The Yum List gets some behind-the-scenes stories in an interview with Yugnes Susela, Head Bartender of Smoke & Mirrors Singapore.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the Head Bartender of Smoke & Mirrors, the destination bar atop the iconic National Gallery Singapore. I first started out in the F&B scene at the tender age of 16 as a waiter at a Japanese restaurant. I loved the hospitality industry and at 18 years old was given a chance to be a bartender from one of my then-manager. I’ve never looked back since!
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
I once did a cocktail presentation for David Beckham. I froze when I saw him tasting my drink. It was a pretty surreal moment.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
I’ve developed a habit of staying positive even in bad situations. The best part of my job is getting the opportunity to meet with people from different countries and backgrounds and showcase our Playful Eye menu to them. I love getting feedback and coming up with new ideas to improve our cocktail programme.
What’s one of your most memorable drinking experiences?
My favourite drinking experience was in Taipei recently during our Asia Cocktail Tour, at a bar called Fourplay. Being a bartender is an occupational hazard; you tend to analyse the bar that you’re at and compare it with your own. The bar experience at Fourplay was so immersive that it made me forget that I’m a bartender! I just went there to enjoy myself as a customer.
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
I’ve missed a couple of flights during our Asia Bar Tour because of epic cocktail bar hopping adventures the night before.
The perfect day off would…
begin with coffee, followed by a slow lunch, a workout at the gym and end with a few gin & tonics.
A day in the life of a bartender is…
Team meetings on upcoming plans for the bar, mise en place, shaking cocktails, talking to guests and coming up with new drinks and ideas.
What do you do for fun?
I visit the gym, watch Netflix and chill out with my mates.
What’s something you’d like readers to know about Singapore?
Oxwell & Co is my favourite bar in Singapore. They serve Gin & Tonics on tap and have great British bar grub!
What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?
I’m more of a beer than wine kinda guy. I love pairing fried rice from a local ‘tze char’ stall with a pint of cold Guinness, especially in this Singapore heat!
What’s your view on the food and drinks scene in Singapore?
Singapore has overtaken a lot of cities in Asia. I’m proud that Singapore is a city that has good food and drinks – 24/7. The city is a melting pot for aspiring bartenders and chefs and many have started their own places and are getting recognition for them.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
We are in the research and development process working hard on our new menu!