Son Tinh Interviews: The Sofitel Metropole’s mixologist Nguyen Ho Quy

A legendary bar demands legendary cocktails. And with a Son Tinh rice spirit margarita, this mixologist is creating something unique, traditional and trendy that perfectly fits the bill…

Countless stories have been told inside the Sofitel Legend Metropole’s bar.

Since its construction by the French in 1901, Hanoi’s Metropole hotel has been one of Vietnam’s most distinguished sites. Nestled in the romantic French quarter, it’s been a momentary home to many prominent heads of state, ambassadors and celebrity guests.

Its colonial architecture conjures vivid memories of a bygone era in the nation’s history. And with the hotel’s legacy in mind, it’s now mixologist Nguyen Ho Quy who carries the hotel’s storied heritage on his shoulders as he serves cocktails with evident pride at the Bamboo Bar.

He’s been mixing here since 2012, just after the bar was rebuilt and a long-forgotten bomb shelter was rediscovered — the refuge was used with regularity after its construction in the 1960s, but when the war ended, so did the need for protection. The bomb shelter has since been restored and is now open to guests of the hotel.

Back in 1932, Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard spent their honeymoon at the hotel shortly after marrying in Singapore.

“We serve a Charlie Chaplin and a Graham Greene martini,” says Quy, as he shakes and stirs the celebrity’s namesake cocktails wistfully.

This is an image of the Graeme Greene cocktail at the Bamboo Bar in Hanoi

The Graham Greene cocktail at the Sofitel Metropole’s Bamboo Bar in Hanoi

“They would often come to this bar. Graham Greene always drank a dry martini, so we gave his name to his favourite cocktail… It is also my favourite cocktail to make.”

The bar’s Charlie Chaplin cocktail consists of a dry gin, apricot brandy and a twist of lime juice. The Graham Greene martini combines gin, crème de Cassis, martini extra dry and raspberry sherbet. Quy still follows the exact martini recipe that Graham Greene enjoyed while he penned The Quiet American during his stay in 1951.

In addition to these classics that have stood the test of time, there is one traditional yet trendy concoction on the Bamboo Bar’s menu that Quy holds dear to his heart.

“I mix Cointreau, lime juice and then substitute a typical tequila with Son Tinh Minh Mang for our margarita,” Quy says, beaming with patriotic pride.

This is an image of a mixologist pouring Son Tinh Minh Mang to replace tequila in his margarita cocktail at the Metropole in Hanoi

Mixologist Quy pours Son Tinh Minh Mang to replace tequila in his margarita

“The Son Tinh spirit is the one with the Vietnamese spirit. Son Tinh provides new flavours — a welcome difference in taste to our margarita cocktail.”

This is an image of Son Tinh rice liquor being used to replace tequila for the Bamboo Bar's margarita in Hanoi

Quy’s Son Tinh to replace tequila at the Metropole in Hanoi

For us, there is no better story that defines both our spirits than that of Nguyen Ho Quy and the legendary Metropole. The hotel, Nguyen Ho Quy and Son Tinh share the same drive to bond the traditions of old Vietnam with the country’s rapidly changing landscape.

We welcome Nguyen Ho Quy to the Son Tinh family of mixologists.

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