If you intend to theme a bar after Ernest Hemingway, arguably history’s preeminent imbiber, you need to be sure that you can do it well. Last night, in front of a crowd of 600 global drinks experts and bartenders, Hong Kong’s The Old Man was crowned The Best Bar in Asia 2019 and cemented itself as a hostelry that Papa would be proud of.
In 2017, Agung Prabowo, James Tamang and Roman Ghale – three of Asia’s most decorated bartenders – plotted to create a bar that did the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist justice. Rising to the top of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list just 18 months after opening, they succeeded in their mission.
“It’s just a dream come true for us,” said Prabowo in the press conference immediately after the ceremony. “It’s still sinking in and it's hard to put into words how much this means to me. I’ve not been drinking alcohol for a month in preparation for these awards, but tonight, I’m going to enjoy myself.”
Prabowo heads to the stage to collect The Old Man's trophy
The 25-seat speakeasy in the Soho district of Hong Kong owes much of its menu to Hemingway novels, with each drink served with a side-serving of history. “It’s our service where we try to make a real difference,” explains Prabowo. “With so few guests, it really needs to be perfect and we explain to the guests the thought process behind each drink's conception. Each is a labour of love.”
And would Hemingway himself have enjoyed a libation here? “I’d certainly like to think so!” laughs Prabowo. “I think that he would appreciate the way that we mix classic drinks with modern techniques – and I would happily make him a daiquiri.”
Last month also saw the team open a slightly larger incarnation of The Old Man on Singapore’s Saik Road. “Hopefully the new Old Man will be as successful as the old Old Man in Hong Kong. Our plan is to do our best to make it onto the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list next year.” And with Prabowo at the helm, we think there’s a good chance the team will do just that.
Now visit the Asia's 50 Best Bars website to discover the full list and watch the video of the list in pictures:
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