The term mixologist isn’t new in the history of cocktails, dating back to as early as the 19th century. The key challenge of the role, however, is to constantly explore new elements with which to create refreshing and exciting cocktails, from combining liqueurs and syrups to experimenting with memorable ways of presentation.
Today, we sit down with I Know John’s new mixologist, Binay Thapa, to learn how he stays on top of his game.
Mushroom Flip, made with mushroom-infused gin, egg yolk, lemon, coriander, mushroom bacon (I Know John)
What inspires you to use unique ingredients and how do customers react?
Fruits or fruit syrups have been the major choices for classic cocktails like margaritas and mojitos, but I personally prefer ingredients that are non-sugary and stand out. I am inspired everyday through my passion for cooking and being health conscious. The newly launched cocktail menu at I Know John reflects this. I use unconventional ingredients such as activated coconut charcoal, mushrooms and avocado. However, I still stick to traditional techniques to bring out the best in these ingredients, such as infusing them to create a variety of homemade liqueurs and experimenting with different combinations.
Let’s Salsa, made with Ocho Blanco tequila, avocado, coriander, lime, Himalayan pink salt (I Know John)
What makes you and your creations one of a kind given the competitive nature of this business?
There are so many award-winning mixologists and bars in Hong Kong, but the key is to know your customers. Bonding with your customers and understanding their preferences are as essential as experimentation and techniques.
Who is your mixology hero?
Lok Gurung of Maximal Concepts is one of the most talented mixologists in Hong Kong. He began his career when he was only 18, and his creative take on cocktails and sophisticated bartending techniques make him a distinctive star. His patience and humble personality set him apart – he is a true example and inspiration for budding mixologists.
My next inspiration is working with vinegar and colour change through the manipulation of acidity levels!
Binay Thapa is the new mixologist at I Know John. He left London for the attractive nightlife of Hong Kong and decided to pursue his profession here. After working at cult favourite bar and restaurant Foxglove and established F&B group Maximal Concepts, he joined Privé Group and the team at I Know John, making his cocktail menu debut in February 2017.