Eat & Drink

A Sip With Samuel Kwok of Quinary

Vietnam

Back in February this year, we had a quiet sip with Samuel Kwok of award-winning Hong Kong bar Quinary while he was visiting Rabbit Hole in Saigon.

Quinary, opened in 2012, has been described by worlds50bestbars.com as “one of the most forward-thinking bars in Hong Kong’s future-gazing scene” and “with the look and feel of a speakeasy” but where drinking “is designed to be a thought-provoking and multi-sensory experience.”

Samuel has played a big role in why the bar attracts such acclaim.

And it seems the accolades will continue to roll indefinitely for the much-loved bar on Hollywood Road. Just this May, Quinary was again voted into the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list for 2019, coming in at number 10, while in 2017 it was listed as number 40 in the World’s 50 Best Bars list.

Here’s what we asked him in between sips.

1.How old are you? 33

2. What’s your official position at Quinary? General Manager

3. How long have you been at Quinary? 6.5 years

4. What’s your philosophy as it relates to customer service?

Customers who enter your bar pay for an experience, a whole package, not just a good drink. Good drinks are a must, but the whole package is like an insurance policy, which includes so many things, like good vibes, good drinks, good service and moments guests can really appreciate. With new bartenders to the industry, I ask them to share a customer service story with me and then explain their approach through to service recovery (if needed). For me, it’s all about, happy customers in, happy customers out. At Quinary, we sell experiences. 

5. Name the bars you visited when you were in Saigon.

Sorry, I don’t remember all the names, but I remember Qui and the new one with a lot of Japanese tattoo photos on the walls, Irusu.

6. Tell us about your experience at those bars.

Good drinks and good vibes.

7. Where do you see Saigon’s bar culture at the moment?

Saigon is still a place with potential to grow in the area of F&B. But it will experience the same growing pains as other cities in Asia, like Hong Kong before it. Everything when it starts isn’t easy. Saigon will just need more time for people to get used to a changing culture and its development.

8. What advice do you have for Vietnamese bartenders?

Be patient. Before you can expect success, you have to build a strong community. 

9. What advice do you have for people who would like to try a cocktail bar for the first time?

Don’t be scared to try new things. Part of your life is to explore through your palate.

10. Is there a cocktail that you are just simply sick of making?

Drinks with a shitty taste that just get people drunk, for example, the Flaming Lamborghini. We never make it at Quinary!

11. What’s one cocktail you wish guests would ask you to make.

Boulevardier, my favourite cocktail. It’s simple but not easy to make.

12. What does the future hold for Samuel Kwok?

I’ll continue to be a bartender who inspires everyone who works with me and ensures they enjoy the experience.

If you’d like to have a sip with us and be featured in The Bureau, get in contact via email thebureauasia@gmail.com, Facebook @thebureauasia or leave a message in our live chat box.

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