If you’re familiar with the hospitality industry, you will know one of the most sought-after jobs is working behind the bar. Thanks to generous tips and a music-filled atmosphere, it’s got to be more fun than working inside a hot and manic kitchen, right?
Bartenders have access to all the booze, but they’re also sitting (ahem…standing) in the seat of power because everyone wants to get their hands on said booze. Servers have to be good to their bartenders, if they want their drink orders to come out quickly and correctly. And customers must do the same, especially when you feel chatty after one too many drinks… The bartender’s ears are all you’ve got.
But there’s much more behind those ear-to-ear smiles and warm personalities. What’s New Bali chats with some of Bali’s favourite top mixologists.
What do you like the most about bartending?
Villa Surya Andika – Head Mixologist W Bali – Seminyak (Villa): The art and the passionate lifestyle involved.
Ketut Adi – Makan Place Bali (Ketut): I like that it gives me the opportunity to prepare cocktails while at the same time doing some juggling to entertain the customers.
Wirawan – Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort(Wirawan): The art of mixing drinks is what I love the most about this career.
Komang “Botax” – The Stones (Botax) : That it requires endless creativity and innovation.
Putu Jason – Padma Resort Ubud (Putu): Guest satisfaction. When they ask for five different cocktails, it gives me extra energy!
How would you describe your customers?
Villa: They are happy-go-lucky guests. All the guests are surprised by the drinks I make, especially during our MIA (Mixologist in Action) Friday sessions. When they ask for their favourite base and flavours, I can create a new concoction for them.
Ketut: They are the key to motivating me to improve my skills and knowledge.
Wirawan: Each and every one of my customers has their own sets of characteristics, expectations and personalities – and that usually defines their preferences. What kind of drink, or cocktail, they would like.
Botax: Every guest is different and unique, each one of them enjoys a personalized drink and service. Satisfaction is only met when we exceed their expectations.
Putu Jason – Padma: Each of them are unique in their own ways
What alcohol safety training do you have?
Villa: I have completed master class training about product knowledge.
Ketut: I have learned some alcohol safety from informal knowledge sharing within the team, and based on my previous experiences.
Wirawan: I have successfully completed my E-crystal training for hygiene and sanitation in food and beverage procedures.
Botax: I have participated in short training courses on drinking alcohol responsibly.
Putu: Yes, I have learned about alcohol drinking laws and its basics
What’s your favorite drink to make?
Villa: I love making a Negroni and an Old Fashioned.
Ketut: Any kind of drink that involves a shaking method in its preparation.
Wirawan : A Billabong Angel. The cocktail is inspired by the famous coastline on the western side of Nusa Penida Island. The cocktail is characterized by dragon fruit as its main ingredient that grows in abundance around Nusa Penida.
Botax : Any kind of cocktail with a gin base, with each different flavour and aroma from other alcohol types (for example Juniper berries).
Putu : I love making Margaritas!
What drink would you pair with your restaurant’s specialty dish?
Villa: The Pan-Asian menu paired with a fruity and tropical cocktail. Or the Western steakhouse menu paired with gentlemen-, city-style cocktails.
Ketut: Crackling Balinese Pork Knuckle is our signature dish and is well paired with our signature cocktail, Frozze. It consists of rose wine, strawberry and lemon juice.
Wirawan: That would be an Arak Salacca – a cocktail that perfectly reflects the flavours of our local and traditional spirit from North Bali, blending finely with Salacca homemade Vermouth, and with the finishing touch of smoky cinnamon. It is a perfect pairing with chicken satay, because traditionally most Balinese enjoy drinking arak with grilled meat.
Botax : Gin Martini with a fish dish, since gin is the perfect match for any fish dish.
Putu : It would be a Bloody Mary. The Umami taste will pair really well with any spicy dishes.
And if one of your guests overindulges?
Villa : I would give them lots of water and try to have a conversation to comfort them.
Ketut : I would try to distract the guest from asking for more drinks by talking to them, or walking the guest to the open-air area. We may suggest the guest calls it a night, and call a taxi for them.
Another trick; if the guest still insists on drinking more alcohol, we may give them water instead of vodka. The chances are they will not notice. And we would obviously not charge them for this.
Wirawan: I would suggest they drink young coconut water. This is a great natural remedy that neutralizes any alcohol inside the body.
Botax: I would ask them to stop, and explain what I’m doing is for their own safety – because we care for our guests.
Putu: I would stop serving them cocktails and offer mocktails instead.
What would you do if you suspected an underage person was using a fake ID?
Villa: As is the regulation and policy here, they must be 18-plus when it comes to drinking. I would approach the guests courteously, and chat with them. If I found out they were under age, I would offer a mocktail instead. We have a fun variety of mocktails at the Woobar.
Ketut: Thankfully we have never really had that kind of situation as our customers’ age is usually over 21.
Wirawan: I would give them some positive advice, and give them some insight into alcohol, and how it can affect those who are underage.
Botax : I would ask the guest for their ID, and offer mocktails instead.
Putu : I always ask for ID before I serve alcohol.
How to stop a guest from over-sharing their stories with you?
Villa: I would look around and show them I am busy handling other guests’ orders.
Ketut: I usually say “Sorry Sir, or Ma’am, I need to cut short our conversation as I need to take an order,” or go help a colleague with an order.
Wirawan : First, I would try to approach them attentively and be a good listener. After a while when they seem like they’re sharing too much, or going too deep into their personal matters, depending on the person, I would jokingly tell them in a friendly way, “Hmm… slow down… Other guests may hear that,” and give them a wink. I would then try to change the conversation to a more acceptable subject matter.”
Botax: We cannot immediately stop the guest when they are talking, however, we can be a good listener and still show them respect.
Putu: I would politely excuse myself, explaining that I have something to do and will be back to him or her later.
True or false: Bartenders know all their guests’ secrets?
Ketut Adi: It is true that most of the time guests share their stories with the bartender while drinking at the bar, but not all of them are here to drink and tell. But no matter if is true or not…our lips are sealed.
Botax: There’s some truth in it, but not all guests share their stories.
True or false: All Bartenders are bad boys
Ketut: False, I know a lot of my friends who are also bartenders, they are good people, from a family-orientated person to a humble skillful bartender.
Wirawan: False. But Bartenders never tell…
Botax : False, we maintain a professional attitude to provide the best service.
True or false: All bartenders are extroverts
Villa: False. Some can be introverted.
Ketut: False, I believe passion doesn’t take a side whether it goes to someone introverted or extroverted. Anyone, both introverted and extroverted, can be passionate about bartending and become a bartender.
Botax : True, that is a part of our service to make sure guest satisfaction. We have to be approachable while maintaining a professional attitude.