Starting out as a humble barback, Hungarian Balazs Molnar was lucky enough to work alongside some of the world’s best bartenders at London’s Artesian. Molnar now plies his trade at Hong Kong’s Lobster Bar, recently named in the 2016 World’s 50 Best Bars list, and took a few minutes to chat with Drinks World about the transition and what he’s been up to.
Drinks World: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in the industry?
Balazs Molnar: I was born in Budapest, Hungary. After I finished university in 2013 in Hungary, I started to travel. After a short stop in Spain and a short stop in France, I decided to move to London and learn everything that’s necessary to become a professional bartender. When I arrived in London, I looked for barback jobs in London and I found online that the famous Artesian Bar was looking for a
When I arrived in London, I looked for barback jobs in London and I found online that the famous Artesian Bar was looking for a barback. After two months in London, I was lucky enough to get an opportunity in Artesian Bar, and I spent almost two years there working and learning.
DW: You’ve made the move from London over to Hong Kong, what was your motivation to move to Hong Kong?
BM: After we all left Artesian, everybody was looking for new challenges and opportunities. I wanted to continue travelling and this offer from Lobster Bar in Hong Kong came up, and it was really interesting. I heard a lot of positive things about the bar industry in Hong Kong, and the city seemed really exciting.
DW: Do the palate profiles of your consumers differ from when you were working back in the UK? If so, how different are they?
BM: The guest profile of our bar is really complex, I would say we have an even 50-50 split between Asian and Western guests. I can recognise a small difference between the palate here and in Europe; here our consumers enjoy more sour drinks. Whisky and Cognac is also pretty popular here.
DW: Is there a new ingredient you have recently discovered that you enjoy working with at the moment?
BM: Here, you discover new ingredients everyday. This is my first time in Asia and for me everything is new. My local collegues bring interesting things in every day, but even some of the familiar fruits here taste totally different than I’m used to.
DW: What is the biggest drinking trend emerging from Asia at the moment and what do you predict the next trend will be?
BM: In our bar people are ordering a lot of classic cocktails, and it’s also popular here to twist these classics with some Asian ingredients. I think in the future people will drink more low abv cocktails, and drinks which contain more organic ingredients.
DW: What does the Hong Kong Bar scene need more and less of?
BM: I think we need more hospitality and less of caring just about what is inside the glass.