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
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
When is loads of booze a bad thing?
An impossible thought, I know. The more the merrier, many people would say. Bartenders are, after all, competitive creatures, and one such measure on the mixology-o-meter is the number of rare and obscure liqueur and spirits on one’s back bar.
A fully loaded bar certainly does have its advantages. First off, it is an impressive sight; both inviting and daunting, a well lit wall of bottles gives a bar a certain charisma. And few bartenders can deny it feels good to thoughtfully twirl his (or even perhaps her) mustache and coyly ask a guest if he’s ever had such-and-such amaro when in all probability they have not, and then mix it into their next drink. Finally, there is the advantage of versatility; tastes and preferences vary wildly from person to person, and having access to a large arsenal of spirits and liqueurs allows you to cater to even the most finicky of individuals, or even perhaps update your menu at the drop of a hat.
But what is the cost of setting up a bar this way?
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.
When I first started bartending, barrel aged cocktails were all the rage. First came the Old Fashioned, then came the Manhattans, Negronis, and any other classic cocktail you could think of. At my own workplace at the time, Fatty Crab, we aged a Boulevardier and a Rosita, with a good deal of success; we had six 5L barrels from Buffalo Trace going at any one time, and we would bottle the cocktails in old Sipsmith gin bottles when the cocktails saw enough time in the barrel.
Now that I’ve been placed in charge of the drinks program at a brand new bar (more details on that here), I thought it was finally time for me to create my own aged cocktail. But where to begin? Continue Reading
I’ve added three new cocktails to my Original Cocktails list. Have a look, make it at home or at work (assuming of course your place of work allows drinking on the premises) , and let me know what you think!
Cocktail Concept: Her Eyes
Cocktail Concept: Il Sale Della Vita
Cocktail Concept: Caribbean Espionage