Bar culture in China
How did you become a bartender Kelvin?
I worked for ten years in bars and cafés serving drinks mostly. It’s only since 2012 that I’m doing crafted cocktails. At that time, I met my master who taught me the art of cocktail. Then in 2014 I opened my own bar consultancy “Labudio” with the intention of promoting the bar culture in Guangzhou.
What is the philosophy behind “Sip Till Morning”?
At “STM” we only provide cocktails and spirits. About the concept: we found our inspiration in the bar trend called “Speakeasy”, which originally comes from the period of Prohibition (1919-1933). During that time, the sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the USA. Following this idea, “STM” works very much like a hidden bar. It can’t be found easily unless you know it!
What kind of customers do you get?
We attract anyone who enjoys cocktails. People know what they need and come straight for the cocktails or for the bartenders – we’ve got some of the best here! Chinese are getting richer and standards are getting higher. They want to have the new and expensive stuff. Many of our customers will go for Hennessy cognac because it’s more tasteful and high-class.
How is Hennessy perceived in Guangzhou?
Hennessy has been working hard and is doing very well in China. They have the best sells of cognac makers in southern China. I even found records in books dating from the early 20th century where Hennessy is mentioned for cocktail recipe! This shows how well rooted the brand is in China. Nowadays, people definitely know the brand and see it as a luxury product they want to possess, very much like buying a luxury car.
How would you qualify the nightlife in Guangzhou?
It’s quite different from Shanghai or Beijing. These cities are perhaps more mature but Guangzhou people love going out at night. They enjoy having midnight suppers and heading out to bars and nightclubs. I visited more than 70 cities in China in my life and I can tell you there is no better nightlife than in Guangzhou!
To finish, can you share with us your secret for making great cocktails?
Cocktail is an art of blending. No matter which spirit you use, you have to preserve the original taste of the base. The rest is just about improving the base to create a great drink. When using Hennessy as a cocktail base, you have to provide the whole structure of the cognac: it’s ginger, spicy flavor and the mineral taste. In the art of cocktail, balance is the key thing.