“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.

The History Of The Singapore Sling

Singapore-Sling-1The Singapore Sling, widely regarded as the national drink of the country, was first created in 1915 at Raffles Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. Primarily a gin-based cocktail, the Singapore Sling also contains pineapple juice as the main ingredient, along with grenadine, lime juice and Dom Benedictine. Giving it the pretty pink hue are cherry brandy and Cointreau. Bartender Ngiam deliberately chose to give the cocktail this rosy colour.

Following the turn of the century in colonial Singapore, Raffles Singapore was the gathering place for the community and Long Bar was the watering hole. It was common to see the gentlemen nursing glasses of gin or whisky. Unfortunately for the ladies, etiquette dictated they could not consume alcohol in public, and for the sake of public modesty, fruit juices and teas were their preferred beverage.

The talented Ngiam thus saw a niche in the market and decided to create a cocktail that looked like a fruit juice, but was actually infused with gin and other liqueurs. Masking it in pink gave it a feminine flair and together with the use of clear alcohol, he cleverly led people into thinking it was a socially acceptable punch for the ladies. With that, the Singapore Sling was born. Needless to say, it became an instant hit.

This article is republished with the full permission of Raffles Singapore, ( )with the omission of the last paragraph of the original article, as the video links are no longer available. We would also like to mention that Long Bar is now closed due to restoration but the Singapore Sling is now served at its new temporary home, Bar & Billiard Room.