Located in prime party territory, the gorgeously designed 208 Duocento Otto on Hollywood Road is known for its chic interiors and appetising modern Italian cuisine. James Barker, group bar specialist of the JIA Group, reinvented 208’s beverage menu to focus on the rustic Italian aperitivo style where diners are encouraged to enjoy cocktails before, during, and after a meal. Bitter and sweet go hand-in-hand in his drinks which mainly feature vermouth (fortified wine aromatized with botanicals) and amaro (liqueurs made with botanicals, herbs and spices). Barker started his bartending career in London before moving to Malaysia and now Hong Kong. He was recently crowned Hong Kong and Macau Bartender of the Year at the 2016 Diageo RESERVE World Class Competition. If you can’t get enough of Barker’s creations, head over to the Commissary at Pacific Place for a wind down or afternoon tea, and sample the cold brew Kombucha, a naturally fermented tea drink served chilled.
The aptly called Back Bar is Wanchai’s latest hidden gem. Its bar specialist Ryan Nightingale learned the basics of mixing cocktails from a university pub while studying—working in kitchens during the day and bussing tables at night. He draws on his vast experience in Canada and the United Kingdom to give city revelers a heady mix of contemporary cocktails. Nightingle likes to experiment regularly on ingredients and changes the menu all the time. Some of his witty concoctions include Mission Ginpossible, There’s Something About Sherry, and The Full Malty. Nightingale has been stirring the Hong Kong bar scene with his creations, and the latest cherry on top of his winning streak is the Chivas Masters Hong Kong 2017 title.
Coming from a family of hospitality professionals, Tom Egerton of Potato Head in Sai Ying Pun sure knows how to go the extra mile. He has spent the better part of a decade traveling around the world and honing his expertise. These days at work he happily wears his more laid-back tropical style shirt, which gives away the type of drinks party-goers can ask for. Egerton says his cocktails at their heart provide escapism, creating a feeling of relaxation—a style he fondly calls “casual excellence”. He takes pride in tailoring his service to his guests and surroundings, and delivering an experience that aligns with the bar’s identity. Egerton is a big fan of food and drink writer Charles H. Baker, which is why his personal favourite drink is the Pegu Club, a combo of Old Tom gin line, curaçao, and bitters.