Jia is a bartender at Employees Only, Singapore. He makes two cocktails for us, one with Whisky and Frangelico and the second with Gin and Kaffir Lime Cordial.
Jia introduce yourself
I’m Jia from Singapore and I started working in bars five years ago. I was studying electronic computer engineering and worked at a bar part-time where I started on the floor. After I finished my diploma I moved to Bitters and Love full-time where I first started to really work behind the bar. Of course, in between I had to go into the army for two years which is compulsory in Singapore. Thank goodness I am thin, because if you are overweight here you spend longer in the military. The good thing was it gave me the opportunity to spend loads of time reading and studying cocktail books in the evenings. After I finished I saw the ad for Employees Only on Facebook, applied and I was actually the last one to be chosen. I think the military helped me learn discipline and maybe that’s why Steve hired me. I’ve been at Employees Only ever since and feel so lucky to work here.
The classic you want to show us
2 oz of Singleton 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky
0.5 oz of Amaretto Luxardo
0.25 oz of Frangelico
1 dash of Chocolate Bitter
The bar you dream of
I’d want the entrance to be like a speakeasy, so it was a little hard for people to find. The interior would be dark and classy and the space would be quite small with a separate dining area. I’d also steal a couple of ideas from here, like our uniforms and free pouring. My ideal location for my bar would be New York.
What do you do in your time off
I love cooking and spend most of my time off preparing meals for my family and girlfriend. Otherwise I study cocktail books and recipes or visit bars around Singapore.
The spirit you like the most
I’d say whisky and definitely Japanese whisky. I really admire the Japanese and their relationship and appreciation of food and drink. I believe you can feel and taste the love, dedication and craftsmanship in their whiskies.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
Cucumbers because they are light and refreshing which is great in the Singapore heat. They also go well with most spirits, so are good to use in cocktails.
What makes a good cocktail
As Steve taught us a good drink is made by a great bartender and to be a great bartender you need to be a mix of a rockstar, a mixologist and a sage. You need to be entertaining, knowledgeable and know how to interact with your clients.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
1.5 oz of Perry’s Tot Gin
0.75 oz of EO’s Lime Cordial (lime, agave and kaffir lime)
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
In Singapore you should go and meet Jerrold Khoo from Flagship, as he was one of my first mentors. Go to Keepers in Seoul, Korea and of course you must visit Employees Only in New York.