Food | Master of Improvisation


For many of us, our favorite time of day is happy hour, just after you get off work and really need a drink to wind down. In Macau, the most glamorous spot for such a wonderful moment is the Ritz- Carlton Bar & Lounge. Offering breathtaking views of Cotai from the 51st floor of The Ritz-Carlton Macau, it is a sophisticated and exclusive lounge area for guests to indulge in a crafted beverage and culinary experience.
Shades of dark brown create an exclusive space that evokes timeless style. Rich hardwood flooring holds classic plush sofas, and are further punctuated with touches of contrasting colors to create an original and bold interior design that makes a statement. The uninterrupted views of Cotai provide the perfect backdrop to the custom-cut curved Italian marble top bar.
The beautiful lounge is indeed a venue of elegance and glamour, but what’s more is that one of the most talented mixologists of Macau works there. His name is Paul Zhang, Chief Mixologist at the Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge. Originally from Tianjin, Paul started his career working as a part timer behind the bar at a four-
star hotel. It was not until he got an invitation to watch a cocktail competition in Beijing that he immediately knew he wanted to be a mixologist.
“When I was working part time, my work started around midnight, but I went to work early, because I was interested in how they mixed cocktails at the bar. At that time, I knew I wanted to learn more about it. Soon after, I became very passionate about the bar culture,” he says.
Before Paul joined the Ritz-Carlton, he worked in many bars around Beijing, because he was eager to discover how individuals from different parts of the globe make their favorite cocktails.
“The Americans like to show off their physical techniques. It is like a visual show for the guests, which is a lot of fun. They are extremely creative and add different types of alcohol to the drinks as they go along mixing, very relaxed all the time. The English, on the other hand, love the heritage and history behind every type of cocktail, and they pride themselves in having recipes from old books that they take out and review from time to time. The Japanese, the most precise of all, take a long time to make a drink, because they have methods and procedures for everything. They go step by step, and the sequence of which the steps are done can never be altered,” he explains.
Having such a talented and experienced mixologist behind the bar means that guests from various places around the globe can have what they want, the way they like it. But Paul’s artistry does not end here. He is a master of improvisation.
“One of the greatest joys of being a mixologist is that you have the power to tailor-make a special cocktail for someone. Improvising is a lot of fun at the bar. Usually I ask a few questions about what the guest feels like and create something right away. I once even had a guest in Tianjin who flew me to Shanghai to dine at his favorite restaurant just to create a cocktail for him. The process was very rewarding, as I found out a lot about him, which included discovering his favorite smells and colors. A lot of research was required after that. In addition, it had to match his favorite dish also,” he comments.
A winner of many cocktail competitions in China, Paul is often invited to compete overseas. Other than mixing alcohol, he also plays several musical instruments. What’s striking is that he has the audacity to incorporate his musical performance into cocktail mixology. To him, mixing music with cocktails is like drinking with eating. Moreover, he is incredibly proud of being Chinese and would like to share his culture with the rest of the world.
Paul does not perform musically at The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge, but they have an amazing jazz trio with a vocalist. To match jazz music, Paul recommends drinking the Bellini.
“Bellini is a very classic cocktail, but ours is mainly champagne with peach puree. The homemade fresh peach foam is made with added cream, very rich and delicate, perfect for ladies,” he explains.
Another visually stunning cocktail creation will be the China Rose. The Rose is the flower of China’s Tianjin, where Paul is from. Made with fresh cranberry puree, lemon juice, rose wine, champagne and decorated with edible dried rose petals, the bubbly cranberry combination has a fruity aroma.
After offering me two signature cocktails, Paul goes on to create a cocktail just for me, Vanilla Piña Colada with low alcohol content. “The smell of vanilla is just intoxicating, and I love the smoothness of the coconut milk. This is a dream come true. The perfume I am wearing today also has those notes”, I say. “I hope you are not leaving Macau because now I will come to The Ritz- Carlton Bar & Lounge just to drink your cocktails. In regards to cocktails, nobody knows my personal taste better than you,” I add.

Categories Taste of Edesia