“I always live by this quote from Bar Codes, ‘There are no shortcuts to mastering my craft, it takes years of sweat, blood, tears before you earn the right to be called a bartender.’”
CHUG: How did your journey to becoming a bartender begin?
PRATHIP: I started working in the F&B industry some 10 years ago, and was asked to choose to specialize at the bar or in the service line. At that time, I just chose to specialize at the bar because I felt that I had more to learn in that respect, and that it was more interesting.
CHUG: So, what the initial years of bartending like?
PRATHIP: As with any trait, the initial years were extremely tough. I remember starting out, having to bust out 20-30 cocktails in 1 evening, hardly knowing anything. At that time, I learnt through a lot of reading and experimenting with drinks in my free time. Mixology wasn’t as popular at that time, and the information wasn’t as readily available on the internet as it is now, so a lot of us who started out in the industry were mostly self-taught, or learnt on the job.
CHUG: In your opinion, what defines a mixologist?
PRATHIP: I hear this term being thrown around a lot, and I guess the term ‘mixologist’ has evolved, and will continue to do so. To me, a mixologist must be able to create his (or her) own recipes, understand balance in the cocktails they, make use of freshly made ingredients, and also make his (or her) own bitters from scratch.
CHUG: So, what is the difference then between a mixologist and a bartender?
PRATHIP: As the name suggests, the bartender, tends the bar. In the sense, a bartender must ensure that the bar is well-stocked, and that things run smoothly behind the bar. In addition, the bartender must entertain the bar’s patrons and must move fast. Personally, I feel that both the mixologist and bartender must work together in order for a successful operation.
CHUG: Many young people these days want to strike out on their own in the F&B industry. Do you have any tips aspiring mixologists?
PRATHIP: Travel, visit, read, and keep practicing. Travel in order to find inspiration (and be prepared that these travels are always out of your own pocket) because new discoveries always inspire new creations. Visit bars to keep abreast with what other people are doing – to build a community that you can learn from. Read to revise old techniques or discover new techniques and trends. I cannot stress practice enough. While it is nice to create a new drink, you cannot find that perfect balance until you have practiced your techniques enough.
Catch Prathip in action at The Single Cask at CHIJMES, where he busts out classic cocktails with a twist. We guarantee, you will be ordering seconds and thirds.