“IT’S LIKE SCIENCE, YOU LEARN THE RULES”
Meet Alex Ko
Bartender at Gough’s on Gough
Aerospace Engineering graduate turned bartender extraordinaire with an obsessive eye for detail, Alex was born in New York to a dad from Hong Kong and a mum from Korea. Far from tiger parenting, his mum encouraged his independence with loose reigns and, a self-taught cook, believed as long as there was a good plate of food on the table the rest would follow.
Elementary school in Korea, British boarding school in Scotland, then onwards and upwards to Boston University and the House Party Years… vodka with orange and cranberry, margaritas and daiquiris fueling the action.
Then…Alex’s true calling came. He’d read about a new wave on the bartending scene called the ice sphere – where bartenders hand-carve ice to fit into a whisky glass in order to control the rate of dilution. Fascinated by the mechanics of the process, he wrote a paper on it for his thermodynamics class. It was his first foray into cocktails, and it stayed with him.
Hong Kong, 2010. Alex began to hone his new passion with casual bar work at the W Hotel, mentored by head bartender Joe Villanueva and Joao Balzani, who became huge influences on him, and stints at the Fatty Crab and The Pontiac. Every minute was spent watching, learning, picking up hints and ideas, using his hard-earned cash to travel and buy ingredients to practice his new skills whilst he continued to self-study the art of bartending between shifts.
After Alex finished his MBA in 2014 he made the decision to commit to bartending, and is now bringing his irrevocable passion to Gough’s on Gough, the first restaurant by Timothy Oulton. He loves the idea of a bar inside a restaurant, adding another layer.
Alex’s methodical approach acts as a foundation for his creativity: “You don’t learn a series of recipes, you learn the rules, the principles. Like science – the laws. With that understanding you can then improvise more effectively.”