When it opened last year at The Langham in Hong Kong, the Artesian bar was an instant classic on the city’s drinking scene, in part because of its note-taking from the Artesian at the Langham flagship in London, which has repeatedly been named as the world’s best bar, and in part thanks to its manager, Nepalese mixologist Rajendra “Rush” Limbu. Here, he tells how he’s given things a Chinese twist. –Gabrielle Lipton
Cocktails first attracted me because of their similarities to art in the way they’re inspired by colors, textures, style, and presentation.
Artesian is a whiskey bar, and we carry more than 50 types of bourbon including new varieties from Japan and Taiwan. We also have 34 kinds of gin and an extensive rum selection.
I use flavors and ingredients that reflect Chinese heritage and culture. Lavender and violet liqueurs make the Liquid Bouquet aromatic, and for The Langham, spiced bourbon is mixed with goji berries, which are popular in Hong Kong for their health benefits.
I love improvising cocktails for guests and watching their reactions. I recently made a tom yum–flavored cocktail for a customer from Thailand, and some of my regulars bring me unique spirits from their travels that I then use to make personalized drinks. One was with a vodka from Mongolia.
My own travels include a cocktail tour to all the Langham hotels in China, standard- izing their menus and training the staff on my creations, such as how to properly infuse gin with tea for the Jasmine Tea Sour. I hope one day to visit more spirit houses in Europe, as I think it would help me grow as an artist.
This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Mix Master”)