At Campari and Imbibe’s annual Negroni Week 2021, Hong Kong bars took advantage of reduced Covid-19 restrictions to welcome visitors to raise a Negroni for charity. Hive Life caught up with local bars COA and Apothecary about their work in the community and their unique Negroni creations this year.
For the ninth year in a row, Campari and Imbibe Magazine hosted Negroni Week, a celebration of the iconic Negroni cocktail and opportunity for bartenders, bars, and the community to come together for a good cause. F&B brands reinvent the classic Negroni in their own unique fusion interpretations while donating profits to a vast range of charities. We spoke to Austen Lendrum the Co-founder and Operations Manager and Joe Wong, the Senior Mixologist of Apothecary and Jay Khan, the Co-founder of COA about their participation in Negroni Week 2021, September 13th to 19th.
Just opening in June this year, Apothecary gains inspiration from its name’s origins- an old pharmaceutical shop where you would buy ingredients to create medicine, tonics, or elixirs- focusing on herbs and spices, and the extraction of flavours in their signature cocktails. Coming from a pastry and F&B background, Joe offers a unique angle to the cocktails he creates as the Senior Mixologist at Apothecary, hosting a seasonal menu of unique botanical infusion cocktails in a menu aptly named “The Herbalist’s Notebook.”
For Negroni Week 2021, Apothecary drew inspiration for their concept from the Aztec people who would add chilli to their chocolate, using cacao butter and sichuan pepper to bring out spice and a hint of creamy chocolate in their Negroni fusion cocktail. Through familiar flavours like the sichuan pepper, an extra layer of sourness complements the Campari, and the sweetness of the red vermouth cancels out hard spice. To further mellow out the spice, cacao butter smooths out the cocktail.
This year, Apothecary raised funds for No Kid Hungry, every $20 of proceeds going towards the charity. Giving back has always been close to heart for Austen, his father also co-founding a charity and growing up helping people in need.
“Negroni Week is an amazing opportunity to make people aware that you can drink for a good cause. I do hope that all bars, can make it not just a Negroni Week thing, and actually if they could put proceeds every month, or every week, to some sort of charity, and just be more giving. Just be friendly and put out a hand to [help] people, Austen shared.
COA started as a passion project for Jay, coming from an extensive F&B background he decided to go to Mexico to learn and explore Mexican spirits, and was inspired to bring that experience, and agave spirits, back to Hong Kong. COA works to engage the community to learn about agave spirits- mezcal and tequila- and their origins while giving back through their biweekly masterclass Mezcal Mission where all profits are donated to Habitat for Humanity. Jay also encourages everyone at COA to interact with guests and educate them about mezcal and tequila.
Every year since its founding in 2017, COA has taken part in Negroni Week, creating a new twist on the Negroni each time. For Negroni Week 2021, they designed the Poblano Negroni, “poblano” being the name of a Mexican chilli. The base of the Negroni is mezcal, and they added a touch of Mexican chilli to give it a flair and to incorporate Mexican flavours into it. The cocktail is smoky, and has a bit of heat towards the end, which is enjoyable for people who love savoury or spicy flavours.
This year, COA is donating to The Fred Hollows Foundation, a nonprofit which helps visually impaired children.
“Negroni Week is a great initiative that really binds the community together and also keeps us aware of what’s happening around. Negroni Week is also something that really gets you to understand what charities are available out there as well [and] is good awareness for everybody,” Jay commented.
COA will be opening a new venue in Shanghai in October. Mezcal Mission occurs biweekly on Mondays for an educational and agave spirits tasting session, with 100% of proceeds being donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Apothecary will be collaborating with London Essence over the next two weeks with a mini menu and food pairing, closing off with a guest shift and party on the 2nd of October. On the 21st of October Joe will also be hosting a guest shift at Whiskey & Words in collaboration with Glenmorangie’s new whiskey “Glenmorangie X.”
Featured banner image: coa.com.hk