Fantasizing about New York City
As the ubiquity of cocktail bars continue to sprawl out around the world. New York City is still one of the city people refers back in many ways from prohibition to the cocktail revolution. Many other cities are developing and growing but one of the region that swiftly grew in Asia. I then ask myself, is it possible for Asia to sent their bar abroad? Does drinker here wonder about bars somewhere in Asia? Because I do, and I think those bars have what it takes to sway New Yorkers to be in awe.
If Asia and its cities are considered the new worlds, then New York, America, and some other locations can be the old world. However, it’s debatable that all have influenced each other in one way or another. For example, how the Japanese cocktail culture that began in the late nineteenth century to how it inspired and influence many of so-called speakeasies in New York in early 2000. Think about the other exchanges and inspirations between various locations. It is worth noting of increasing appearances of herbs, spices, and availability of spirits from other countries in Asia, too.
In New York and other cities, Bars and the people behind them have already expanded within the city or to other states already. A few have brought slices of New York across the sea to Singapore and Hong Kong. Much like how we experience outpost or branches of well-known restaurants. Or how there are many New York outposts in Miami and abroad.
Asia is more recognized and connected within and outside
It doesn’t matter if you believe in awards or lists or not and how many bars from Asia were on. It surely always create an effect one way or another along with implications. Not to mention boosts from cocktail related events, festivals, weekend or a week-long that brought people from around the world to make a city or region a destination. There is continuity of expansion of bars within the region, too.
Some bars are strikingly similar in terms of concept or looks of those in New York. Yet, there are other bars could easily be placed here and still present an exciting alternative to bars in New York. Bars in Asia have gone beyond speakeasies at a very fast pace. There are interesting ingredient based bars, futuristic bars or highly concept bars/menu that were well regarded. More spirits and brands are surfacing over there. After years of hand carried and under the bar and bottles shared with the inner circles.
A lot of hotel bars in Asia have been awarded and if hotels here in the states like can transplant itself in other states or have popular bars to branch out. It’s only a matter of time before chained brand hotels start importing bars from their other locations and different regions.
Connections among bartenders or those who work in this area are tight-knit but also friendly enough to accept newcomers or people. Guest shifts happen almost every other week. (some media even track or regularly release articles to updates) As tiring as it may sound, it still attracts people and connects them all together, and that means connections with bartenders from around the world, drinkers, or between owners and investors as well.
Bartenders now travel extensively, some anonymously or only expose themselves to a certain degree to the community. It means exchange and connection are even broader. Asia has imported many bartenders for years and continue to do so and I hope to see more of export. Who knows, there might already be investors or bartenders who are interested in opening up something but they haven’t met each other person yet. Spare me those questions about money or how hard it is to get a license or location, if New York continues to have new bars then there’s a way, or maybe in other cities.
The other significant questions are whether New York will be open to them? And how can Asia introduce their various palettes and flavors? When the most of bars (even the well known or famous) are still strikingly boozy, rough and blast crude flavors in big portion. Are the people ready or will open to exploring those flavors or they will wait to have only leading figures and to create a trail or say that it’s cool to drink them?
Can Asia connect and kickstart or boost other things?
As diverse as New York is, it’s not so diverse when you walk into a bar, from drinkers, staff, and people behind the stick. Sure, the majority of people working in bars in Asia are, well, Asians. But let’s not forget there is a mix of both local and foreigners as bar owners, bartenders, liquor brand owners, etc.
There are already organizations or communities in the states trying to tackle equality, representations and other issues. Can outposts from Asia boost awareness about diversity and connection with the old world better? Maybe. After what has happened with the food world, it may be slow, but there has been, and with more inclusivity, it could be faster and better. Some restaurants have been trying to mix and introduce their local spirits through cocktails along with their cuisine as well.
As there are many ingredients from Asia already available here because of immigrants and the introduction of food. The incoming of cocktails can help expand and uncover lesser-known components along with other importation. Bars and bartenders can help with that as well.
Will it last?
Bringing cocktails culture and flavors from abroad to introduce to a new region can be very challenging. However, without many world-renowned figures or establishment in the mass. Apart from the assumption about the expansion of hotel bars that has all the jump starts, It is possible stand-alone bars can have its breakthrough as well. They have the freedom to do whatever they want to prove and present themselves. Because of the large population of drinkers willing to explore new places or it will be opened by well known bartenders from Asia which the media will help endorse. After that, it also depends on owners conscience and how they run it.
They might last or not last long, they might have to compromise and change. It might not be the time yet, but I hope to see it happen. Not only New York but in other cities, too. It’s a thought after all but definitely not only me.
Shall we see Baiji focused bar, feni workshop, yadong tasting or arrack cocktail list, anyone?