Cedric P. Cello

  • Bartender
  • Hooch bar is located at V Corporate Center, 125 L.P. Leviste Street, Makati City
  • Smith Butcher & Grill Room is located at ACI Building, HV Dela Costa St, Salcedo Village, Makati

Cedric Cello of Hooch Bar is our country’s representative to the regional finals of the La Maison Cointreau competition in Phuket, Thailand.

Hooch's Cedric Cello mixing up cocktails for the night
Hooch’s Cedric Cello mixing up cocktails for the night

You could say that he started bartending by accident. He was applying as a supervisor at Hooch, but was told that the only available spot was for a bartender position. He decided to give it a shot, since he had some knowledge of classic cocktails, being a manager at a restaurant before and having to know how to handle all aspects of operation. He took to it like a duck to water. Under the tutelage of Hooch proprietor Icy Mariñas and then head bartender Anthony White, Ced blossomed into his new role. He eventually moved to bartend at Smith Butcher and Grill and Ebeneezers at The Fort before returning to Hooch.

Fairly new in the industry, having only been bartending full time for two years, Ced has developed a lot as a bartender. Third time’s the charm, Cointreau being the third competition he joined (Bacardi and Diageo being the first two). His winning cocktail was Gossip, a refreshing drink made of Cointreau, Greygoose L’ Orange, basil leaves, green mango, watermelon, Giffard watermelon, and angostura bitters.

la-maison-cointreau-phuket
La Maison Cointreau bartenders during their first night in Phuket, Thailand

For the regional completion, there will be three rounds over two days. They were only given the theme for one round, which is to make a margarita with a Thai twist. The next two rounds will be a surprise. “I don’t know what they’re going to have us do. All I can do is be as prepared as I can,” says Ced. “I brought all of the things I think I will need and I have my bar tools. You have to be comfortable with what you’re using.”

He goes into the competition with a calm head and a lot of preparation. “I’m comfortable talking in front of people so I won’t be nervous about that. I’ve researched the brand and reviewed techniques,” he shares. “I think all one can do is be confident with what you know, be prepared, systematic and execute the drink well. I think that’s the only thing that will take you to the next round.”

Ced is a bit of a triple threat. Not only is he a bartender, but he also has had extensive experience as a server and barista. “I’m going to use all my experience and go into the competition with all that I have.”

He considers his mentors as his edge in the competition. “I was trained by top caliber bartenders like Anthony, Sophie Douse (formerly of Smith), Jay Doy (formerly of Hooch), Sam Webster (of Hooch), and of course Ms. Icy. I think I’m very lucky that I got that kind of training,” he added.

“Being the country’s representative to the regional finals in Thailand is a big privilege,” Ced shares. “Competing in another country is a big bonus for me, and if I win, or even if I don’t, I’ll treasure this experience.”

What makes a good bartender?

“For me, being a good bartender, first you should have knowledge of the drinks, of course. Also being adventurous, try something new and not be afraid to make a mistake. Do lots of research. You should also be able to read your guest, have a connection. And don’t hesitate to try a new thing because that will be your edge.”

If you were a cocktail, what cocktail would you be?

“Old Fashioned. Because it’s bold, spirit-forward. At the same time, it’s a classic and timeless. I want to be like that, that I would be in the industry for a long time and leave a lasting legacy.”

Favorite bar tool?

“Mixing glass. You can control the dilution in a mixing glass. At the same time, it’s also very elegant. And I like drinks like Negroni or Old Fashioned. I like stirred drinks.”

Who would you like to drink with?

“I would want to drink with other bartenders. Because you can learn from each other while you’re drinking. You’re enjoying and learning new stuff. The bartenders here aren’t selfish. So they give different knowledge and advice. Like some bartenders have sent me messages about the competition, giving me advice and key points. Like how to deliver the drink, different techniques to speed up the delivery of cocktails.”

What sets Filipino bartenders apart from the rest?

“Being a bartender here in the Philippines, we treat each other like brothers. Even in a competition, there’s no bad blood. You just do your best and they will support you. Whoever wins, everyone is happy. It’s like playing in a way, and you learn and get new friends and connections at the same time.”


Favorite bar: Nightjar, Hooch, Smith, and Mandalay

Favorite drink: Old Fashion, Negroni. (Non alcoholic) Bora bora and watermelon ginger cooler

Signature drinks: Who Ced?, Mi Legado, Bless You, Marrion, Allyanas Sangria, and Gossip

Years in bartending: Two years

Dream customer: Hidetsugu Ueno (Japan) one of the top 10 greatest mixologist in the world


Check out the recipes he shared with DrinkManila this month  Lakan Lambanog infused with Paris Tea and Gossip 

 

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