John Ng has risen to be one of the stars of the burgeoning Hong Kong cocktail scene at the bustling MO Bar, Hong Kong. John moved to Switzerland and spent time in the U.S Â to study Hospitality Management where he first became interested in making cocktails before returning to Hong Kong.Â
Â After his return toÂ Hong Kong, he joined The Landmark Mandarin Oriental to work in the fine dining 2 Michelin Starred restaurant, Amber. However, as his cocktail making skills became apparent, he was transferred to MO Bar, to join the mixology team there. He quickly became a firm favorite with customers and was promoted to Bar Captain in 2010. He often represents the hotel inÂ cocktail competitions and in recent years, has placed 5thÂ in the Asian Cocktail Championships inÂ MacauÂ and came in the top 10 in De Kuyper Cup Hong Kong.Â Â
Passionate about cocktails, John spends his spare time creating new cocktails which take into account his Asian heritage. Some of his signature cocktails such as Taste of Life, Asian Mind and MOtox can be found in MO Bar.
We caught up with John to talk about Rum as Denizen has recently found its way to Hong Kong and onto MO Bar’s fantastic cocktail menu.
Whatâ€™s your story? How did you get so interested in cocktails?
My background is a little complicated. I grew up in Hong Kong, studied in Switzerland, and worked in both Asia and the US. I started learning how to mix cocktails when I was working at a resort in Virginia. The people were so friendly there; they started teaching me how to make drinks while I was working there (I was 18 and not supposed to work inside the bar until 21 â€“ of course I didnâ€™t serve any of the drinks as I was underaged!). I was inspired by those bartenders who took the time to teach me even though I could not help them during service. Since then, Iâ€™ve been self-educating through books and trial and error.
What compelled you to become a bartender? (I mean, there are other ways to make a living.)
I love interacting with customers and finding out what they like and then making that perfect drink which has never been tried before. The smile on their faces makes it all worth while! I also enjoy the way mixology is constantly evolving which keeps it interesting.
What differentiates MO barÂ from other cocktail bars?
MO Bar is a hotel bar located in the heart of Central. Although the bar is always busy, we strive to consistently raise the bar on the standard of our cocktails and also to stay ahead of the trends. Every year, we hold a cocktail event called â€śMasters of Mixologyâ€ť where we bring some of the best mixologists from around the world to showcase new cocktails, techniques and trends in the bar.
Why do you think rum is enjoying such a renaissance?
Rum is a complex spirit that contains a lot of flavors so it has the ability to add a lot of depth to a cocktail.
What are a great easy rum drink people can make at home?
Cuba Libra. Golden rum with muddled lime and Coca Cola.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one rum drink, what would it be?
A rum punch. Punch style cocktails contain more juices. At least then you can stay alive that little bit longer.
Whoâ€™s the most liberated spirit you know (past or present)? Who has lived life the most freely?
My grandfather. He was a first generation engineer in Hong Kong during the 60s and he really lived life to the fullest, doing whatever he wanted to. No dream was too big.