Notes from a cocktail engineer

“I am from Venice Beach, California but I have always considered the Philippines my second home. Back in 2004, I founded, launched, and authored the bartending seminars for Asian Bartending Academy with hopes of professionalizing the nightlife service industry. Since I returned to Manila with my wife and children two years ago, I’ve been serving as a bar consultant and have developed specialty cocktail menus to a variety of clientele such as as 71Gram, Whitehouse Boracay, and Edsa Shangri-La. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I am a cocktail engineer. The whole mixologist term was coined in the 1800s, thus the evolution of the job title.

I grew up behind the bar. My first job when I was barely 21 was bar backing at the exclusive Beach Club in Santa Monica. Some people bartend as a side job or a hobby. I chose, however, to specialize in the bar industry as a profession. I’d like to believe that I bring with me two decades of Los Angeles bar experience and mixology theory from  landmark establishments such as the legendary concert venue, The Music Box at Hollywood Boulevard, among many others.  Manila is only just catching up on the bar culture and cocktail craze. There is lots of potential as customers are developing more sophisticated palates.

I am passionate about concocting cocktails. I use the freshest ingredients and combine flavors available in the Philippine market that are distinctly global to produce a drink that has a very refined original flair.  And when bar consulting for a new place, I like to devise systems to maximize profits as well as discover the unique voice and flow each bar should possess.

With the landscape of the bar industry evolving so rapidly, it is pertinent for any bar to be up to date with the current trends and bar secrets. I have seen firsthand the evolution of the modern cocktail from the regular standards to the artisanal organic fare, which has become extremely popular. For fresh fare to use in all my recipes, I do search high and low around the metropolis, from the farmers markets of Salcedo Village on Saturdays and Legaspi Village on Sundays to the obscure spice stores, where troves of flavorful treasures await. This is really the secret to creating an original and unique cocktail. Every sip of a carefully crafted cocktail should be an experience!

With my latest project at Sunshine Kitchen at the Fort Strip in Taguig, my vision was to create a fun and refreshing cocktail variety with unlikely pairing of flavor combinations for a distinct and unique bar experience. Cocktails you can never experience anywhere else in the metropolis other than Sunshine Kitchen was my number one goal, cocktails  such as the “Totaler,” which combines botanical gin, English breakfast tea with cranberry juice, distinctive yet subtle, a perfect libation to any gathering.  I like the play of words on the name of the cocktail, too—the teetotaler, by definition, is someone that abstains from alcoholic beverages.

The “Outlaw” cocktail, which combines fresh watermelon with red hot chili and oaky tequila, is a mouthwatering drink with a kick that will leave a memorable occurrence on any person's palate. For a uniquely original time during cocktail hour and beyond, Sunshine Kitchen’s latest cocktail offering is as enticing and memorable as they come. Come for a cocktail and share your thoughts.”

The author is chief cocktail engineer at TheBarMansMix.Com. When he is not consulting with Manila’s hottest clubs and bars, he spends his time with his children Sakura and Kenobi and his wife G Tongi Walters. Email thebarmansmix@gmail.com.