How did you come up with your winning drink?
So, when I first read over the rules, they were saying that you had to be inspired by ‘Tales of two cities’, whether that would be where we live or a place which inspires or is important to us. So, I decided the first one would be London, where I work. And for the other one, I instantly thought about Hong Kong, where I was born & raised – raised also as a bartender.
I wanted to find something which would include memories from the childhood, in both countries, something that would cheer people up, as well as would represent Hong Kong. And actually most local people, when they are away, miss the Milk Tea. So I decided to work with it, along with Rhubarb & Custard, as the milk could work with both.
So I started breaking down the ingredients, as they sounded fun to work with. I wanted to create something around sustainability, & utilising food waste. I hate throwing stuff away. So why not doing something that is useful, that makes a loop in the process? So I came up with the idea of making a Rhubarb syrup, using leftovers of the sparkling wine that is used behind the bar everyday. I took the Rhubarb to pickle and use it as a garnish. It woulb then be used to start the milk washing process, to clarify the drink.
And I was looking at the cocktails that came from London, and a big influence to me is Ada Coleman, from The Savoy Hotel, who created the Hanky Panky, which is one of my favourite drinks. This style of drink, with the bittersweet touch, was how I wanted the final drink, with the feel of a milk punch.
Why do you think Rising stars & competitions like it are important?
To us, Bartenders, practically speaking, competitions like Rising Stars are a platform to show what you can do. Not just to the people around you, not just colleagues & guests in your bar or family. The competition conditions often give us different inspirations, for example different required components that actually push us to do better.
These conditions help inspire us to see what we can actually do for ourselves, and what kind of drinks we can come up with. In Rising stars, the sustainability aspect was the big element. This helps to push ourselves to come up with a drink that we will really like, that other people also will like, and show what we can do as Bartenders, to a wider audience.
What is your current job, and how did you get there?
I am now Head Bartender for the Bourbon Bar at JW Marriott Grosvenor House hotel in London.
I’ve been working in the industry for 12 years now, and JW Marriott is where I started in the first place. I started working for them through an internship in school, in Hong Kong. That’s where I started to learn how to work behind a bar, where I gained a lot of my initial knowledge. Then I spent some time learning in other restaurant & bars around Hong Kong. Seeing how different cocktails bars work, and learning different skills.
Since then, I moved to London, where I worked in some really cool cocktail bars like Milk & Honey and Mezcaleria. This was like going to school again. It taught me a lot about Classic Cocktails, how different types of ingredients can work with each other, especially local ingredients. This built me up to how I make drinks now. At that point, I decided to go back to where I started, so I joined Marriott again, and I am now happily working as a bartender building my own menus and concepts.
What’s the next step for your life or career?
For now I want to stay in Marriott and work my way up the ladder. I want to be like a Food & Beverage Manager, I want to learn more about some of the other elements of the Restaurant & Bars, about how to help people work together well, so the team & guests enjoy their time. But my ultimate goal is to open my own place, so that I can create a comfortable place for friends, which would make them feel like family. To help them enjoy a good time together. That would be my ultimate retirement plan!