– Food & Wine India
KOKO presents a night full of Asian mixology.
This season, KOKO presents an exciting collaboration to launch their new drinks menu based on the popular Asian Inventions. KOKO joins forces with two of the most eminent mixologists in Asia – Yao Lu & Lucas Kauffman
The Tham Brothers along with Dimi Lezinska, KOKO’s renowned in-house mixologist, have brought a sense of versatility to the menu by playing with diverse ingredients complimenting these century-old inventions.
KOKO showcases a preview with all the three mixologists crafting some of the most unique and refreshing cocktails.
The launch of this special cocktail menu seeks to pay homage to the everlasting Asian inventions and discoveries
Meet- up with Lucas Kauffman
- What brings you to India?
We received an invitation from Dimi Lezinska, who is launching a new cocktail menu for KOKO restaurant in Mumbai. The menu is inspired by Asian inventions, and it certainly was great fun to be able to create two cocktails tailored especially for this unique event. The cocktails featured was Black Ink and Muzzle Flash, taking inspiration from the invention of ink and gunpowder respectively.
- What led you to bartending and how did you become serious about the craft?
I stood behind the bar at the age of 24 after I returned back to Europe from the United States. My very good family friend owned Dubliner Irish Pub in Bratislava and they needed help so I started to work there, learned how to pour beers and shots. I thought it would be a temporary job but after more than a year there, I got offered to join the team of Paparazzi Ristorante where I fell in love with craft cocktails and hospitality. Paparazzi was awarded with “Best Cocktail Menu” at Tales of the Cocktail – and the menu was created by Stanislav Vadrna, who till today is a huge inspiration to me and his philosophy made me fall in love with our industry and craft.
- What was the first spirit you ever tasted and what was your first impression about it?
Slivovica.This is basically Plum Au de Vie – a very typical spirit from the former Czechoslovakia region, I have to say I hated it back when I originally tried it, but these days I can really enjoy a good Slivovica during a special occasion.
- What’s the weirdest drink anyone’s ever ordered from you?
- What’s your least favourite thing about working behind a bar?
To me, there is no such thing as a “least favourite” aspect of the job when you are one of those people lucky enough to say you love your job. Work never feels like work at 28 HongKong Street. As cliché as it sounds I enjoy every part of the job including days when you encounter stressful situations.
- The “perfect” cocktail according to you?
The “perfect cocktail” is one our guest enjoys most, thus enhancing the overall experience at 28 HongKong Street.
- Are there any Indian alcoholic drinks or ingredients you are looking forward to get exposed to?
All of them! With India’s multitude of unique herbs, spices, fruits, tea’s and essences available, it is hard to just pick one. I have previously worked with typical Indian ingredients, but there is so much more to explore.
- What’s the best cure for a hangover?
At my age, sleep is definitely the best cure! A good spicy and savory Bloody Mary, cold beer, or “pickle back” can always save a day.
Meet- up with Yao Lu
- What brings you to India?
My dear friend Dimi, whom i met 5 years ago in Cognac, was generous enough to invite me to collaborate in KoKo’s Asian Invention inspired cocktail menu.
- How did you become interested in bartending?
I majored in Hotel & Rest Management at University of Houston, originally i got into bartending to gain work experience and pay for school. Eventually falling in love with the rich culture, history and technique of the craft but also the empathetic and compassionate approach that is required for hospitality.
- What’s your favourite cocktail or spirit?
Anything rum or whiskey based is fair game, extra points if it’s got sherry in it.
- What inspires you into creating new cocktails?
Everything. A song, a dish, a city, a mood that i want to capture and express through visual and flavors. The turn of the season when the colors change and the air is filled with new aromas. Everything inspires me.
- What’s the most frequently requested drink by customers?
Negronis and Old Fashions seem to reign supreme regardless you are in the world.
- If you weren’t a bartender what would you be doing?
Anywhere between working in finance or marketing. I know my parents would be proud.
- One-pro tip for budding mixologists
Work out, eat well, go to therapy, practice self love, use every resource to take care of yourself, or else we’re in no place to take care of anyone else.