After three years of making a splash on Asia's cocktail scene, renowned mixologist Agung Prabowo says goodbye to celebrated bar The Old Man – regarded as one of the best in the industry, ranking high on the World’s and Asia’s 50 Best Bars lists for the past consecutive years. October 1 marks the first day Agung will no longer head the bar, "Things change, and it’s time to move on to work on new projects, filling niches in our great cocktail scene, as a consultant," Agung shares. Nikita Matveev – former head bartender at Kerry Hotel and assistant bar manager at Soho House – will take over the operations at The Old Man. "We hope Nikita will keep our baby in good hands and continue the successes of The Old Man," Agung shares. "With Nikita on board, I want the legacy to continue and hope to see the bar thrive for many years to come," he adds.
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Nikita Matveev and Agung Prabowo
The two new bars set to open in Central this autumn will see The Old Man's founders Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale team up once again, but this time they will let their wives Laura Prabowo and Katy Ghale take the reins. "Roman and I will be taking more of a consulting role," Agung explains. "Laura will be in charge of daily operations and Roman’s wife Katy will work behind the scenes."
Penicillin, the first bar set to open by mid-October, will be taking up 1520sq ft space of the former Buddha Lounge on Hollywood Road and is gearing up to be Hong Kong's first eco-conscious bar. "The concept is Hong Kong’s first eco-conscious bar focusing on the lab, bar, kitchen, and a fermentation room," Agung explains. "We will be recycling and upcycling every ingredient as much as possible to create a closed-loop concept." The bar aims to find new uses for scrap ingredients that would typically end up in the trash which will then be turned to soaps, sanitisers, and other upcycled by-products.
The name is a nod to the modern classic cocktail, Penicillin (made with honey, lemon, ginger, a strong dose of Scotch, and a splash of smoky Islay whisky) and the antibiotic in which the cocktail got its name – the Penicillin, an antibiotic derived from Penicillium mould. The bar's cocktail menu is still to be unveiled, but by the sound of it, we may expect riffs of the Penicillin cocktail and drinks with an eco-friendly twist that will not only cure any cocktail fix but hopefully the bar industry's quandaries on sustainability.
The other bar, Dead &, is a dive bar set to open in November and will take up a 500sq ft space at the end of Wo On Lane in Lan Kwai Fong. "The name is pronounced dead end," Agung explains. "We will be bringing a casual concept to Lan Kwai Fong with affordable drinks, beers, and a party vibe that can spill out onto the streets of LKF and to the amphitheatre next door.” The bar aims to compete with 'club 7-Eleven' more than the bars in the surrounding area as cheap booze is good at attracting hordes of Hongkongers to LKF. Agung adds that the place will have an energetic atmosphere with fun and friendly staff who will make the place as 'crazy' as they can.
The pandemic has been devastating to the restaurant and bar industry, and a few notable Hong Kong bars have closed as a consequence, but fortunately, many have managed to weather the storm. Staying positive, Agung remains optimistic that the bar industry can survive the ordeal. "I think the future is very bright. Hong Kong has had a tough year, but even before that, openings had slowed down. Now it seems places are popping up more than ever so we wish our fellow bar owners all the best and can’t wait to see many more neighbours popping up!" he enthuses. "I think it’s a good time [to open a new bar] as people are stuck here and maybe looking for something new."
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