She tells Tatler how she’s bringing flavours of Myanmar to Hong Kong with “culture-forward” cocktails
Myanmar isn’t known for its bar culture. How did you get your start in the business?
In April 2010, I joined the food and beverage industry out of pure curiosity. I studied at the Myanmar International Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Yangon. After my studies, I moved to Dubai where I worked as a waitress in the lobby of the Grosvenor House Luxury Collection Hotels by Marriott. During busy periods, I would help out in other venues within the hotel, and saw bartenders making hundreds of cocktails and engaging with guests like old friends. I saw what I wanted to do and how my personality would fit in such a role. Sometimes, being a bartender is like being an entertainer: we entertain the guest with our passion. [Bartending] has transformed me into a confident woman who knows what she loves and loves what she does.
You have worked in Macau, Dubai, Myanmar and now Hong Kong. How are all the bar scenes similar and how are they different?
They are all unique. Dubai is more focused on hospitality, high-quality service, and food and beverage offerings, and this is thanks to the talented bartenders from all over the world who move to the Middle East for a new experience. The Hong Kong bar scene focuses more on trends, techniques and the skill of the bartenders. Consumers are much more sophisticated here. Myanmar is very different due to its turbulent political history. Nightlife was non-existent until recently, and alcohol consumers were almost always men. Women are legally allowed to drink, but it was always considered taboo. Now, I am happy to see that perceptions around alcohol are evolving, further elevating our local cocktail culture. Young bartenders can experience the thrill of bartending, hone their craft and eventually showcase their mixology on an international stage.
What was it about Hong Kong that drew you here?
I arrived in November 2021. Although I came during very tough times, Hong Kong has always been my dream city. I had difficulty applying for a visa, finding a flight and getting a hotel during this hectic period. It was extremely challenging, but these moments made me even more determined to fight for what I wanted, which was to be in a city where I could learn from an amazing community of talented bartenders.
How did the opportunity at Club Rangoon come about?
Last year, [founder] Nelson Htoo reached out to ask if I was interested in the role. I was excited to move to Hong Kong, but I also felt somewhat responsible to be a voice for my country and represent my culture through mixology. There is a greater purpose to everything I do now.