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Secrets of a Successful Bartender Career

Words by Julia Chan

A visit to award-winning Mott 32 revealed critical Bartender 4.0 skills to move to the next level

Image courtesy of Mott 32

In January 2020, Mott 32’s Singapore outpost opened at Marina Bay Sands, adding to Singapore’s vibrant bartending scene which has been making international waves for its impressive selection of top bars that create an unforgettable experience in our Lion City.

Designed by the award-winning Joyce Wang Studio, Mott 32 features a centre-piece bar that offers signature cocktails inspired by Asian ingredients and culture (Image courtesy of Mott 32)

The 146-seater Singapore restaurant is the fifth international outpost (besides Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Seoul, and Vancouver) of the multi-award-winning restaurant. Unique to Mott 32 Singapore is an abundance of greenery paired with porcelain botanical patterns, in a nod to our garden city.

Hanami, a refreshing and fruity cocktail with notes of shiso and addition of ginger beer (Image courtesy of Mott 32)

Named after the first Chinese convenience store on 32 Mott Street, New York which then became the nucleus of Chinatown today, Mott 32 is renowned for its signature approach to regional Chinese cuisine and iconic cocktails such as Hanami and Hong Kong iced tea.

Hong Kong iced tea, a cocktail best paired with spicy Mott 32 dishes such as the spicy Free-Range Chicken (Image courtesy of Mott 32)

These cocktails are usually paired with dishes such as the apple wood roasted Peking duck with Mott 32’s signature cut, and the restaurant’s country-exclusive dishes and Cantonese dim sum items, available daily for lunch, late afternoon, and dinner.

Signature crispy sugar coated Peking duck bun, a dish exclusive to Singapore’s Mott 32 restaurant. The sweet-savoury taste profile of this dish is well-paired with the Nashi cocktail (Image courtesy of Mott 32)

In a Thirsty Tuesday visit to learn about Bartender 4.0 skills, visiting bartenders learnt about technical skills, such as Mott 32’s cocktail pairing with food, and adaptive skills to adjust to the ever-evolving Covid-19 restrictions in the F&B industry, from Timothy Lim, General Manager of Mott 32, and Johan Foong, Bar Manager of Mott 32.

During the Circuit Breaker when dining-in was not allowed, Mott 32 carried out online training for its bartenders tailored to the individual and prepared for re-opening post-Circuit Breaker.

“With the view of the Covid-19 impact, I feel that bartenders and anyone in the F&B line has to upgrade their skillsets with all the new regulations of Social Distancing. Without a clear understanding, some of these regulations can be easily disregarded or ignored. We want to avoid a second Circuit Breaker scenario, and ensure that our customers have a safe environment while they are dining with us,” Lim said.

To support the implementation of Safe Management Measures for F&B Establishments, Lim shared how Mott 32 also looked out for staff welfare, even looking at the little details such as purchasing moisturiser for wait staff who had to frequently wash hands and wear multiple gloves, which had led to dry and cracked skin.

Forbidden Rose, velvety and fruity and a slight hint of spice, this cocktail complements the rich flavours of Japanese Pumpkin, Salty Egg

Foong, who manages a team of five bartenders including himself, shared tips on how aspiring bartenders can succeed in this industry and the key factors that would springboard a bartender’s career.

Mott 32’s cocktail menu was specially created to pair with its signature Asian cuisine

“A bartender has to be proficient in his own menu first and then expand his knowledge in spirits, wine and beer. Eventually he will move up to become a senior bartender or supervisor which usually requires him to display good leadership qualities, like being able to understand how to work under stress, delegate work and being efficient in his work too,” he said.

“Picking up administrative roles and skills such as how to manage inventory and doing costings using software like Microsoft Excel is important, as we handle anywhere from 150 to 400 labels behind the bar. Skills such as conflict resolution, managing customers are necessary to lead and inspire the next generation of bartenders, instead of just focusing solely on creating cocktails,” Foong elaborated to highlight Bartender 4.0 skills that bartenders should pick up.

Fujian Negroni, which features smoky Lapsang Souchong Tea for a slightly stiffer taste with a bittersweet profile. Best paired with Mott 32’ Signature Smoked Black Cod.

Foong encourages the bartenders to serve the tables when possible as they would be able to recommend cocktails to pair with the food directly to diners, keeping in mind Mott 32’s concept as a restaurant bar. From these interactions, bartenders can also customise cocktails based on diners’ requests using the extensive wine and spirit selection.

Free-Range Chicken with Hong Kong Iced Tea

Benedict Tan, a visitor from the Thirsty Tuesday group, praised Mott 32’s usage of unconventional ingredients in cocktails and the bartender’s ability to blend these unconventional ingredients to provide a multi-dimensional taste to the cocktails.

Signature Smoked Black Cod with Fujian Negroni

Another visitor, Mikk Tan, shared the interesting experiences about dining at Mott 32 are the innovative Asian cocktails (particularly the Fujian Negroni, which paired with the dishes well) and the award-winning deco which provided guests a very Asian Hong Kong ambience.

Selections from Mott 32’s cocktail menu:

  • Hanami – Rye Whiskey / Gin / Umeshu / Yuzu / Shiso / Ginger Beer / Chrysanthemum, best paired with Cold Free-Range Chicken, Coriander, Black Truffle
  • Hong Kong Iced Tea – Tequila / Lillet Blanc / Blackcurrant / Jasmine Tea / Basil Seeds, best paired with Free-Range Chicken, Dried Chillies, Szechuan Red Peppercorns
  • Fujian Negroni – Amaro / Aperol / Ginseng / Lapsang Souchong Tea / Sichuan Pepper, best paired with Signature Smoked Black Cod
  • Nashi – Pear Sake / Vodka / Thai Basil / Lemon, best paired with Signature Crispy Sugar Coated Peking Duck Bun
  • Forbidden Rose – Vanilla Infused Pisco / Passionfruit / Lychee / Chilli / Lemon / Egg White, best paired with Japanese Pumpkin, Salty Egg

 

For more information on Mott 32, please visit mott32.com/singapore/

About Bartender 4.0

In 2019, a survey of over 100 professionals revealed the key skills that bartenders ready for the Industry 4.0 should possess, among which were customer interaction (adaptive), molecular mixology beverages and familiarity of cocktail components (technical).

Hence Bartender 4.0 was launched as an initiative by e2i 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 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.

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