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Make These Classic Cocktails At Home With The Diplomat’s John Nugent

The best cocktails not only taste complex and balanced, but they look beautiful, too. And while ingredients, flavor and technique are essential ingredients to crafting an exceptional drink, your choice of glassware can also make a difference.

But don’t take our word for it. American bartender John Nugent, the co-founder of The Diplomat gastropub in Hong Kong and one of the city’s top bartenders, says there is some science behind a mixologist’s glass selection.

“Can you put a G&T into a wine glass? Sure. In Spain, they prefer it that way. Ideally, though, you want to serve carbonated drinks in bigger, longer glasses because this pushes the bubbles up along with the spirit or cocktail,” he explains. “For old fashioned glasses, you want your glass to be short and stubby and full of big cubes. This will keep your cocktail cold and ensure it doesn’t get over-diluted”

“Obviously, there is a cool factor as well. Working with BOMSHBEE, they have a glassware line that feels elegant but also very practical – and that’s what every home bar needs.”

Originally from Seattle, Nugent has worked all over the world, finding his stride in Boston, Europe and Seattle before relocating to Hong Kong in 2017 to head up prohibition-themed cocktail bar Lily & Bloom. This February, Nugent struck out on his own for the first time with The Diplomat.

Hidden down a back alley in Hong Kong’s Central District, the convivial gastropub feels warm and welcoming, with glamorously arched windows, a wrap-around leather banquette, brass accents and a Great Gatsby vibe that’s fitting of the name.

“When you open a bar, you want it to coincide with the environment and the community. Since Central is such an international place, The Diplomat made sense as a name. And if you think about historic diplomat parties, you think of Champagne, martinis, back-alley deals… we love that dynamic as well.”

Since its opening, The Diplomat has become synonymous with its inventive spins on classic cocktails, vintage Champagnes, small-batch whiskey and indulgent bar food to match – think American-style burgers, suckling pig Cubanos, beef tartare, and black truffle mac ‘n’ cheese.

Ahead of the holiday season, we asked Nugent to recommend three easy-to-make yet unforgettable cocktails that you can recreate in BOMSHBEE glassware at home:


The Drink: Boulevardier
The Glass: BOMSHBEE’s Angle Bell DOF

“The Boulevardier is a super classic cocktail – in layman’s terms, it’s a bourbon negroni. At The Diplomat, we split the base between Wild Turkey bourbon and Rebel Yell’s small-batch rye, which is a little bit on the spicier side. And then we use Punt e Mes [a bitter Italian vermouth], as opposed to sweet vermouth. Finally, we add Campari, which adds a hint of dark chocolate note, even though it doesn’t contain any chocolate,” says Nugent.

“This is a spirit-forward drink, so I’ve stirred the spirits together instead of shaking it. You don’t want any aeration in there – it should have a silky, smooth texture.

“The glass you choose is really important, so I am using BOMSHBEE’s Angle Bell DOF glass. DOF means ‘double old fashioned.’ BOMSHBEE obviously did its research, because this is an actual term that cocktail bartenders and bar managers use when we’re looking for specific size and specs.

“Essentially, DOF indicates that you can use this glass to make stirred on-the-rocks cocktails – about 90 milliliters [3oz] or more over ice. The glass will look nice and full, and it makes perfect sense for classics like the Old Fashioned or the Boulevardier.

“As a last touch, I’ve added orange zest and dropped in an orange peel. Most citrus peels have tons of oil in them, so you can get a lot of nice aroma and flavor – and the more you sip, the more it develops.”

Try it at Home
Boulevardier

Ingredients:

  • 3/4oz Rebel Yell Rye
  • 3/4oz Wild Turkey Bourbon
  • 1oz Punt e Mes
  • 1oz Campari
  • Orange Peel

Directions:

  • Place large block of ice in glass
  • Pour ingredients, one by one
  • Stir gently to combine

The Drink: The Jungle Bird
The Glass: BOMSHBEE’s Chandelier Skopeo

“The original Jungle Bird was invented [in the ‘70s] at Aviary Bar, at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. This drink is such a kick in the mouth – it has nice acidity and freshness from the lime, balanced with sweetness from the pineapple gomme syrup.

“To make the drink, we use our house rum which is a blend of three rums, including a Jamaican pineapple rum that gives our blend a nice funkiness. If you are making it at home, you can use a dark Jamaican rum like Appleton Estate Signature Blend or 12-year.

“Then we add Campari to round out the flavor and add some bitterness, followed by pineapple gomme syrup and some lime juice. Next, top it with a mountain of crushed ice.

“I chose BOMSHBEE’s Chandelier Skopeo glass because it feels glamorous – people just love goblets, and I feel like this nice, big goblet begs for crushed ice. 

“This drink is very photogenic and feels a bit ‘extra’ so I’d pair it with something equally indulgent to treat yourself, like our Chicken Sandwich a la Louisiane, made with Franks’ hot sauce-fried chicken.”

Try it at Home
The Jungle Bird

Ingredients:

  • 1oz Dark Jamaican Rum
  • 1/2oz Campari
  • 3/4oz Pineapple Gomme Syrup
  • 3/4oz Lime Juice
  • Pineapple leaf

Directions:

  • Pour ingredients, one by one
  • Stir gently to combine
  • Add crushed ice
  • Garnish with pineapple leaf

The Drink: Elephant Grounds G&T
The Glass: BOMSHBEE’s Angle Bell Highball 

The next drink is one I made for Elephant Grounds [a popular cafe in Hong Kong known for its locally roasted coffee and homemade pastries]. We just launched a happy hour cocktail menu for their new cafe on Hollywood Road, which is such a bangin’ spot. It has become a major hangout and meeting place, really tying the neighborhood together.

“This is a pretty simple cocktail, essentially my take on a G&T. And a highball glass like this one – BOMSHBEE’s Angle Bell Highball – makes perfect sense for a G&T.

“First, I’ve added a tall and thin block of hand-cut ice followed by London Dry Gin, some acacia honey, and Amaro Montenegro into the glass. Amaro Montenegro is a traditional amaro distilled in Bologna, Italy. It is not a bitter bomb like most Amari – it is light, with a low ABV, with some herbaceousness and a touch of floral.

“Finally, I top it with tonic and our homemade cold brewed espresso, then add a lemon wheel and a touch of mint for aromatics. The honey brings up the sweetness level, which is balanced with our homemade cold brew which is very potent and a touch on the bitter side.” 

“At the end of the day, it’s an elegant, refreshing gin and tonic. And, if you drink this cocktail slowly, the flavors will unravel even more. So it changes as you drink it.”   

Try it at Home
Elephant Grounds G&T

Ingredients:

  • 1oz London Dry Gin
  • 1/4oz Acacia Honey
  • 1/4oz Amaro Montenegro
  • 3oz Three Cents Tonic Water (or any nice, dry tonic)
  • 1/2oz Cold Brew Espresso
  • Lemon slice
  • Mint

Directions:  

  • Add blocks of ice
  • Pour ingredients, one by one
  • Stir gently
  • Add slice of lemon wheel
  • Garnish with mint

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