We chat to Jade about what it’s really like to work in the bar industry as a woman, female role models and her favourite BAILEYS cocktail…
With the prevalence of male workers across Hong Kong’s bar scene, we definitely notice each time an amazing woman mixes us an incredible cocktail. Slowly but surely, the industry has seen the ascent of a small yet influential cohort of women making a name for themselves amongst the boys. Could it be that this traditionally male-dominated profession is being turned on its head? In honour of International Women’s Day, we chat to Jade Lau, one of Hong Kong mixology’s hottest rising stars, to find out more.
Read on to discover what it’s really like to work in the bar industry as a woman, along with the recipe for Jade’s favourite BAILEYS cocktail, created especially for the occasion.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong and I currently work as the Head Bartender at DOUBLESHOT by Cupping Room.
How did you get into mixology and bartending?
I got my first bar job in 2017 through circumstance, really. At the time, a friend of a friend was looking for a part-time bartender to help out. In the beginning, I was just looking to learn some new skills – plus, it didn’t hurt that I enjoyed drinking! From there, I discovered a real passion for the art of mixology.
What has been your experience working as a female bartender in Hong Kong?
While it’s true that the bar industry as a whole is very male dominated, I am happy to say that my experience as a female bartender has been largely positive. I feel very lucky to have a small yet powerful community of women working with me in the Hong Kong bar scene, including the Pontiac girls, Yvonne Chan and Summer Lo – many have paved the way for a lot of opportunities for women within mixology and bartending.
What is the toughest part of your job?
Generally speaking, it has to be the long working hours and late night shifts, which means I often have to sacrifice spending time with my friends and family. It’s also very physically demanding, requiring you to be on your feet for long hours.
As a woman, I think one of the toughest parts of my job is dealing with unwanted attention or harassment from (usually drunk) customers. I would say this happens more often to female bartenders than our male counterparts.
One instance that springs to mind is when I was working in a nightclub; I handed the drink to the male guest and he asked me to smile at him. I asked him why, and told him politely but firmly that I am not here to smile. In these situations, you need to have the confidence to speak up for yourself, whilst always asking for help if you need it.
Who is your biggest female inspiration within the Hong Kong bar scene?
My mentor Chanel Adams. She used to work in PDT Hong Kong, and she has now worked her way up to being an independent Beverage Consultant. I aspire to have a career like hers one day.
In what ways do you think the industry needs to change in order for it to be more supportive of female bartenders?
I think the industry needs to focus more on our skills and creativity rather than our physical appearance.
When it comes to society in general, I think a lot of older Hong Kong people have very traditional ideals and they don’t think “good” women should work late. This mindset needs to be challenged.
What advice do you have for girls looking to break into the industry?
If you want to reach the top and be a manager some day, you need to take time to focus on your business skills as well as your mixology skills. Also, don’t be afraid to try new things and take every chance you get – there are a lot of opportunities for women in the bar industry and it pays to make the most of them.
What are your goals for the year ahead?
I want to continue to grow the success of Doubleshot, as well as do more guest shifts to share my cocktails with more people. I’d also love to travel more when the world opens up again!
Created especially for International Women’s Day, here’s how to make Jade’s favourite BAILEYS cocktail.
0.75oz Hennessy VSOP
1oz Chicory coffee (you can use regular coffee if you prefer)
0.25oz Crème de cacao
2 dashes 10% saline solution (salty water)
Grated nutmeg (optional, for garnish)
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker along with some ice.
- Pour and add grated nutmeg to serve (if using).
Brought to you in partnership with BAILEYS.
With thanks to Jade Lau and DOUBLESHOT by Cupping Room.
Videos by Egor Lyfar; images by Daisy Costello and Egor Lyfar, for Sassy Media Group.