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The art of virtual parties: Tips and tricks from 28 Hongkong Street’s Justin Pallack

There’s more to a virtual party than good food, loud music and lots of booze. We talk to 28HKS’ general manager, who’s been throwing great fetes online.

We’re about a week into Phase 1, and the end is (somewhat) in sight. By now, you’ve definitely been gotten a drink or two to quench your thirst for missed evenings at your favourite watering hole. However, it’s just not the same. For one, you can’t really play anything all that loudly or you might wake up the kids. Thankfully, we’ve got the scoop from a born-and-bred entertainer on how to throw a great house party: Justin Pallack, General Manager of 28 Hongkong Street (28HKS).

Of course, you’ve got to start with the necessaries: that means bar bites and craft cocktails for every guest. Thereafter, a curated playlist to set the mood. The only thing missing – and this is what really makes the difference – is a great host.

To start off, how’s the reception been?

It’s been great. A recent testimonial declared, “I was unsure at first, but this turned into the best night I’ve had in two months”.  Reading that was music to our ears.  The growth of this experience has been nearly all word of mouth:  we’ve gotten to the point where we are booked about two weeks in advance.

What makes your parties so popular?

First off, the atmosphere: we get our guests to make themselves comfortable and set up an environment similar to the bar. That means dim lights and comfortable seats, so they can really feel like they’re with us at 28HKS. After some icebreakers and fun facts, the party usually takes a life of its own – especially once the drinks start flowing. But we’ve got jokes or routines prepared if we need to jumpstart the party. We are prepared.

We’re really trying to create a personalised and fully immersive experience which feels like you’re at a bar with friends, rather than tuning into to a lecture.

28HKS Interview virtual parties 1

What’s a party without great grub?

So who does the hosting?

We always have two of the 28HKS team members involved – one host and one bartender. I’m there as the host, as I would be in the bar, and of course the bartender is very involved in engaging with the guests as well – telling them about the drinks they’re enjoying, answering any cocktail and spirits-related questions and more. If I may say so myself, I do think having a good host is key to a virtual party – personally I have over two decades of experience hosting guests in some sort of bar or nightclub setting. We help our guests feel welcome, we entertain them, and ultimately we bring them all together for a fun and memorable experience – even online.

(Related: Of circuit breakers and cocktails: 5 cocktail recipes for budding mixologists to hone their craft this month)

How’s it compared to real life though?

Yes! I know of no bar experience that has ever felt more intimate between guest and bar team.  I say that as someone who has participated in every single House Party we’ve hosted.  The combination of shared “cabin fever”, participation from the comfort and safety of home and the burning need for connectivity, has created a truly unique & wonderful dynamic.  The most common response from participating guests has been, “…I needed that.”  Some guests like chat and banter, others prefer music and dancing.  We rarely know what we can expect and many guests surprise us with their joie de vivre.  It is a two-way street, as we enjoy these parties as much, if not more, than our guests.

28HKS Interview virtual parties 2

(Related: Stuck at home? Check out these virtual experiences and simulators

The details

28HKS’s parties are available for up to six guests, with every guest receiving an allotment of their award-winning cocktails that are part innovative, part comforting, as well as a selection of moreish American-style comfort food to complement your drinks. To book, Whatsapp 8318=0328 or email findus@hks.com.

Alternatives

We’ve also managed to scrounge up a few other establishments planning virtual parties in their own ways: after all, the best party is really all about how much fun you’re having.

  • 28HKS Interview virtual parties Nineteen80


    Nineteen80

    What better way to say I miss you than Nineteen80’s updated selection of signatures? Fine, a text works just as well - just accompany it with one of the cocktails from the retro, 80’s-vibes bar and club’s I-Miss-You menu, so-named after a mural in their temporarily-shuttered space. With an additional $10 per location for delivery, pick either one of their updated signatures, like Poison Ivy, an herbaceous mix of elderflower liquer, basil, mint and sour plum and gin. Else, you could always just get a jug of the stuff: Purple Rain’s great both as refresher and for a tinge of childhood nostalgia, thanks to the lashes of Yakult within. Of course, what’s a party without music - every order from the bar comes with a QR code to access a mix of retro vibes to accompany your party for the evening.

    Order here.