Through the stirred glass: John Nugent of the diplomat on the 3 cocktails that guided his career
While chefs are often celebrated in great works and Netflix documentaries, bartenders, while their careers are based on interacting with audiences, often don’t get their due when it comes to pop culture. Through the stirred glass is Tatler Dining’s new video series that aims to turn that scenario around, with a look at the lives and careers of six Hong Kong bartenders, each of whom captures their experiences in three cocktails made for the camera. From childhood memories to their early days in the industry, to the present day, watch Hong Kong’s finest mixologist minds recount their journeys so far through the bottom of a stirring glass.
When in doubt about where to have a good time, The Diplomat is often the first name on the lips of connoisseurs. It’s not hard to see why: With Seattle-native John Nugent running the ornate (albeit at times intimate) bar of this Prohibition-inspired gastro pub, The Diplomat often descends into a noisy but dejected mob. good humor where the Gibsons and the famous quarter pound house burgers came out in regular procession until late into the night.
After serving as a bartender in Seattle, Boston and Europe, Nugent was drawn to Hong Kong by Beckaly Franks of The Pontiac in 2017, where he quickly took over the reins of the beverage program from popular Lan Kwai Fong hotspot, Lily & Bloom. In February 2021, he opened The Diplomat as part of the Leading Nation group, where, within 15 months, the bar’s winning formula of simple classics, addictive pub food and all-American hospitality. placed it 20th out of 50 in Asia. Best Bars, giving Nugent the London Essence Best New Opening award in the process.
Not one to hang around, Nugent quickly moved to launch Kyle & Bain, a low-key martini bar hidden above pan-European restaurant Margo that pays homage to the history of ice-making in Hong Kong. Before it opened, we caught up with the bartender about his own story and the three cocktails that best represent his journey so far.
Watch the first episode here with Antonio Lai from Quinary.