Penicillin Wins Asia's 50 Best Sustainable Bar Award

Hong Kong’s Penicillin bar has been lauded for its minimal waste ethos, tree planting initiative and for championing a ‘closed-loop’ bar programme

By: Tiff Christie|April 23,2021

Hong Kong’s Penicillin has been named the winner of the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award by Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021.

The award recognises the bar that exemplifies the highest commitment to sustainability, ethical sourcing and the wider community, based on an independent audit carried out by Food Made Good Global, 50 Best’s Sustainability Partner of eight years.

The award is the final of four special awards to be announced ahead of Asia’s 50 Best Bars’ digital ceremony on 6th May 2021, which will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube.

As countries begin to open up following a year of extraordinary challenges, 50 Best’s role in championing great bars and bringing the community closer together is more important than ever. For the first time, and to celebrate more bars across the continent, on 29th April 50 Best will also reveal the bars ranked between 51st and 100th on the list.

50 Best will also debut its ‘Breaking The Ice’ bartender discussion series on 2nd, 3rd and 4th May on its Facebook channel.


Mark Sansom, Content Editor for Asia’s 50 Best Bars, says: “We are pleased to congratulate Penicillin on winning this year’s Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award. The team thoroughly deserve this recognition for their comprehensive and varied sustainability efforts – from supporting the local economy, instigating Hong Kong’s first closed-loop bar programme and getting involved in reforestation projects via their ‘One Penicillin, One Tree’ initiative, which plants a tree for every cocktail ordered. Even in its nascent stage, it is setting a sustainable example for the world to follow.”

Opened at the end of 2020 by Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale – the founders of The Old Man Hong Kong, which won The Best Bar in Asia crown in 2019 – and their respective partners Laura Prabowo and Katy Ghale, Penicillin offers innovative cocktails made using locally sourced ingredients that are obtained through foraging and from local farmers and suppliers.

The bar also places huge emphasis on repurposing and recycling ingredients, using commonly discarded coconut bark, used tea leaves and oxidised wine in its concoctions. Through the use of its fermentation room, the team ensures that previously discarded off-cuts from the food menu can be upcycled to use as garnishes on the cocktail list, which is a key component of its ‘closed-loop’ operation.

Penicillin’s sustainable mission flows through not only on the menu but in the design of the bar itself – ceramics are made from 50% recycled plaster, while the rustic table tops are fabricated by HK Timber Bank, using nine different handpicked trees salvaged from Hong Kong’s infamous typhoons. Even the bespoke neon wall lights have been reused from a local shop that has closed down.

For every cocktail sold, one Mallotus Muticus tree is planted in the endangered Kalimantan rainforest in Borneo, Indonesia.

One of Penicillin’s latest initiatives is its ‘One Penicillin, One Tree’ cocktail. For every cocktail sold, one Mallotus Muticus tree is planted in the endangered Kalimantan rainforest in Borneo, Indonesia. Boasting a lifespan of more than 200 years, each tree is said to be able to eliminate 4,400kg of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 8,000 single-use glass spirit bottles.

Agung Prabowo, co-founder of Penicillin, says: “We feel extremely happy and honoured to receive this award – Penicillin is still very young so we were not expecting to win but it means a lot to us. We see this award as a responsibility to be a pioneer in the industry – to influence other bars to join hands with us to protect our planet. We feel encouraged to be recognised for our efforts, and it makes us want to work even harder to ensure sustainability is at the heart of every aspect of our daily operations.”

Bob Nolet, 11th-generation family owner and Master Distiller for Ketel One Vodka, says: “I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Penicillin on winning this year’s Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award. Community is at the heart of everything we do at our family distillery – we really do believe in doing and making things better for our community.

“We want to recognise the best bars that are shaping the future of our industry with the best practices in sustainability, inspiring thousands of bars around the world to create a positive impact in their local communities.”


The sustainability rating of each bar is assessed by Food Made Good Global through an evidence-based system designed for 50 Best. All bars on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list and those ranked in the 51-100 list are invited to enter the award via self-nomination. The bar that achieves the highest rating in the assessment receives the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award. The audit has been adapted this year to reflect the impact of the pandemic on bar service.

The sixth edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, sponsored by Perrier, will be announced in a virtual ceremony on 6th May, beginning at 6pm HK/Singapore time (3.30pm India; 5pm Thailand; 7pm Japan). Bar and cocktail lovers are invited to join the digital countdown of the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 through The World’s 50 Best Bars Facebook page and 50 Best Bars TV YouTube channel.

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