Samuel Kwok is the Bar Manager at Quinary in Hong Kong. He makes us two cocktails, one with Whisky and Fernet and the second with Gin and Limoncello.
Samuel Kwok introduce yourself
My name is Samuel Kwok, I started bartending when I was 19 and I’ve been a bartender for the last 13 years. When I started in the industry, people were just drinking alcohol to get drunk, so the role was more about social skills than technique. When cocktails became more popular, I saw that there was a real opportunity in the industry. You can make people happy, but at the same time you can be admired you for what you create and craft. Cocktails are just like dishes in a restaurant, you are a liquid chef. People should be able to feel different layers, textures and flavours in a drink. The difference is that in a restaurant you have different dishes where you can impress a client (entree, main, dessert), but with a cocktail you have one chance and then they’ll decide if they’d like to try more. This means you have to work hard not only on the taste, but also on the presentation and garnish. I joined Quinary more than 5 years ago and we work very hard on all these areas which I find really rewarding.
The classic you want to show us
45ml of Michter’s Whiskey
15ml of Cynar
20ml of Punt e Mes
7.5ml of Campari
5 dashes of Fernet Branca
The bar you dream of
My dream bar would be a speakeasy with 30-40 seats hidden behind a tattoo shop. The cocktails would be classics and I’d also serve small cold dishes to nibble. The interior design would feature a lot of wood and leather with animal heads on the walls and the music played in the bar would be classical.
What do you do in your time off
I do exercise before work and I don’t tend to go out a lot.
The spirit you like the most
I like American whiskey, like bourbon or rye. With bourbon you have the fruitiness, which you can push in a cocktail. My preferred brand is Michter’s and I love to use it in a boulevardier, which is my favourite cocktail.
What makes a good cocktail
I think a good cocktail is about balance, but even more important is dilution. Even one or two seconds difference can really change the flavour and quality of a cocktail.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
I enjoy using Fernet Branca. It’s fun to use and I like the bitterness.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
Lavender Meringue Pie
45ml of Limoncello
20ml of Gin infused with Lavender
10ml of Simple Syrup
10ml of Egg White
30ml of Lemon Juice
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
You need to go and meet my mentor, Marian Beke at Gibson Bar. In Moscow check out Mitzvabar, a Jewish concept bar, where their focus is on precision and details like a classic Japanese bar.