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Time Out Hong Kong Bar Awards

Meet the bartenders participating at the TOHK Bar Awards 2018

Raise a glass to Hong Kong’s best bars with drinks courtesy of these master mixologists

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s drinks scene is raising the bar. This December we’re celebrating the best in the industry at our Bar Awards 2018. Not only are we recognising the awesome bar talent in our city, we’re getting them involved too! As part of the celebrations, four of Hong Kong’s best bartenders are doing special guest shifts at The Pawn and mixing custom creations for one night only. Read on to discover the bartenders who’ll be shaking up a storm on December 5.

Meet the Bartenders

Antonio Lai
  • Bars and pubs

Executive mixologist, Room 309, Quinary, Origin and The Envoy, co-owner VEA Restaurant & Lounge.

Hong Kong’s master mixologist, Antonio Lai has been shaking things up for more than 20 years. He quit school at 16 and straightaway entered the hospitality industry. Having worked all over the world – Lai’s training took him to Malaysia, Singapore, mainland China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK – Lai finally got the opportunity to put his acquired knowledge of ‘multisensory mixology’ to the test and opened 
Quinary, on Hollywood Road, in 2012. An immediate success, Quinary revolutionised the local bar scene and has become a fixture on the World’s Best Bars list. OriginThe Envoy and the bar component of Michelin-starred restaurant VEA Restaurant and Lounge followed in subsequent years, each earning their own share of accolades. Here in 2018, Lai recently opened Room 309, a near flawless experience demonstrating that Lai remains at the forefront of his profession.

  • Bars and pubs

Co-founder and co-owner, The Old Man.

Originally from Jakarta, Agung Prabowo is, like Antonio Lai, another lifelong mixologist. At age 18 he got started in the drinks industry, and moved to Hong Kong in 2006 in order to take his career to the next level. Thanks to his considerable talent, Prabowo has worked in a number of Hong Kong’s most prestigious bars including the Island Shangri-La’s Lobster Bar (considered the best bar in Hong Kong for a period), MO BarLily & Bloom and W Hong Kong. Yet Prabowo’s greatest achievement is his most recent – The Old Man. Founded alongside James Tamang and Roman Ghale (other veterans of the city’s luxury hotel hospitality scene), the Hemingway-themed joint landed in the top 10 of this year’s World’s Best Bars list. Currently at the height of his powers, you won’t want to miss what Prabowo concocts especially for our Bar Awards.

  • Bars and pubs

Senior bartender, Bar De Luxe.

A young talent about to enter the big time, Ivin Hui has been tasked with continuing the exemplary standards at Bar De Luxe. Until recently, the bar was headed by Yuriko Naganuma, a protégé of Hidetsugu Ueno, of Tokyo’s acclaimed Bar High Five, but she returned to Japan after more than 18 months here in Hong Kong at the end of October. That leaves Hui with a lot to live up to. Still, having worked alongside master mixologists like Masayuki Uchida – Hui originally apprenticed at Butler, in Tsim Sha Tsui – and having recently returned from a stint in Japan under the watchful eye of Ueno himself, we believe Hui has all the tools required to rise to the task. Get a glimpse of one of the future stars of the local bar scene at our Bar Awards on December 5.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Causeway Bay

Bar manager, John Anthony

The time is now for Amir Javaid. Formerly bar manager at VEA Restaurant and Lounge, the young Mancunian has just taken the reigns at the bar at John Anthony. JA’s huge collection of some 400 gins should be put to good use by 
this man, who’s worked with award-winning gin brands like Martin Miller’s and Three Rivers. Above all, it’s an exciting move since it allows Javaid the chance to emerge from the shadow of Antonio Lai, the man behind the A in VEA. A consistently inventive bartender and this year’s La Maison Cointreau champion, we can’t wait to see what he has planned for his new digs in Lee Gardens, where he'll be working closely with assistant bar manager Marcus Chan. See for yourself what he’s all about at our Bar Awards.

And there’s more...

As well as the custom cocktails made by the above four master mixologists, there are other drinks guests can look forward to. The crew at The Pawn are preparing something special to ensure they’re not overshadowed on their home turf and sponsors Maximal Concepts are drafting in bartenders from the likes of Stockton, The Flying Elk and John Anthony to show what they’re capable of too. And if you feel like you’ve had enough cocktails, Stella Artois will be providing free-flow beer all evening long, so you’ll never need to worry about being thirsty.

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