Zero Waste Boozing? Hong Kong’s First Closed Loop Bar Penicillin To Open Doors

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Hong Kong’s first-ever bar operating using a closed-loop model of production is slated to open this month. Called Penicillin, the sustainable bar will offer an entire menu of minimal-waste cocktails made with locally sourced or upcycled ingredients, contrasting the traditionally wasteful F&B industry.

Named after the antibiotics developed in the 1940s that represented a milestone breakthrough in medicine, Penicillin, which is set to open its doors on Hollywood Road on October 20, is on a mission to lead a breakthrough, this time, in the drinks industry. Unlike conventional waste-heavy bars, Penicillin is dedicated to championing a closed-loop model of production, which means creating low-waste cocktails using upcycled, locally sourced ingredients. 

The name “Penicillin” is also a nod to a cocktail served up by famed New York bartender Sam Ross, made from lemon juice, fresh ginger and scotch whisky and touted to be a “cure-all” drink. 

The new bar is the brainchild of industry veterans Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale of Soho hotspot The Old Man fame, alongside Laura Prabowo, Katy Ghale and Betty Ng of Hong Kong-based architectural firm Collective. The space itself will showcase the behind-the-scenes “experimental” cocktail production process, showing guests the trials and errors that have taken place to pioneer how sustainability is incorporated into Hong Kong’s bar scene. 

In one part of the room, for instance, is a “Fermentation Chamber”, a room where visitors can observe the processes of ingredient fermentation using upcycled byproducts from common and kitchen waste, and ingredients that can be constantly reused, regrown or self-brewed. The waste that the Penicillin does produce will then be repurposed into new products such as soap and sanitisers in order to minimise its footprint as much as possible. 

“The concept is Hong Kong’s first eco-conscious bar focusing on the lab, bar, kitchen, and a fermentation room,” co-founder Prabowo told Time Out. “We will be recycling and upcycling every ingredient as much as possible to create a closed-loop concept.”

With the broader F&B industry taking a huge hit from the coronavirus pandemic induced closures and falling foot traffic, it could be that a new sustainable approach will help attract consumers back to the bars. In the wake of the crisis that has raised environmental awareness amongst even mainstream Hongkonger bar-goers, it’s a bet that could be good for both the business, but more importantly, the planet. 

Lead image courtesy of Penicillin.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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