Hi, Ken. Tell us something about what you do.
I’m the general manager of Alcohol by Volume (ABV) and Lazy Bastard. Basically, I’m the one who’s managing the place and I’m also helping the bartenders. I’m training them not just to compete but to develop cocktails on the menu and to make sure that we’re giving good service to our guests.
Please tell us about bartending and your journey to becoming the World Class 2015 Global Winner.
Well, the thing about World Class is, it’s one of the most, if not the most prestigious bartending competitions across the globe, so I was honored to be one of the participants this year. When ABV was hiring me, one of their pitching offers was a shot at World Class. I’m like, “Okay. Deal!” When we had the first leg of the competition, it was very stressful since I didn’t have a bar to work out the menus I was going to create for the competition. It was tough for me to start and to build these drinks. Some of them are what we have now at ABV. Just recently, I came back from South Africa. I competed for the Global Finals. We had to do several drinks, like 23 cocktails in total. So it was one hell of a crazy, enjoyable competition for me because I managed to meet a lot of people, showcase whatever we had, and uplift the cocktail scene in Manila.
Can you describe the drinks at ABV?
Our inspiration in doing these cocktails is the “forgotten classics”, but we give it a twist. Cocktails seem to have a lot of things, but it is very simple. We work on the basic formula of making a cocktail where you have your base, your sweetener and your bitter. You have your liquor as your base, which during the prohibition was gin, bourbon, or rye whisky, and then you have your sugar, and then you just add water. Then you add bitters, which, initially was made as an alternative to medicine. We make it more complex by adding bitters and combining different flavors, until we’re actually making our own liquors. We also do cocktails with sour, fresh citrus produce like lemons and limes.
ABV is about having fun, enjoying the craft scene, doing these nice, simple but very elegant drinks that people will enjoy. We’re not only here to do drinks, but we’re also creating the experience.
From the point of entry, we want people to have fun. So that’s what we’re here for.
Interview – Jenette Vizcocho and Dane Raymundo
Text – Jenette Vizcocho