Sim Sze Wei is the assistant head bartender at Atlas, in Singapore. He makes two cocktails for us, one with Bacardi and Benedictine and the second with Gin and Champagne Vinegar.
Sim introduce yourself
My name is Sim and I am the assistant head bartender of Atlas Bar in Singapore. Atlas is a gin bar dedicated to the 20’s as you can see with its art-deco design. We do serve other spirits, but as gin was such an important part of cocktails in the 20’s we have focussed on it. You can really see the importance of gin during this time in history in the Savoy book which features 23 cocktails using this spirit. I am relatively new to this industry as afull-time role having previously worked in an International Bank for ten years, while moonlighting after-hours in cocktail bars. My dad was a chef and for me flavours are memories and my palate for food and cocktails is in my blood. In December 2016 I decided to leave the bank permanently and to fulfil my dream of working behind a bar. I almost didn’t get the job at Atlas because I applied for a bartender role and instead was offered a a different role due to my lack of full-time experience. Even so, I went to the interview with Head Bartender Roman Foltan and convinced him to hire me as Senior Bartender. The nearly two years since I joined Atlas Bar have flown and I would like to believe that I have achieved almost every goal I have set for myself when I first left the bank. To date, I have represented Singapore for the Stoli Elit Art of Martini Global Finals 2017 in Ibiza and recently reached the Bacardi Legacy 2018 Global Finals in Mexico. I always say to everyone that if you work hard and passionately follow your dream you will achieve your goals.
The classic you want to show us
20ml of Bacardi Ocho Anos Gran Reserve Rum
20ml of Bacardi Carto Oro Superior Gold Rum
20ml of Benedictine D.O.M.
20ml of Lemon Juice
The bar you dream of
My dream bar would be the one I’ve discussed with my dear friend Charmaine who was interviewed by you last year. A comic/anime/manga/film inspired bar where we take inspiration from characters and situations from that genre in our drinks. It would be a small space so we could really interact with clients and it would be a speakeasy style bar that you enter through a comic bookstore. As I love to cook, I’d hope to be able to develop the food menu with the same quirky concept as the bar program itself. The bar would be in Melbourne or an emerging market like Myanmar or Cambodia.
What do you do in your time off
Food has always been an important part of my life, so on my days off I usually go on a food hunt with my girlfriend or cook up a storm in my kitchen accompanied by good wine or champagne. And I must say food is usually where I find most of my inspiration for my cocktails.
The spirit you like the most
Mezcal. The entire process of Mezcal production intrigues me and its flavour profile varies so much from the different production method and species of Agave. It’s a very assured spirit, but at the same time very flexible for all types of cocktails from short drink to tiki cocktails or any kind of classic. My favourite one right now is Siete Misterios.
What makes a good cocktail
Simplicity, defined flavour, appropriate temperature and balance.
What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
I’ve always been in love with herbal liqueurs like Benedictine, Chartreuse, Suze etc. For me, it adds a layer of consistent complexity as they’ve been made the same way for the last hundred years and very easily replicable anywhere. You can’t do that with your own syrup and keep the exact same flavour profile, you just can’t be that consistent. My favourite one is Benedictine with milk or in a highball.
The signature cocktail you want to show us
60ml of Fords Gin
15ml of Mancino Bianco Ambrato
5 dashes of Champagne Vinegar
2 Dashes of Orange Bitters
Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
There are a lot of respectable bartenders in Singapore whom I have looked up and especially when I was starting out in my attempt to bartend. One of the first few bartenders I followed closely was Kino Soh from Highball, Singapore where she inspired me with her confidence and creativity during her competition days. Another bartender you should keep a look out for is Jayden from Fancy. She’s young, talented, passionate and humble. Last but not least is someone who has also inspired me and that is Sky Huo from Happiness Forgets in London. My first encounter with her was five years ago when she was still in Hong Kong and her hospitality and knowledge is amazing and inspiring.
This is our last interview before the summer break. Have a fab summer and see you for our next interview from Ho Chi Minh/Saigon on the 30th of August. Stay safe and Cheers/Sante