Devender Kumar is the Bar Manager at 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong. He makes us two cocktails, one with Gin and Cocchi Barolo Chinato and the second with Bacardi and Basil.
Devender introduce yourself
My name is Devender, I’m from New Delhi in India and I’ve been bartending for the past 12 years. I left school at 14 to become a mechanic, but I didn’t enjoy it, so my Mum suggested I learnt flair bartending after we watched it on a tv programme. I was studying/training at a school for flair and got my break when my cousin asked me to help him behind the bar at an incredible wedding. That was it for me, so I joined IBOM where I kept training until I was sent on my first overseas trip to Singapore. After that, I knew if I wanted to pursue my dream I needed to improve my English, so in all our classes I insisted we all speak English and after hours would meet my Uncle for grammar lessons. I entered a flair competition and placed 5th in the world with led me to work in bars in Sri Lanka, Delhi and Mumbai. I was offered the role as Bar Manager at 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong in 2013 and have been here ever since where I won the Bacardi legacy for Hong Kong and Macao.
The classic you want to show us
30ml of Citadelle Gin
30ml of Campari
30ml of Antica Formula
20 of Cocchi Barolo Chinato
4 dashes of Orange Bitters
4 dashes of Grapefruit Bitters
The bar you dream of
There is a bar in Lyon called L’Atelier and I’d love a place similar to that. My bar would be small with no more than 30 covers in New York or London. It would have a classic feel and I’d serve small plates of Indian food to accompany the drinks. I’d also like to open a bar school in India to give kids that can’t travel the same opportunities I’ve had.
What do you do in your time off
I’ve started drumming classes, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I also study poetry and travel whenever I get the chance. I like to do things that are completely separate from the industry, so I can talk to my guests about more than just cocktails.
The spirit you like the most
I like gin because of its versatility. They all have different botanicals and flavours that can completely change a drink. There are so many small boutique distilleries that are really exciting at the moment and are producing wonderful gins, like Four Pillars.
What makes a good cocktail
If a cocktail brings a smile to your face, it’s a good drink. You also need to understand the ingredients and their role in the cocktail.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
I enjoy using honey because it adds sweetness and flavour at the same time. From manuka to acacia, the honey I choose can completely change a drink.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
60ml of Bacardi Superior
10ml of Ginger Syrup
10ml of Honey Water
22.5ml of Lime Juice
A hand full of Basil
Glass rinsed with Yellow Chartreuse
5 drops of Orange Bitters
5 drops of Grapefruit Bitters
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
Here in Hong Kong, you must go to COA, The Old Man, Stockton and Mizunara: The Library. I also highly recommend Mint Gun Club in London and Perch in India.