Lockdown diaries: Hong Kong bartenders’ favourite quarantine cocktails

Credit: The Old Man

With Hong Kong’s bars now closed, the city’s bartenders can’t do what they do best: serve great drinks. Instead, they’ve been finding creative ways to stay busy (hint: it involves bottled cocktails, boardgames, and Zoom).

John Nugent, The Diplomat

What’s your go-to quarantine cocktail?

I have been trying to support other bars as well as my own by buying takeaway cocktails. Otherwise, I’ll just buy a bottle of wine with dinner and keep it simple.

Have you found any new hobbies?

I’ve been cooking a lot more, and I’m currently refinishing an old trunk.

Are you working on any new drinks?

Right now I’m making smoothie recipes for the new Elephant Grounds Roastery.

What haven’t you been able to live without?

My team. They have been upbeat, positive, and constantly striving through these difficult times. I couldn’t do this without them.

How have you been staying sane without customers?

We opened The Diplomat Café (pop-up), basically rebranding the bar as a daytime hangout.

What have you missed the most since the bars have closed? 

I miss everything, loud guests, late nights, one too many. Bars bring culture to a city and a neighbourhood, and we are missing that right now.

Arkadiusz Rybak, Darkside

What’s your go-to quarantine cocktail?

Cognac Old Fashioned, which is part of our bottled cocktail range.

Have you found any new hobbies?

I’ve been studying photography and practising martial arts. I started four years ago, and now I have time to pick it up again.

Are you working on any new drinks?

We are always working on new ideas and techniques. In this industry, you never stop developing skills and exploring new ideas.

What haven’t you been able to live without?

My team. We are like a family, and Darkside wouldn’t be what it is without them.

How have you been staying sane?

Spending quality time with my kids and family, doing puzzles, watching documentaries, studying history, practicing martial arts and exercising regularly to keep my body healthy.

What have you missed the most since the bars have closed? 

Connecting with guests and being surrounded by a great atmosphere and vibe. I missed the days when the room was full of guests, enjoying themselves with a cocktail and live music.

Jay Khan, COA

What’s your go-to quarantine cocktail?

Mexcal and tonic. It’s simple, complex, refreshing.

Have you found any new hobbies?

Astronomy! My kid got me into it. We have our own telescope now and every week we go star gazing and follow the celestial news – don’t miss the Perseid Meteor Shower on Aug 13 around 5am.

Are you working on any new drinks?

Always!

What have you missed the most since the bars have closed? 

Humans! The Mezcal conversations with my guest and the energy of a busy bar night.

How have you been staying sane without customers?

Well, we have a few new things in the loop, like collaboration cocktails and our new e-commerce. I’m keeping myself busy all the time. I have been reading a lot, too, and yes – lots of Zoom.

Agung Prabowo, The Old Man

What’s your go-to quarantine cocktail?

None, it’s a dry month.

Have you found any new hobbies?

Yes, I am cooking and hiking.

Are you working on any new drinks?

We are actually developing our new cocktail menu and are ready for when the bar reopens – we can’t wait!

What haven’t you been able to live without?

My phone.

Cocktail delivery has taken off – is it something you want to keep doing in the future?

I’m not sure, it is confusing. A few days ago, a cop came to The Old Man and was challenging us about our delivery.

What have you missed the most since the bars have closed?  

Having shots with our guests.

How have you been staying sane?

Running in Victoria Park every morning.

More from our Lockdown Diaries series:

In this Story: #culture / dining