Why We Need Celebrity Bartenders

Categories: Gastronomy;
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It takes skill to know flavors and textures one by one, and be able to put them all together into a dish that is both pretty and gastronomic. That’s why chefs and restaurants get their Michelin stars or just become famous.  Given the thought that has gone through every delightful dish, it only makes sense that you pair it with a drink that’s just as well-thought of.

En-Route-501-Must-Drink-Cocktails-Published-by-Bounty-Books-of-Octopus-Publishing-Group-Great-Britains-6662

Who makes the drinks?  Who designs them?  Who decided to make an iced version of tea, put in a splash of lemon, and garnish it with a lemon wheel?  We dare say, he is an unsung hero in this day and age of culinary exploration.  Some call him a bartender, others a mixologist.  Either way he, and the rest of his kin, are geniuses.

In other countries, like in Singapore, celebrity bartenders are recognized just the same as their pan-wielding contemporaries – at least in your underground bar scene. Just like Michael Callahan, who concocted 28 Hong Kong’s Hard to Port – a drink with porter beer reduction, rye whisky, and egg whites. Fantastic.  Not to say we don’t have the talent here in Manila.  As a matter of fact, we do.

Las Flores Tapas Bar Fort Bonifacio Philippines_130814-3

Take the example of Edison “Dodie” Bolante.  He used to be the head bartender for Rocket Room.  Look for his creation, the Rocket Fuel, a white pepper-infused tequila drink.  He was also part of Amber Ultralounge before and can now be seen at Las Flores in One McKinley in Fort Bonifacio.  While not his original creation, he can mix a mean Moscow Mule, a ginger-flavored cocktail (to be credited to Giancarlo Mancino, a Hong Kong-based mixologist).

Blind-Pig-Speakeasy-Bar-Restaurant-Salcedo-Street-Makati-City-Philippines-9651 Blind-Pig-Speakeasy-Bar-Restaurant-Salcedo-Street-Makati-City-Philippines-9649 Blind-Pig-Speakeasy-Bar-Restaurant-Salcedo-Street-Makati-City-Philippines-9629

Other stars on our list are the bartenders at the Blind Pig and Exit Bar.  While they cater to different markets (with matching different price points), the knowledge of flavors and techniques are the same.  Ian of the Exit Bar can whip up a Vesper upon request.  No doubt Tog and Joey of Blind Pig can do the same, especially since they have a more extensive arsenal of alcohol.  I’ve tasted the best Strawberry Caipiroska here.

As a matter of fact, bar owners come over to the Blind Pig and challenge these guys every so often, only to always be mesmerized that they can whip out interesting cocktail recipes. These guys are invited to bars and given drinks, in the hopes that they can also be impressed.

Prohibition Liquor Lounge Greenbelt Makati City Philippines-7628 Prohibition Liquor Lounge Greenbelt Makati City Philippines-7602

Dillinger 1903 Steak & Brew’s head bartender, Allanking Roxas, is a Diageo World Class 2013 Champion.  His DIllinger’s Sour was both pretty and won over the whisky lovers easily.  What one me over was his winning Ketel One Vodka Mangave, a beautiful mango drink with some lime juice and agave syrup.  Its prettiness is forever etched in my mind.

Prohibition Liquor Lounge Greenbelt Makati City Philippines-7598 Prohibition Liquor Lounge Greenbelt Makati City Philippines-7590

 

And in 2014, Diageo’s Annual World Class Bartender of the Year crowned a new champion: Joma Rivera of The Curator. His winning drink “Win or Go Home” brought him to London for the World Class Bartender Global finals, where he competed with the other bartenders of the year. Needless to say, the expeerience changed his life, as well as the Philippine bartending scene. The world stood to pay attention to Manila.

We remember the drinks, but we do get curious about who the brains are behind some of our favorite cocktails.  They definitely deserve celebrity status in our books.  Without them, how would we ever discover the flavor profiles of the wonderful world of alcohol and spirits?  They continue to inspire us to improve our own attempts at mixing.  We raise our glasses to them and say, “Our compliments to the bartender.”

 

Other watering holes to try:

  • Mad for Garlic W Global Center Fort Bonifacio Philippines_130910-1Long Bar at Raffles Makati
  • Barcino: Pair some bacon-wrapped shrimp with your drink of choice
  • Beso: Their sangrias are easy to drink but can still inebriate you after a few glasses.
  • Mad for Garlic: No, no garlic in the drinks.  But you’ll want them anyway.  Highly recommended are the Yakusoju Cocktail and Jim’s 7th Heaven.

 

 

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9 comments

  1. […] Finally, we won’t tell you that its introduction to the Philippine bar scene, together with its Blind Pig sister, seek to uplift our level of appreciation of cocktails, to recognize that bartending is as much a craft as being a revolutionary chef in the industry. […]

  2. […] drink, as much as they know how to converse in well structured English. These are learned men (celebrities in their own right) with great stories to tell if you decide to hang out in the bar to watch them put on a […]

  3. […] up with some signature cocktails thanks to their award winning bartender Allan King Roxas (See now why we need to recognize bartenders as celebrities? Cocktail recipes won’t be pushed to higher levels of sophistication without them). Try what […]

  4. […] What’s the great thing about these drinks? They are conceptualized exclusively by Mad For Garlic Philippines. A testament that the anonymous guy shaking ice and serving cocktails by the bar needs to be known and recognized as t…. […]

  5. […] Interviews with Bar Tenders. Wow we seriously need to appreciate them more. […]

  6. […] Recognizing bartenders as much as world class chefs has always been an advocacy here. More than being nameless John Does at the other side of the bar churning and shaking up a concoction for inebriety, there is more to being a bartender. You ingrain to yourself the basics of being precise in your measurements to make complex flavors. You study and experiment the infinite permutations of ingredients to make an original you can be known for. And lastly, you  practice learning how to read people who sit by the bar and give them a drink that is perfect for that given moment. And that is just a few of the things you have to learn. […]

  7. […] Hosted by Remy Cointreau International, the most promising bartenders of the Philippines, (a place slowly gaining the attention of the world with mixology creations spewing out of the bars), put their best foot forward, proving the point that bartenders are starting to become rock stars in their own right: […]

  8. […] their talent, skill, and flair as something that people follow like some sort of underground cult. Celebrities in their own right, bartenders have now become a make-or-break component for the top bars in the metro, with their […]

  9. […] The team couldn’t ask for a better way to send them off to Bangkok, and ultimately, one of them to Cape Town. This annual contest has always brought out the best of each and every bartender that has decided to join, and with it, a cask load of experience that will never be replicated by any quantity of cocktails mixed, shaken, stirred, or strained. And every year that passes, all the more that the region is beginning to recognize the Philippines as the hub where talents are brewed to become world class bartenders. […]

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