Hong Kong’s coolest female bartender spills about her favourite drinks and why she loves her job.
Heidi Hou has been obsessed with mixology since she first got herself behind a bar, 14 years ago. Since then, she’s shaken things up at some of Hong Kong’s favourite spots, like Armani Bar, Honi Honi and Hunter & The Chase. Hou is passionate about her craft and is constantly looking for ways to challenge and improve herself, experimenting with exotic flavourings and competing against industry greats at competitions. In 2016, she came in Top 40 at the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year Competition, and won the prestigious speed mixing challenge.
Today, you can find her mixing cocktails at Hong Kong’s newest highball cocktail bar, The ThirtySix Bar & Co. Read on to find out more about this month’s Lan Kwai Fong #BarStar.
What inspired you to become a bartender?
The act of mixing things simply fascinated me. I still remember the first time I worked at a restaurant 14 years ago, I was so drawn to mixing things, even just preparing a coffee. The manager noticed I couldn’t keep my hands off the bar and felt I was more talented behind it than waitressing or in the kitchen. Fast forward to 2019, and I am still deeply in love with what I do.
What’s the menu like at The ThirtySix Bar & Co?
Instead of creating new cocktails, we prefer to elevate and innovate the classics with new techniques and extra elements that bring out certain notes previously not in the original recipe. Most of our cocktails are inspired by either the origin and story behind the original or from the history of the spirit used.
Read more: The ThirtySix Bar & Co Opens
What are you most excited to share with guests at The ThirtySix Bar?
How and why we present the highballs the way we do. Watching the preparation of highballs is like witnessing an important ritual in mixology, from achieving 100% clarity in our ice (we set the water to a specific pH to achieve this) to fanning the ice prior to pouring any spirits into the glass – there is meaning to every action. We welcome customers to ask us more about the preparation process.
Do you have a favourite cocktail to drink?
Instead of a cocktail, I prefer retreating to a nice whisky soda after work, or a whisky or gin on the rocks.
What are your favourite cocktails to make?
Any cocktail made with a spirit of rich history and origin. Just knowing the fascinating information behind the spirit is enough to energise and excite me.
What’s the best piece of work advice you’ve ever received?
Stay attentive and not just focused on the cocktail you’re preparing, be mindful not just at the situation at the bar, but beyond the bar towards the dining area.
What do you wish more people knew about bartenders?
Female bartenders are just as tough as men when it comes to working behind the bar. At many bars I’ve worked at in the past, other co-workers or managers tended to perceive me as too vulnerable, emotional or in need of treading lightly around so avoid directly commenting on our work, in turn it was quite difficult for me to improve as fast.
Read more: Best Bar Terraces in Hong Kong
What do you love most about your job?
I love that my job is also my passion. Whether my cocktails relieved a customer’s night after a hard day’s work or simply because they enjoyed it, a simple smile on their face is enough to make my night.
How can we make a bartender our best friend?
Be honest. Whether you enjoyed the cocktail or not, or the life stories you’re sharing, speak to us directly and truthfully and we will warm up to you instantly.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
I think it’s crazy that people are still happily chatting with the bartender, and not on their phones. Especially now when people are on their phones even when hanging out with friends, I hardly see that at our bar – that amazes me.
The ThirtySix Bar & Co
2/F 23 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2336 4498
All photos are the rights of their respective owners.