Hong Kong boasts one of the most dynamic dining scenes on the planet, filled with culinarians and tastemakers galore. In our Cheat Day column, we spotlight some of the top players in the kitchen and behind the bar, delving into their personal favourites during their days off. This week, we speak to Laura Prabowo of Penicillin and Dead&.
Laura Prabowo is a woman you don’t forget. Vivacious, charming and hardworking, she is the other half of the Prabowo power-couple; her husband being Agung Prabowo, previously of MO Bar and The Old Man.
“I graduated from tourism school and knew immediately I wanted to bartend,” she says. “I was inspired by how cool the bartenders looked with their individual flairs and mixing drinks. It motivated me so much that I applied for a job as a bartender right after school.”
Despite her enthusiasm, Prabowo’s path was not without its difficulties.
“Everyone looked at me with such a critical eye. ‘Bartending is a job for men only,’ they would say. That was the response I got from almost every hotel or independent bar I applied for. I refused to give up until, one day, a new jazz club opened at the Aston Hotel, Jakarta, and they took a chance on me.”
Now, the Prabowo and her husband manage Penicillin and Dead& along with fellow co-owners Roman and Katy Ghale.
Do you have a signature drink? Tell us about it.
I have quite a few signature drinks. A special one I made with Fireball won first prize at the LKF Cocktail Street Competition!
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
‘It can be a dark world when you decide to go into bartending. Whatever happens, stand strong.’
This is gold for me, and advice that I still practice until now.
Which are your five go-to dishes/drinks in restaurants or bars in Hong Kong?