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27 Questions: Agung Prabowo, Hong Kong bartender extraordinaire and co-founder of Penicillin and Dead &

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Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. Each week in 27 Questions, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims, aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration it takes to sit through a two-minute speed date.

What does one do after opening the best bars in Asia? For barman Agung Prabowo — who was one of the trio of bar industry veterans behind The Old Man — previously ranked #1 by Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 and currently holds the #2 spot — the answer is: you walk away and start something new.

This month, Prabowo and business partner Roman Ghale are gearing up to launch not one but two new bars, hot off the heels of their success with The Old Man in both Hong Kong and Singapore. Slated to open on Hollywood Road in the second half of October, Penicillin is an exciting new concept inspired by the so-called “farm-to-bar” movement. Aiming to be Hong Kong’s first sustainable bar with a closed-loop model of production — meaning they produce little to no waste — Penicillin will focus on locally sourced and up-cycled ingredients as well as minimising its carbon footprint.

Penicillin is, of course, an antibiotic that changed the course of medical history; the bar’s name is a wink and a nod to the idea of alcohol as medicine but also speaks to the staff’s scientific approach to the cocktail production process. That helps to explain The Penicillin Lab, a white-tiled space at the entrance of the bar which will highlight the bar’s experimentation with various ingredients in pursuit of its mission of sustainability.

Prabowo and Ghale’s second new bar concept, Dead & (pronounced ‘Dead End’), is expected to open on Central’s Wo On Lane this November. Not much has been divulged about this project, but the duo are promising a modern take on the dive bar. In advance of these two highly anticipated new openings, we subjected master bartender Prabowo to our signature questionnaire to learn about his first job, his favourite things, greatest fears and much more.

Agung Prabowo

Name: Agung Prabowo

Age: 40

Neighbourhood: Causeway Bay

Occupation: Bartender

1. What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?

Roast goose.

2. What was your first job?

Busboy.

3. What is your drink of choice?

Bourbon highball.

4. When was the last time you drove a car?

Ten years ago.

5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Depends when you need me!

6. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’d rather drink instead. I can handle hunger, but not thirst.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?

I wish I had spent more time with my father. I wasn’t there at the end when he needed me.

8. What is the top destination on your bucket list?

South America.

9. How often do you prepare your own meals?

Rarely.

10. What is your greatest fear?

The fear of failure.

11. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Sleeping for 12 hours.

12. What is one movie everyone should see?

‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’

Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale
Agung Prabowo and business partner Roman Ghale.

13. What is your typical Sunday like?

Having a great time with my family and being in a food coma.

14. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?

When I offered my first salary to my mom.

15. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Bali, Island of the Gods.

16. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?

When they yell at you, “DIUUUUUUU!”

17. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?

Joko Widodo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Barack Obama, Greta Thunberg, and Mother Teresa.

18. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?

“We Are the Champions”

19. If you could banish someone from Hong Kong forever, who would it be?

Anyone who doesn’t care about climate change!

20. Where do you go when you want to be alone?

The bathroom.

21. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?

Phenomenal.

22. What’s your favourite childhood memory?

Driving a motorcycle when I was 10 years old.

23. What is one thing you’ve never revealed to your parents?

Skipping classes.

24. Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?

My mother. She always said to be humble and kind to others wherever you are.

25. Do you have a catch phrase?

“Alcohol you later.”

26. Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Tell us about it.

Yes, the first time I saw a bartender working behind the bar. That’s how my career started.

27. How many countries have you been to?

67.

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