Today is International Women’s Day, and we’d like to give the spotlight to the female bartenders in our local drink industry. Get to know the women who work hard behind the stick to cater to your favorite drinks.

  • Kathryn Eckstein
  • Bar & Beverage Innovator

Kath started in the cocktail industry when bartending is not something women pursue. She was 18 when she began tending the bar for the extra money and her job usually involved opening beers, serving tequila, and dancing on the bar counter, Coyote Ugly style. “When people would come up to the bar and order, and see that I’m a girl, they would put me aside and then say, ‘I want to order from him,’” Kath shares. “I resented that, but it motivated me to learn more.” She researched, self-studied, and read a lot of books about bartending, “waaaaay before there was Google or YouTube,” she says.

She traveled and worked as a bartender in Guam and went to Japan afterwards, where she fell in love with the world of mixology. “The first time I ever ordered a dry martini in this tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Japan, that’s how I first fell in love with mixology,” Kath says. “The artistry, that was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life, how the bartender made the drink. She challenged herself more and moved on to other opportunities in bartending and ended up in Turkey, where she stayed for four years and actually ended up as the bar manager. “I was the only female bartender. It was a tourist town called Marmaris, and I wanted to bartend but they said you’re a woman, because it’s a man’s world, a Muslim society. So, I really worked my way up, from being a waitress, to washing glasses, to cleaning toilets, to being the bar back,” Kath explains.

Today, she is one of the most experienced women behind the bar and sought after by brands to represent their bars and products during seminars, workshops, and masterclasses. She has done work for Don Papa Rum, Destileria Limtuaco, SelvaRey Rum, and Ventura Spirits to name a few.

“Back then, it was a challenge to be a female face behind the bar,” she shares. “People constantly ask me whether I knew my stuff, but that was the tame part about it. The worse was when men would think I was behind the bar for them to take home!” She was once given a note with a written money offer and a question mark. “It’s so disgusting!” she exclaims. “These days that doesn’t happen anymore, I’m so happy to see women in a safer environment than it once was, it’s no longer a surprise or a novelty,” she adds.

For women aspiring to work as bartenders, she advises them to follow their dreams. “Go for it! If you listen to your peers or your parents who still think of the past stigmas of bartending, then you’ll never have the courage to be behind the bar. We are naturals in the hospitality industry. We have the edge because we are innately nurturers, so we want to take care of our guests. And we are great listeners! Serving cocktails are just the tip of the iceberg, a class act bartender can turn a moment into a memory,” she states.

Signature drinks? When it comes to the classics, I make killer whisky sours, it’s my favorite to make and drink myself.
Favorite drink: I think part of the whole routine after a long night in making all these cocktails, the bartenders and I, we grab a few beers from the fridge and then we drink it on the sidewalk. We sit there all tired, and finally sitting on the curb and drinking a cold beer, there’s nothing like a cold beer. That’s my go-t—beer makes me happy.

Read more about Kathryn Eckstein on this link. 

  • Angelica Castro
  • Bar Team Supervisor, Madison Lounge and Bar, Hilton Manila

Growing up in a family of doctors, bartending was never part of her plan. She was always passionate about culinary and curious about different flavor profiles. She got into the food industry as a food attendant and was introduced to the bartenders tending the bar. “I got close to the bartender I worked with, and he mentored me to become a bartender,” she narrates. “It was quite challenging at first, but it made me more eager to learn.”

“People, especially men, think that bartending is a man’s profession, but today, people are now accepting us in the industry,” she says. “I had an experience with one of our guests before, she ordered a cocktail and thought that I only take orders and serve. When she saw me pouring the bottle to make the drink, her jaw dropped and exclaimed, ‘Seryoso? Ikaw gagawa? Wait, teka videohan kita t’as picture, first-time ko maka-encounter ng babae na bartender!’ (Are you serious? You’ll make the cocktail? Wait, let me take a video and a photo as it’s my first time to see a woman bartender!)

Today, Angelica works at Madison Lounge and Bar, Hilton Manila, where she is now a bar supervisor. She has joined various bartending competitions locally and even represented the country abroad. Some of her accolades are–PH champion for Jose Cuervo Dons of Tequila (2015), 2nd Runner-up Giffard West Cup Philippines (2017), top 10 finalist La Maison Cointreau Manila (2017), finalist in Da Vinci Gourmet Competition (year), Philippine Winner for Brockmans Brocktail Competition (2018) which brought her to the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans. By the end of March, she will be competing as one of the women finalists at the 2019 PH Diageo World Class competition.

