The world takes beer in a can for granted, but the reality is that the world’s first beer can was only developed in the early 1930s. More recently, wine in a can was scoffed at, yet the growing amount of canned varieties shows that it’s finally gaining some acceptance, even if it may be only a matter of convenience.
Recently, major brands like Smirnoff and Jose Cuervo have released their vodka and tequila drinks in cans. Smaller craft venues and bars – many in the States – have also been doing the same with a variety of drinks. And, of course, H & M has a canned line of mixed drinks on offer in Hong Kong.
But nobody in Hong Kong has MADE canned alcoholic drinks – until now.
Victoria Chow, who was so instrumental in moving local, artisanal cocktail culture forward as the Founder and Managing Director at the Wyndham Street bar called The Woods, aims to make canned alcoholic drinks popular with her new drink line called KWOON. Kwoon, Cantonese for “can”, is also a small new bar on Staunton Street in Soho which seats about 25 people. And sure, you can order drinks there, but it’s also possible to order a set of cans in advance and take them away. This is where the magic happens.
Currently there are six varieties (though more have been made), with names like Desert Rose and Tom Yum Cooler for those with an exotic bent – and Major League Bourbon for those who like their standard drinks, albeit with a strong (10-12% ABV) homemade Cola and Bourbon kick. The key is that they’re created in Hong Kong, with the city in mind. “We wanted to inject a sense of identity into them – showcasing the Hong Kong origin by incorporating some distinctly Hong Kong ingredients like salted plums, chrysanthemum and dried tangerine peels,” says Chow.
Chow became inspired to create the cans after she was exhausted packing her bartending equipment and spirits on junk trips. She also didn’t want to make standard issue drinks that may taste solid, but lack finesse. The result took quite a bit of fine tuning and testing. “It’s tricky to get the balance perfect, and the infusions consistent each time,” she says. “We moved to cans when we realized that glass bottles did not hold carbonation well, and that flavours and colours changed as they let in light. The cans are perfect as they are light, portable, air-tight, opaque and easier to recycle than glass.”
Currently, the cans are available to order via the web, and of course, it’s possible to stop by Kwoon and pick up a few. They’re made regularly with the help of a machine on site and the colorful cans also feature artwork by local artists that will change regularly. This is especially true if Kwoon begins to be exported to other cities, which is a distinct possibility. “We’ve already secured partnerships with some top hotels in Hong Kong, and are in conversation with premium retail outlets, airlines and vending machine locations,” says Chow. “We can’t wait to bring Kwoon to other cities and customizing our recipes and can designs to reflect a new place and its identity.”
But just remember, it all started here first…
Kwoon is available to order via their website at www.kwoonbythewoods.com
They’re also available for takeaway at KWOON, 64 Staunton Street, Central