Enter Your Email To Receive Our Awesome Newsletter
and stand a chance to win great prizes!

Welcome to our continuing series: Bar Mavericks where we get up close and personal with some of the industry’s shining stars responsible for the ongoing transformation of the bar scene across Asia.

Join Chris Marshall as he goes in for a no-holds-barred Q&A with Andrew Loudon, Tippling Club Head Bartender & Group Bar Manager

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING IN F&B?

There are a multitude of things that I love about working in F&B especially working behind a bar. Growing up I suppose that I was quite a shy teenager at first, but I always remember that I loved the social interaction and the atmosphere of bars and restaurants that my family would take me too. I remember being on holiday in the south of France when I was around 12 or 13, we were sat at a really cool English style pub and I remember thinking to myself back then that I would love to own a place like that one day.

I started out in the F&B industry when I was around 16 years old in my hometown of Scunthorpe in the UK. I’ve always loved to host people, it’s a skill that I suppose came naturally after learning the ropes at my first real bartending job in Manchester. Being able to meet new people every single service from different industries, different walks of life etc means that every single day is always a different experience for me.

I’ve always liked variety and being able to offer a different experience or cocktail each time a guest comes in is great, I love to vary my recommendations from customer to customer, which leads me to another part of the industry that I love, the history of it all and classic cocktails.

Bartending has always given me an incredible way to engage with the creative side of things. Whether in the form of cocktail creation, menu development, brand work or in general service during operations.

I’ve always been a bit of a history buff though as well, my favourite subjects in school were, sport and history. Ever since I first started behind a bar, I’ve always found the history of spirits, products and cocktails fascinating. Knowing hidden classic cocktails and being able to tell an entertaining story of how a spirit or product came about or just even engaging with customers and being able to recommend different products based on what they like etc is really…..

 

WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL QUALITIES TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN F&B, IN YOUR OPINION?

Be able to hold a good smile and have a welcoming aura. Everybody likes a good smile and being able to disarm people the moment they walk into your venue is incredibly important. As a server, you’ll never know what kind of day a customer has had when they walk into the venue.

They could have had a terrible day at the office etc so being able to put someone at ease immediately will help repair their day and put them into a happier state of mind – which will then translate into them enjoying their time at your venue.

Every bar is a shared space and the bartender is the person that sets the tone. If guests are rude the bartender can’t react in the same way. But if that affects the rest of the guests then the bartender has to take action and get them to leave, so that the bar doesn’t become an unpleasant place to be!

Thankfully, difficult customers are rare but they do give a bartender the opportunity to turn them into friends, and perpetuate the reputation of being able to host a bar with a welcoming atmosphere and great drinks, where people will always come for a good time. The F&B industry is a great community and as such we should help each other. Guests love recommendations of other great bars/places to meet and a ‘connection’ an helping them to discover new places is always a privilege.

A bartender’s key skills are to smile and be polite. If a bartender can’t be bothered to be polite, they probably can’t be bothered to make you a good drink either.

 

ANDREW’S 10 ESSENTIAL QUALITIES TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN F&B

A passion to go above and beyond – meeting expectations is one thing, going above a customer’s expectations will make them recommend the venue and the product more and more.

1.Listen – not all customers or even colleagues will tell you everything – numerous times I’ve overheard guests saying that it’s their birthday or someone in their group’s birthday, this is the easiest time to exceed expectations.

2.Communicate – whether it be with a customer or with colleagues, being able to communicate easily and clearly will make sure everyone is on the same page

3.Research – I love knowing about all the products that we have in the bar and taking the time to read and research about each one will mean little anecdotes are formed for each of the products.

4.Test, Test, Test and Test Again – the first iteration of a new cocktail is never ever going to be the best one. If I’m creating a new infusion or distillation or syrup, testing is key. I do five separate tests of varying strengths, test the cocktail with each one, have colleagues taste each and then decide which is the best.

5.Knowledge, Knowledge – you are only as good as what you know. Know all the products you stock. Understand the differences between products and techniques. Learn all new products as they arrive. Be complete with your cocktail knowledge. Train yourself continually. Be motivated.

6.Personality – as much as drinks are important, people will always go back somewhere where the bartender had personality and gave great service. You may not want to go back to the place where the drink was fantastic, but the bartender was an arsehole!

7.Attitude – attitude is very easily conveyed through body language and service and customers will easily pick up on the bad vibes being distributed by grumpy staff. Karma can be a real bitch, so make sure you want to be where you are.

8.Product – Know what distinguishes what and how it differs, be able to tell stories that show not only that you take your job seriously but that you care.

9. Don’t Jump on Bandwagons – a bit more of a difficult one but sometimes it’s good to buck the trend. Just because one person says something is the next big thing and awesome doesn’t make it so.

10.Test Your Palate and Taste your Products - (you can never do this enough). If you are told that it’s distilled from unicorn tears and aged in the cellars of Nirvana, it doesn’t necessarily make it good! It may be that they’ve added enough sugar to make your teeth rot and cooked the whole thing with some oak chips!

 

About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall is a well-known cocktail aficionado on the Singapore and Southeast Asia bar scene, and partner at Distilled LLP, an independent, Singapore-based brand development agency representing spirit brands both locally and regionally.

Comments

No comments yet.

x
x