Words by Julia Chan
We find out what sets a Bartender 4.0 aside from the rest!
A Bartender 4.0, AKA a bartender that is ready for Industry 4.0, is not just a person who creates and serves cocktails, but one who takes pride in delighting customers from start to finish. How does a Bartender 4.0 consistently achieve such feats, and what strengths and skills should a Bartender 4.0 have? Furama RiverFront Singapore’s assistant lounge manager reveals the answers in a recent Thirsty Tuesday visit at the hotel’s Waterfall Lounge.
1. Making every visit a memorable one
Making a good first impression gives customers a great reason to visit you again. By greeting and serving customers personally, this is also an opportunity to observe their preferences and personalities as the cocktails are prepared.
Thae Thae, who won the 2019 National Cocktail Competition (NCC) Cocktail Category, explains, “What makes a cocktail better and more holistic, besides the taste and presentation, is the company you’re with and the ambience of the place. Also, multi-tasking and professionalism are important factors for a good bartender. Multi-tasking is the ability to serve two drinks at a go whilst maintaining the good quality and being able to memorise the recipes”.
“I feel that bartenders should go above and beyond to engage their customers – whether it is a display of showmanship or getting out of the bar to explain their cocktails and have good conversations with the customers,” she added.
This sentiment was echoed by visiting bartenders in the Thirsty Tuesday group.
Visiting bartender Calvin Tay, who clinched the 2020 National Cocktail Competition (NCC) Classic Cocktail award, said that being a good bartender isn’t just about making the best and prettiest cocktail. One very important factor in making a person a good bartender would be having the ability to work in and out of the bar to assist with floor operations when necessary as teamwork is very important during operations.
When he visited Furama, he was very impressed how Thae Thae took time to come out of the bar to serve the cocktails, food and to explain what she was serving. “Frequent visits to the table to do quality checks as well was what I was impressed with,” he elaborated.
Bartender Lau Wei Jin, a previous NCC winner and Singapore’s representative for the 2017 IBA World Cocktail Championship in Denmark, highlighted why it is important for a bartender to take the effort to chat with customers. As the bartender serves the cocktails directly to guests, the opportunity describe the components of the cocktail to customers is present; it also allows the bartender to suggest how to pair the cocktail with the food on their menu.
With this knowledge, customers will be able to appreciate and enjoy the cocktails more when they know the ingredients, the amount of care and effort that the bartender took to prepare the cocktails, and pairing with the right food to bring out the subtle flavours of the cocktail.
2. Perfecting the elements of a good cocktail
As the champion in the 31st National Cocktail Competition 2019 (Cocktail Category), Thae Thae is familiar with the elements of award-winning cocktails.
On what makes a good cocktail, Thae Thae shared, “Taste, aroma and presentation. A unique presentation and cocktail decoration with garnishes will leave people with a good impression visually, and it has to be accompanied by an equally good taste, which should be well-balanced”.
Her winning cocktail Pride of Singapore started from an inspiration to use Tiger Beer as she wanted to build a cocktail from a local drink. Pride of Singapore consists of Tiger Beer, gin, Galliano, melon syrup, and tropical fruit juice.
During the Thirsty Tuesday visit, visiting bartenders complimented Pride of Singapore, commenting that it is refreshing and easy to drink especially due to the addition of melon syrup with Lau even mentioning “I cannot stop drinking it”.
On technical skills for aspiring Bartenders 4.0, Lau suggested attention be given to the glassware, such as choosing an appropriate size, shape and pattern of the glass to match the personality of the cocktail. In one example, the classic pattern of the glassware used for the Blood and Sand cocktail suited its personality and taste (described as smooth, chill and not overly strong, sour, sweet, with a strong cinnamon top note).
For garnishes such as mint sprigs that tend to sink easily, he suggested that bartenders could peg the garnish to the side of the glass using a wooden peg, or consider rimming half the glass with coloured sugar or Campari-infused dehydrated sugar.
3. Having a keen interest in learning
Although Thae Thae has won bartending competitions and has five years of bartending experience, she maintains a humble attitude and keen interest in learning. She is grateful that Furama always supports her efforts to enhance her skills in bartending and also gives her the opportunity to widen her bartending experience via competitions both locally and internationally.
“At Furama, there are spaces and resources provided, which makes practising and inventing new cocktails easier. I love experimenting with new recipes and giving existing recipes a twist – it’s interesting to see how switching an ingredient can change the taste of the drink,” she said.
On how she improves her skills, she explained, “Bartending is all about practice – it’s very much a hands-on activity, the more you get used to the movements, the better you’ll become. Other than practising, I think the other key elements to sharpening my skills would be knowledge, research and upgrading myself through classes, courses and books. Knowing my drinks is so important, and during my free time, I read up on the current cocktail trends to keep myself updated”.
“There are resources you can utilize to do so, such as cocktail books to wine guides, classes, seminars both offline and online as well. One of the amazing things about having a career in bartending is that you’re always learning. Whether it’s discovering new ways of communicating and connecting with customers or expanding your skills in cocktail creations, there will always be new knowledge to discover and new abilities to acquire,” she encouraged bartenders who wish to hone their Bartender 4.0 skills.
*Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ABSS has launched a series of Bartender 4.0 e-training videos on its Facebook page for bartenders to learn on the go, anywhere, anytime.
Here are some selections from Furama’s Waterfall Lounge:
- Pride of Singapore — Tiger Beer, gin, Galliano, melon syrup, tropical fruit juice
- Memory of Chengdu — Baijiu, gin, lemon-ginger-honey syrup, yuzu puree, orange juice
- High Noon — White rum, honey, lime juice, sparkling wine
- Blood and Sand — Whisky, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, orange juice
- The Grape Wall — Brandy, vermouth, elderflower syrup, lime juice
- Gummy Gummy — Tequila, Cointreau, Grand Mariner, lime juice, cranberry juice
- Espresso Martini — Vodka, Kahlua, espresso and simple syrup
For more information on Furama’s Waterfall Lounge, visit www.furama.com/riverfront/dining/waterfall-lounge
About Bartender 4.0
In 2019, a survey of over 100 professionals by e2i and ABSS revealed the key skills that bartenders ready for Industry 4.0 should possess, among which were:
- Adaptive: customer interaction, inventory management, cost and quality management
- Technology: digital technologies and automation
- Technical: molecular mixology beverages, food and beverage pairing, familiarity of cocktail components, and cuisines and cultures of the world
Hence Bartender 4.0 was launched as an initiative by e2i with ABSS to upgrade bartenders’ adaptive, technical and technological skills to be prepared for Industry 4.0.
About Thirsty Tuesday
Thirsty Tuesday is a series of visits to Singapore bars which exemplify skills in Bartender 4.0.
These visits, customised for visiting bartenders from various backgrounds, are arranged by Mr David Chan, Honorary Secretary (General) of the Association of Bartenders and Sommeliers Singapore (ABSS), and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).
The aim of Thirsty Tuesday is to expose Singapore’s bartenders to skills under the Bartender 4.0 initiative, and build a network of bartenders across Singapore.