Signature drink: Women’s Pride (Tanqueray Gin, Crème de Mure, Agave syrup, Fresh Lemon Juice, 4 Slices of green and red apples, and 2-3 dash Lavander Bitters)
Favorite drink: Margarita, people will always say, “you can never go wrong with classics.”
  • Gladys Gloraine F. Munar
  • Head Bartender/Sevice Leader, Raging Bull Chophouse and Bar, Shangri-La at the Fort

Gladys started her bartending career at TGI Friday’s. “During my initial interview, they told that I lack bartending experience. I answered simply, ‘How can I be a bartender if nobody gives me the chance to be one?’. They hired her instantly. She then moved to Dubai to be part of the opening of Siddharta Lounge by Buddha Bar (Grosvenor House Dubai), where she learned under her mentor, renowned mixologist, Matthias Giroud. “He influenced me a lot on how to be creative on the cocktails I make,” she shares. “He has no boundaries in making a cocktail. He is very passionate about what he does and takes the utmost pride when he creates by the bar. Over the years, he has been a brother, mentor, and family.”

“It has always been a challenge for me as a woman behind the bar. I had several experiences when the guest sarcastically asks if any guy is working aside from me and if I know how to make drinks,” she explains. “I just gave him a sweet smile and said, ‘please have a seat, be my guest and let’s see if I know how to make a drink.’ The moment I hold my tools and pour the ingredients, I can see their judgment already changing,” she adds.

Today, you can find Gladys behind the bar at Shangri-La The Fort’s Raging Bull Chophouse and Bar. If you happen to catch her in action, sit by the bar, order a drink and chat her up, she’s one of the sweetest bartenders there; she’ll crack up a joke or two and make your night worthwhile.

Signature drink: Old Fashioned with a twist
Favorite drink: Gin & Tonic
  • Abigael Quilal-lan
  • Bartender, Proof (former ABV), Makati

Abigael started in ABV bar as a server where she worked together with some of the industries most celebrated bartenders. Influenced by her peers, she attended the masterclass taught by ABV’s former general manager now William Grant & Sons on-trade specialist, Kenneth Bandivas, and from then on, she was hooked. “I got interested with how my kuya’s (her bartender mentors) make incredible cocktails for our guests and how they teach about spirits and cocktails, so, I realized that this industry has a lot more to offer,” Abigael says. She now works the bar at Proof (former ABV) and joins bartending competitions in the country. In 2017, she was one of the four winners of first annual Don Papa Cocktail Competition in the Philippines, and in 2018, she was one of the nine finalists of Glenfiddich’s Most Experimental Bartender in PH.

“Being a bartender is fun, but as a bartender, it is important never to stop learning,” she adds. “You have to keep the fire burning, work hard, read as much as you can, listen to seasoned bartenders, and hone your craft until you reach your potential. Later on, you’ll definitely have a place in our industry.”

Signature drink: Roadless Travelled (made with Don Papa Rum, fresh lime juice, homemade passion fruit syrup, banana liqueur, Brauilo, and chocolate bitters) her winning cocktail at first annual Don Papa Cocktail Competition in the Philippines.
Favorite drink: I love to drink refreshing cocktails like gin basil smash and daiquiri, but sometimes it depends on my mood I can drink spirit-forward cocktails too.
  • Faye Fernando
  • Bartender, Cove Manila, Okada Manila

Faye worked her way from being a cashier in Ace Hardware to a promising bartender in one of the 50 Best Bars in Asia, The Curator. “At first, I was expecting that this job is easy, but as time passed by, it becomes more challenging and thrilling,” she shares. “As a bartender in Curator for four years, I learned and realized that bartending is not just a job. It’s a combination of talent, passion, and skills.”

Faye loves to cook, and she applies this love for flavors in creating craft concoctions. This year marks her 6th year in the industry, and she currently works behind the bar of Cove Manila in Okada and continues to ace various local bartending competitions with her great palate for flavors. Last 2017, she made it to the top four of Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year.

“Bartending is my passion, and I love learning endlessly,” she exclaims. “I admire a lot of bartenders and brand ambassadors, especially Filipino bartenders who are making a name for themselves in the local and global arena.” She never really felt any discrimination as a woman in the industry, “most of my fellow bartenders are very caring and they treat me like I’m their little sister,” she says. “Erase the image of women vs. men. The important thing is you help each other as a team and as a family.”

Signature drink: Tomi Fizz, inspired by her favorite childhood treats Tomi corn chips and street ice scramble. 
Favorite drink: It depends on my mood, if, on the boozy side, I love smoky, bitter, and sweet like Smoky Rusty Nail Or Smoky Boulevardier. For the refreshing side, I love sour with egg or gin and tonic.
  • Audrey Gustilo
  • Bartender, OTO, Poblacion

Audrey is relatively new to the local cocktail scene, but it looks like she’s here to stay for the long haul. She graduated from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde with a double degree in International Hospitality Management. After school, she interned abroad for international hotel chains where her interest in food and beverage department developed. When she got back to Manila, she applied to be a flight attendant, and while waiting for the job to come to fruition, she took up a part-time job at the former Kampai bar in Poblacion. “I saw a glimpse of the young, yet blooming, cocktail industry in Manila and fell in love,” she says.

