Italian bartender Lorenzo Antinori — he’s also the beverage manager at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong and the beverage ambassador for Four Seasons, Asia-Pacific — always knew he was called to the bar. The almost-lawyer discovered his true calling while working part- time in one in Rome and has since gleaned an impressive resume of award winners, with placings on the World’s and Asia’s 50 Best Bars lists. This month, the affable chap writes a new chapter as Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong’s beverage manager and one of two newly appointed beverage ambassadors for the hotel group’s Asia-Pacific region, overseeing properties in China, Japan and South Korea, including his former “baby”, Charles H. bar at Four Seasons Hotel Seoul. “The hotel bar is becoming a place where you enjoy a next-level experience that is not only about the cocktails, but also design and craftsmanship,” he says. “We will see even more of that in Asia.”
“I like to think of music as part of a bar’s interior design. We collaborate with a company to change the list every six months. The night usually starts with lower tones and lighter tunes before going into something more buzzing, and then ends with darker, mellower songs. My personal music favourites, though, will never make it to the selection (laughs). I’m an electronic music and hip-hop fan, especially of the old-school genre — Tupac, Wu-Tang Clan, Warren G, etc. And depending on my mood, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder too.”
“One lazy summer afternoon in my friend’s backyard in Seoul, he took out the extra virgin oil that he imported from Sicily with other Italian produce and proudly said that it would work on the Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream that we brought. So we drizzled a few drops of light olive oil and ate the whole combo with semi-sweet sparkling moscato. It worked! The oil added savoury elements to the ice cream, enhancing the mouthfeel as well.”
“At Four Seasons, we work closely with our local producers and suppliers. Last year, we used local plum liquor (maesil-ju), an infusion of green unripe plums in rice spirits, water and honey, at Charles H.
It has a sweet profile and a bright acidity that makes it work brilliantly in different cocktails. We combined it with Navy Strength Gin and dry vermouth for a twist on the classic Hoffman House martini, giving it a nice depth and a fruity edge.”