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Shaking It Up: Morris Chang’s Mission to Create Extra Sustainable Cocktails

Shaking It Up: Morris Chang’s Mission to Create Extra Sustainable Cocktails

Taking first place in Flor de Caña’s Sustainable Cocktail Challenge in Hong Kong and Macau, Penicillin head mixologist Morris Chang tells us why sustainability doesn’t have to limit creativity.

As the concepts of farm-to-table or farm-to-bar become more popular than ever, you might be feeling inspired to lead a greener and more sustainable life in 2024, but for Penicillin’s head mixologist Morris Chang, the philosophy isn’t just a New Year’s resolution.

Leading Hong Kong’s first closed-loop, sustainable bar is clearly a testament to his dedication to the cause itself, but it wasn’t something he thought much about until arriving at the Hollywood Road establishment. After working in several well-respected bars in Taiwan, he decided move to Hong Kong in 2021, craving a change of scenery.

“It’s quite important to emerge oneself in a different culture, because it teaches you to think outside the box,” Chang says. “And Hong Kong had already established itself as one of the top cities for cocktails, so moving here was almost a no-brainer.”

Under the direction of co-founders Agung and Laura Probowo and Roman and Katy Ghale, Chang familiarised himself with what creating cocktails sustainably meant, and just two years later, he’s now mastered the art. His latest achievement came in the Flor de Caña Sustainable Cocktail Challenge, in which his Vice Versa elixir won the Hong Kong and Macau region competition.

“I wanted to put my cocktail skills to the test,” Chang explains. “Having worked at a bar that focuses so strongly on sustainability, I wanted to see whether my ideas made sense or not, not just to myself but to others in the industry.

“Vice Versa is a tribute to Flor de Caña’s distillery and my approach towards sustainable cocktails, which focus on compatibility and feasibility. The cocktail is inspired by the Miami Vice, a beach cocktail from the ’80s combining piña colada and fruit daiquiri – two classic rum cocktails in one glass, contemporary and classic co-existing. My variation includes a 100-percent recycled liqueur and foam with leftover pulps of scallions, galangal, passionfruit, calamansi, pineapple and Hong Kong’s signature pastry, the pineapple bun. All these ingredients were collected from nearby restaurants and bars, sourced from leftovers and food that was going to waste.”

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With Hong Kong and Macau conquered, Chang set off to Vietnam in November, where the next level of the Sustainable Cocktail Challenge took place. Competing at the Asian regional stage, his interactions with top bartenders and mixologists from around the continent widened his perspective and deepened his knowledge, and he now hopes to translate these fresh ideas to fit our city’s vibrant and dynamic F&B scene.

“Being an island with such a great variety of bars and restaurants, Hong Kong relies heavily on importing ingredients, unlike other large cities with indigenous produce,” Chang explains. “Despite our lack of farms, there are other opportunities to showcase creativity when it comes to sustainable practices and techniques. One of the reasons for collecting food waste from our neighbourhood to concoct Vice Versa was to highlight how leftover ingredients can be repurposed with a second – yet flavourful – life. The key to a more sustainable food and drink scene, I’d say, is to focus on working with what we already have.”

Source: Prestige Online

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