Charmaine Thio: 28 Hong Kong Street (Singapore)

Charmaine is a bartender at 28 Hong Kong Street, Singapore. She makes two cocktails for us, one with Gin and Suze and the second with Pisco and Aperol.

Charmaine introduce yourself
Hey I’m Charmaine and I got into bartending for the same reason everyone does… the girls. I originally studied english literature at university and worked in a bar part-time. I realised that bartending was much more than just pouring a couple of different ingredients into a glass and after many hours listening to bartenders express their passion and knowledge, I decided to change my career path. So, I stopped looking for a journalism role and started working at Ah Som full-time in the kitchen and as a bar back until I moved to the bar. It was a great learning experience as it was a small place and we were all doing various jobs as required. One day I approached Joe Allessandroni, (the Creative Director of 28) and asked if they had an opening behind the bar,  but unfortunately they did not at that time. Three months later they did and I will be forever grateful Joe remembered me and gave me a call. That was over two years ago and I’ve been here ever since.

The classic you want to show us
White Negroni
45ml of Citadelle Gin
22.5ml of Suze
23.5ml of Cocchi Americano
Spray Vegetal Elixir

The bar you dream of
I want to open a bar with a former colleague of mine and we talk about what we’d do all the time. We want to open somewhere really nerdy and geeky based around comics, films and manga. It would just be a really fun, cosy, eclectic, organic space… like a crazy persons study. We’re both massive foodies, so there would definitely be food to accompany our geek-inspired drinks. We want to create cocktails like a Jar Jar Binks served in a jar and funny drinks like that. I’d love to open the bar in Belgium as I think it’s really pretty and I love shitty weather.

What do you do in your time off
I love cocktails, so even on my days out I tend to go to bars and see my friends. 28 is like home, so I always gravitate back here even on my days off. My one source of exercise right now is pole dancing which I try to do in my spare time, although sometimes it’s hard to get motivated due to our long hours.

The spirit you like the most
I prefer to make cocktails with mezcal, because I love the diversity. I enjoy seeing the surprise on someone’s face when they try it and are not expecting the flavour they experience. My favourite at the moment is tobala, it’s the long, skinny agave.

What makes a good cocktail
Essentially I think balance makes a good cocktail and creating a drink your client likes.

What ingredient do you enjoy using in cocktails
I’ve been playing around a lot with elixir vegetal, which is like a super intense version of green chartreuse. You only have to use a tiny amount and I tend to use it in an atomiser. It gives a wonderful depth and nose to a drink.

The signature cocktail you want to show us
The Instant Star
45ml of Pisco infused with Dill
15ml of Pineapple Gum
15ml of Lemon Juice
15ml of Aperol
Top with Beer

Where do you think we need to go to interview another bartender
Right now I think someone that’s doing really, really cool stuff in Singapore is Vijay from Native. He worked at Operation Dagger so has the cool science knowledge, but every morning he goes out and forages for ingredients or random items he wants to work with. I think he’s going to be huge in 2017. You should also go to Operation Dagger, Manhattan and Skinny’s while you are here.