Tell us how you did you end up bartending as a career?
I'm sure I'm speaking for a majority when I say bartending was never a job that a six-year-old would go "When I grow up, I want to be a bartender!".
But it sort of just happened for me. I first took it up part time during my studies as a way to get extra cash. Soon I realised I really loved and enjoyed every part of it — being in a creative space, making drinks, the creative process, interacting with people and customer service. Those things made me really happy. and if I could be happy and still make a career out of it, why not?
What are some challenges that you have faced, being a female bartender?
One of the challenges that I have faced being a female bartender is the incessant need to be defined as a female bartender — to be defined by my gender. Male bartenders are never called male bartenders, so I don't see why it shouldn't be the same for myself or other females in the industry.
While I appreciate the attention and effort and understand that it stems from greater intentions, so long as we keep going back and forth with the female label, there will always be a separation between the genders. Which in turn becomes detrimental to the cause.
However apart from that, with what I do on a day-to-day basis and within the space of my work, I have never felt like I was ever at a disadvantage.
What is the most sexist remark you have received?
Probably when I was trying to give a drink recommendation to a customer and she told me to call for one of the men instead because "they would know better".
In a male dominated industry, how do you think female bartenders can thrive and excel?
Female bartenders can thrive and excel by not limiting themselves to their gender and not let stereotypes hold them back. But also, we shouldn't put labels on industries, because women can do the job just as well as men and vice versa. I am a firm believer that where work is concerned at least, it's not about your gender, your sexuality, your race, or your religion, none of that matters. It's about how you work — regardless of who and what you are.
What's your signature drink to make? Tell us more about how that came about.
My signature drink would probably be the natural wines selection of the menu. With the natural wines, it was actually a very organic process whereby we first started out trying to give oxidized wine a second life by re-flavoring it to lower waste — an attempt at being more sustainable. It then slowly evolved into a more self-sustainable approach.
As a panelist this year for #50BestTalks, what do you think about Singapore's bar scene?
For such a tiny city, we hold 12 spots in Asia's 50 Best Bars. Aside from that we also have a couple of other local bars that do what they do and do it really well. But even with an ever-expanding bar scene, I can't think of two bars that does the exact same thing. So while there are a lot of great cocktail bars around in the small vicinity of the city, it has never once felt like we were in competition with each other, but rather have formed a close-knit community.
A word of advice to aspiring female bartenders.
In your profession you should never be defined by anything else other than how you work.