote about the manufacture of probably the most highly regarded soju in Korea, Andong Soju. Though I would like to say more, I thought that the post was probably long enough. Here, I hope to cover some additional facts about Soju that I couldn’t go over before.