Famous for transforming your night outs into whimsical fairytale, Dragonfly has elevated its cocktail menu as it heads into its second year of operations. We caught up with Brent Flowers, Beverage Manager of Dragonfly and J. Boroski Bar Hong Kong, by Dining Concepts, to talk about the new Four Fox cocktail and how he creates an unmistakable bar experience for his guests.
Can you tell us about your background? How did you become a Bar Manager?
I started my career in South Africa, in a cocktail bar called Asoka, one of the 50 Best Bars in the world at the time. That’s basically where I first got the inspiration of what a bartender can do, but I wasn’t so serious until I moved to Dubai a year later. I had a great mentor in Dubai who showed me what a craft cocktail is. After spending a few years in two 1-Michelin star restaurants, I worked my way up as the head bartender. And just before I left Dubai and moved over to HK, I became the bar manager of the best restaurant in Dubai.
And what have you been doing since you arrived in the 852?
I joined Dining Concepts when I moved to Hong Kong. They initially gave me Dragonfly as a project but it was not ready for another 6 months. So I joined Iron Fairies as the bar manager. It was tough because there was a lot to learn and Iron Fairies at the time was already very busy. I then moved over to Dragonfly when it opened, and then I was given the chance to take over J.Boroski as well.
In a way I feel happy because I can move around and experience different things from both venues. Just that the pace in Hong Kong is really fast, so you have to learn and do everything on the go!
What’s your view on bar scene here in HK?
When I left Dubai, Hong Kong to me was THE spot. It would be somewhere everybody talks about the cocktail scene. However, I felt that there’s a bit of lacking in the hospitality when I came. Apart from that, in terms of bars and restaurants, it is on par with the top cities in the world, like Paris, New York and London. We have so many bars in the Top 50 at the moment in Hong Kong, which is amazing considering it being such a small space.
How do you create distinctive and memorable experiences for your guests?
First of all, it’s to do with the staff members. It’s not about me. I think that’s the most important. If you have happy staff members, you are going to have a happy environment. Consistency is also important. I think consistency is the biggest key to success. Once you have balanced these two elements, then I think you have a good place. Another thing is to keep learning and exploring. In our trade, there’s always new things coming up, so don’t be complacent about what you have.
You have a Four Fox Sake cocktail on the new Drgonfly menu, can you tell us the inspiration behind this drink?
I’m a big fan of Four Fox Sake because recently I am starting to get into the low-ABV trend at the moment. So when I thought of a sake cocktail, I wanted something simple and delicate but at the same time has a unique character. The cocktail itself is very simple. I didn’t infuse anything. It’s just sake and tonic. We freeze some cantaloupe balls and throw them in, which the drink will slowly get the flavour from. And the sheet of nori as well, just to give a little bit of Japanese influence to it. Overall, it’s a really simple drink and it’s exactly what I like.
J Boroski is known for its omakase experience. What are some of the most unusual cocktails you have made upon guest preferences?
It’s not unusual per se. It’s usually just the ingredients that I know wouldn’t really match. The weirdest thing for me is Old Fashion with spices. But if you are willing to try, I’m willing to do it for you. I’m always up to learn more.
Both venues are intricately decorated (thanks to Ashley Sutton) and social-media-famous, how do you see the role of social media photography in the bar business nowadays?
Social media to me is the driving force behind almost all successful businesses. It is such an easy way of communication as well. In terms of photography, in my trade in particular, people get attracted to what they see, then the smell and the taste. A lot of the time you have to design the drinks to look good, so in a way I am a bit upset about the fact that people rely on how it looks like. But it’s good at the same time because it attracts people to come and try, and then share it.
Playing on the European heritage associated with the Tai Kwun complex, Dragonfly creates an ambiance synonymous with the art nouveau styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Dragonfly is a comfortable boutique bespoke cocktail lounge and eatery designed by masterful artist Ashley Sutton, who displays his passion for the creative genius of Louis Tiffany and incorporates this passion in the design. Focus is on soft-mood lounge music and an eclectic selection of creative cocktail creations passionately prepared by a team of international mixologists at the centre bar together with a choice of delectable menu items. With its classic design overtones, Dragonfly presents a cosy ambience of comfort and relaxing in an era of a time gone.
About Four Fox Sake
This saké is handcrafted in the snowiest region of Japan. In the mountains of Niigata, craftsmen use local rice and melted snow to create an incredibly crisp, smooth and delicious junmai daiginjo (the highest grade of saké).
The gorgeous bottle is a tribute to Inari Okami – the Japanese god of sake, swordsmiths, and foxes. A glass bottle with the embossed Four Fox crest is sheathed in a sleeve with a highly-polished chrome finish and capped with a Japanese wood cork – the perfect combination of modernity and tradition. Each bottle also comes with a built in LED for striking presentation when serving in a dark atmosphere.
To read more on Four Fox Sake, check out the blog post interview here with FFS leader Michael Campion.