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State of the bar in Hong Kong

So... I finally visited Christofer here in Hong Kong. It has been too long (and too long just local vacation with some rare exceptions in Dubai).

HK was one of my choices to visit, not only because its coolness, but also because of its bar culture.
It is very difficult to rate bar culture from afar. Often it is more the state of marketing than the real quality of the bar - hence experience s a very important part of making yourself the picture.

So I went to a couple of the more advanced places and know now more.

Antonio Lai seems to be here hugely successful, and he seems to just hit the sweet spot between mass compatibility and advanced mixing technique. I visited one of his “outposts” Quinary. It seems, that he is the closest, what a bartender/mixology could come to a celebrity chef. The cocktails were good - I had a carbonated drink (Perlini) with lemongrass redistilled gin. I think this was the most innovative technique I have seen. And it worked - the lemongrass was bright and z…
Recent posts

Which brands to use? David vs. Goliath?

I just read today a newsletter of Jörg Meyer (owner of the amazing bar Le Lion Café de Paris), that he has silently taken almost all products of DIAGEO from his shelves - as well as other brands of multinational spirit companies. And I can very much sympathize with that.

Unfortunately if you are in Dubai, it isn’t that easy - as these companies co-own the liquor suppliers (hence getting support as well as reasonable pricing is without the brands basically impossible). I also don’t have exactly the same pragmatism as Jörg. I am not necessary against brands only because they are owned by multinationals. Except of course, that these companies reasonably bad screwed up...

But I do agree, that if companies are managing with their red pencil and do quality downgrades, because of profit efficiency it really pisses me off.

These are my points I do consider:


Several expensive ultra-aged rums (e.g. Ron Zacapa) using sugar, to smoothen out the palate.Deceptive labeling (e.g. Zacapa’s “23 sistema…

A holistic approach to F&B venues and their staff

I have just received and read an interesting article: Serving up a great restaurant customer experience To be honest, I do mostly agree with the article. Yes - a friendly, engaging, enabling atmosphere and approach to guests is important. However there is one big issue: Nowadays people (managers / directors) assume, that if you are good with guest engagement as well as complaint handling, you do have a winner venue. I am sure, that you are not surprised, that I have got a very different opinion. read more

Bar Culture & Contemporary Culture

Somebody who wants to be a "real" bartender should have a well-versed knowledge. Not only about drinks (this is pretty much the beginning), but also what just happens in this world: politics (even though, you should not bring it into a bar), sports (same as before) and culture - not only music (and I don't necessarily talk about pop culture), but also classical music, jazz (...), literature, visual arts... but also science... basically everything what happens on this planet.
You don't necessary need to be an encyclopedia and you can have "dark spots", but you should have definitely heard of the Higgs-Boson particle or Jeff Koons.
In fact, a lot of classic bars were directly connected with arts - not only that artists (like writers, but also any other kind of creatives) were frequenting them regularly - but there were also references to art: In Harry's Bar in Venice, Cipriani named a drink and a dish after famous Italian painters: Bellini (paintings of G…

Middle Eastern styled Sangria

It is always a bit "touchy" to incorporate anything Middle Eastern to alcoholic drinks.
But then it is absolutely legal and accepted to drink booze in Dubai...

For a promotion, Robin the Restaurant Manager of our Arabic restaurant asked me to create a drink.
We agreed, that a Sangria would be refreshing and would have sufficient mass appeal.

At the end, it did not really taste Arabic - just had few hints, which made it to one of the best Sangria I  have tried since quite a while...

The Idea
These days, I am picking a specific drink and then go to foodpairing.com to pick other aromas, to compliment the main ingredients.
Unfortunately I don't have the "pro" version (which in my humble opinion, is outrageously priced), so I could not choose red wine - but the other flavors are going well together - and I am sure, that red wine and pomegranate also share similar aroma molecules...

The Wine
Sangria should not be made with expensive wine. In fact, a full-bodied tannin…

Are natural aromas and essential oils the future of bar culture?

Again reflecting on Darcy O'Neil's visit to Dubai (and to Library Bar), he used natural aromas and essential oils (...), to produce house-made syrups for his drinks.

This is pretty smart, because:

...there are far more natural aromas than syrup flavors....it is probably less expensive to use 1 ml of natural aromas per liter of simple syrup, than buying one of the syrup brands....you know what goes into the syrup (let's be honest here - most syrups are anyway using the same aromas and often even artificial aromas for their own products). Especially impressive were an aroma made out of tobacco leaves, which was bright, intense - really mindblowing - and a "lactone" made out of oak, which had strong vanilla notes and a complex coconut character (without tasting like Malibu). These are not your run-of-the-mill syrups.
This is all very new and very cool to me. But the question remains, is this the right direction for the bar - for my bar?  Since quite a while, I have …

Secrets of Darcy - this is the best way to create sugar syrup

I am a "rich syrup guy"... not a "simple syrup guy".
This is, because it is better to be able to control dilution by yourself - not by he setup you have got.

I had also a pretty straight forward method: adding 1 kg sugar into 1/2 liter of cold water and blend until dissolved (be carefully, not to blend too long with a high-performance blender, because it would heat up).

The issue here: it takes some time - because sugar doesn't "like" to dissolve in cold liquid.

A lot of bartenders are adding sugar into hot liquid. This isn't a good idea either: due to hydrolysis the sucrose is converting into fructose and glucose. This makes the sugar thicker and sweeter - but also makes the result less consistent (as you don't meticulously monitor all details (time, temperature, pH, etc.). Further the thickness of the glucose worsen the ability of the syrup to mix in cold liquid (speak a cocktail).

Darcy, of artofdrink.com has a profound chemistry insight a…