Hong Kong Demand For Wine & Spirits Shows Signs Of Diversification
Led by a spate of high-profile grand openings and a conga line of international chefs (as well as a deep local culinary culture stretching back centuries), Hong Kong continues to attract international attention and accolades as a multifarious gastro hub. Developing along a similar path, starting with low-end watering holes in Wan Chai or Lan Kwai Fong and progressing to world-class cocktail and wine bars, recent decades have seen the blossoming of a bar culture that in many ways rivals New York or Tokyo. But with many locals still hung up on spirits like cognac or Scotch, a small but devoted coterie of Hong Kong-based bartenders, such as Giancarlo Mancino, are pushing the boundaries by creating a range of vermouths to fill the lack of “charisma” in the city’s drinking scene.
Mancino, who helms the bar consultancy GiancarloBAR and, until recently, was best known for his association with 8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA — chef Umberto Bombana’s three-Michelin-star Italian restaurant — is now busy creating a bar for new Italian fine-dining concept il Milione. According to the drinks business, Mancino, in an attempt to give Hong Kong drinkers the chance to try a “vermouth that could be savoured as a solo experience and not only for mixing in cocktails such as the Negroni or Manhattan,” recently released his own line of vermouths, Mancino Vermouth. Currently, the nascent line includes a secco, infused with 19 botanicals, a bianco ambrato, infused with 38 botanicals and a rosso amaranto, infused with 38 botanicals, all using a Trebbiano di Romagna wine base.
Following their debut late last year, Mancino’s vermouths have already found favor across the region, with high-end bars and selected retailers stocking bottles in Hong Kong, the Philippines, mainland China and further afield. Mancino’s bold introduction of traditional Italian spirits to the city is a telling reflection of the city’s steadily growing interest in food and drinks originating from the Mediterranean, a trend that Jing Daily has followed in the wine sector as well:
The popularity of Italian wine is ever-increasing in Hong Kong with the easy availability of back vintages and the growing interest in wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. Italian wines are considered a safer buy and are much more affordable than their counterparts from Bordeaux and Burgundy as there is little to no speculation on the price of the wines. There is also a growing culture of pairing Chinese food with Italian wines.