From balancing flavours to harmonising textures, mixing up a cocktail is no easy task. We sat down with Privé Group mixologist Paul Magar to get a few simple bartending tips that anyone can learn in just a few minutes.

When to shake and when to stir?

Not sure when to shake or stir? Shaking is a technique that introduces air bubbles into a drink – when this is done with fruit juices, it results in an airier texture with a slightly frothy appearance. It is also a technique commonly used in drinks using egg white, as when shaken, it gives the beverage a light and foamy body.

On the other hand, drinks comprised of all alcoholic ingredients, such as a martini, should be stirred to maintain the visual clarity of the drink.  Also, beverages containing sodas, such as a gin and tonic or whisky soda, should be poured and then stirred. Shaking a carbonated drink results in a loss of air bubbles and reduces the quality of the final product.

Caña Sarapan

The foamy texture, due to the use of egg white and citrus juice, is evident in I Know John’s Caña Sarapan


Ice is a key component of most drinks. As it melts, it opens up the flavours in a cocktail. Be careful, though, as you don’t want your drink to be too watered down. A simple way to control the dilution is by using bigger ice cubes but less of them – the reduced overall surface area means they’ll melt more slowly, giving you more time to enjoy your concoction.

Remember, it is imperative to make fresh ice, as ice that has been sitting in your freezer for too long may start to pick up smells and tastes of other items in the vicinity.

Creatively rim your glassware

Rimming glassware is a technique that is well known but nowhere near used commonly enough. Not only does rimming your glassware make your drink more attractive, but it also adds another dimension of flavour to your creation. The most efficient way to do this is by moistening the edge of the glass with a lime wedge and then dipping the rim into a plate of whatever you are coating it with. It doesn’t have to be plain sugar or salt either. For example, in an apple-based drink, you can have a cinnamon-sugar coating. Popping candy also makes for an exciting coating.

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Assembly’s Sugar Daddy is rimmed with a simple sugar coating

Start by pouring your mixers

Any budding bartender is bound to make mistakes whilst experimenting, so the best way to cut this inevitable loss is to pour your mixers first. It is much cheaper to throw out a few ounces of poorly mixed juices and sodas than premium liquors. The general rule of thumb is to add ingredients from the cheapest to the most expensive.

Paul Magar is one of Hong Kong’s elite modern mixologists. Having previously worked at top Hong Kong bars such as Lily & Bloom, Paul has been working alongside Max Gurung at Privé Group since 2013. He tirelessly creates unique concoctions for Common Room, Bungalow, AMAZAKE, Assembly and Privé Group’s newest addition, I Know John.

Creating and delivering memorable experiences in both nightlife and dining.

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