Don't have plans for Saturday night? Patpong Road, the bar founded by restaurant group 50 Eggs and located above Khong River House, is celebrating its first anniversary with free well and signature Laidee drinks till midnight. Laidee drinks come in a cool plastic bag and mix the Chinese spirit Bye Joe with tropical juices and fruit. The weekend is looking up all of a sudden.
John Kunkel is a man of many restaurants, but Patpong Road was his first foray into the wonderful world of cocktails. Inspired by his travels to Bangkok and its notorious red-light district, Patpong Road has been a favorite among locals this past year. In fact, it was New Times' choice for best new bar.
We chatted with Kunkel about Patpong's first year and its future.
New Times: How does it feel having your first anniversary at Patpong?
John Kunkel: I can't believe it's been a year since we opened -- it has flown by! It has been a fun project to undertake. We always envisioned the upstairs of Khong River House turning into the locals hangout that it has become.
What expectations did you have for the first year, and were they met?
We are in a good place, but we have greater goals. We want to continue to evolve. Patpong is a creative outlet for us, and we look forward to trying out new programming ideas and different use for the space, including live music and private events.
You've opened many restaurant concepts, but Patpong has been the first bar concept. How does operating a bar and the day-to-day differ from that of a restaurant?
I started in the bar business, so it is a bit like coming home. Staying relevant is key. Keeping it fresh, new, and different is what we strive for daily. After owning other concepts on Miami Beach, I've learned that bars and lounges have many similarities to restaurants, including clientele and keeping up with the frequent change of seasons. We aim to cater to our local guests at Patpong. The main difference is the importance of entertainment and a solid music program.
What's been the biggest challenge from going from food to drinks?
We have always delivered dynamic and innovative cocktail programs. Spinning it into its own space was what made this project, I wouldn't say a challenge, but a unique undertaking. We built a program that could take on a life of its own based on the surrounding and space.
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How do you see Patpong evolving in Miami's growing cocktail culture?
I'd like to think 50 Eggs has been an active part of Miami's cocktail evolution for some time and we will continue to be an important player. We were the first to have a bourbon bar in Miami with Yardbird, our focus on Gin at Khong has been recognized nationally, and we have been a part of the rise of rum flavors at Swine. We push ourselves to be innovators, and Patpong will be along for the 50 Eggs ride, as we continue to evolve the concept and its programming.
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