She recently moved to Oto in Poblacion under the mentorship of renowned mixologist and bar proprietor David Ong. “David serves as an inspiration to me,” she shares. “He’s constantly finding ways to test and better his skills in mixology.”

“Being behind the bar gives me a sense of freedom to express my energy and creativity,” Audrey states. “Bartending provides an outlet for me to get to know myself better, both as a bartender and as a person. I love that it lets me experiment in the science of cocktail making as well as human interaction.” From an outside perspective, she believes that the job can look very intimidating. “Working behind the bar takes a lot of heavy work, but I will vouch that it’s nothing a woman can’t do,” she ends.

Catch her together with seven other women bartenders on March 9, Saturday, 8 pm, at Oto in Poblacion for back to back women bar takeover in celebration for Women’s Month. 

Signature drink: The “Dame Mas Gasolina” 
Favorite drink: A tequila highball with Angostura Bitters and a slice of orange
  • Karina Lugtu
  • Bartender, The Curator, Makati

Karina started in bartending when she joined a flair bartending organization in her former school. And though throwing bottles and shakers is not the same as creating craft cocktails, she was still able to land an internship in The Curator and later on joined the roster of bartenders in this award-winning bar.

“Because my training was flairtending, I’m new to the idea of a cocktail bar,” she shares. “Nakakapressure when I started kasi ‘pag sinabi mong Curator ka nagwowork ang tingin nila magaling ka na, na alam mo na lahat. (I felt pressured when I began at Curator as people think, just because I work here, that instantly it equates to being a good bartender.)

“At Curator, you need to know how to make great tasting cocktails, learn about classic drinks and its history. I am very grateful for the training and knowledge that they shared with us.” She says that they taught her how to deal with people, how to communicate properly, and to be responsible for all the mistakes she makes.”

Her experience in The Curator made her realize that a good bartender need not boast about being good, “because if you’re a good bartender, you’ll help the newcomers, you’ll support them so they can improve.”

Signature drink: Blind accident, Use The Force Frodo, and Teacup Maitai
  • Sharleen A. Guevara
  • Bartender, Manille Beach Bar, Lio, El Nido, Palawan

Sharleen had a degree in Hospitality Management and was not planning to work behind the bar but her husband, bartender Larry Guevarra, was a significant influence on her. “Larry showed me the ropes of tending the bar, and I eventually fell in love with it,” she says.

“When we were just starting our company, Liquid Concepts Philippines, I used to be Larry’s bar back, purchaser, marketing associate, drink stylist, and guinea pig,” Sharleen shares. Her all-in-one designation helped and honed her.

“At first, it was quite challenging for me. I never thought working behind the bar as a woman can attract a lot of attention, if not trouble,” she explains. “When I was working as a bartender in Canada, I’ve been catcalled, whistled at and received some indecent proposals, but I never let it get the best of me. Today, I’m fortunate that I work together with my husband. He is like my bodyguard (and bouncer!) who keeps me safe.”

In 2016, Sharleen and her husband joined the 5th season of the reality TV show, Pilipinas Got Talent and showcased their talent for flair bartending. They didn’t win the reality talent show, but they bagged numerous bookings for seminars and demos.

Sharleen believes that to be able to prosper in this industry; one must have the patience, the determination and the gut for surviving the daily aspects and challenges of tending bar. “You have to maintain your composure and be sharp at all times. Stay hungry and focused. Most importantly, love what you do and do what you love and everything else will follow.”

Signature drink: Palawanama made with SelvaRey white rum, El Hombre Gold, Empire Gin, Manille Liqueur de Calamansi and homemade Palawan honey and camote tops syrup.
Favorite drink: A classic Old Fashioned and Manille Basil Smash
  • Loreen Hernandez
  • Head Bartender, Versus Barcade, BGC

Eight years ago, Loreen used to be a waitress at the wine and tapas bar Rambla in Rockwell where she accidentally discovered her interest in bartending. When the restaurant’s bartender left, she volunteered to be a temporary bartender, and the rest is history. “When one of the owners opened Las Flores in BGC, he hired me to be one of his bartenders,” she shares. Her new job got her the proper training behind the bar. She learned from her peers and undergone mentorship under international bar and beverage consultant Giancarlo Mancino.

Today, you can visit Loreen at the fun arcade bar Versus Barcade and request for her signature cocktails. “A lot of people doubted me,” she states. “First, when I got promoted as the head bartender in Rambla back in 2014. It was a bit awkward to head an all-male bartender team, but all went well eventually.” When she opened Versus Barcade, a few industry peers doubted her because it’s her first time to create a bar from a piece of paper and make it into an operational bar. “It affected my self-esteem, but they were also the reason why I never gave up,” she says.

A lot of bartenders in the local community serves as her inspiration, and she looks up to Aldrin “Poch” Ancheta, bartender at Shangri-La the Fort’s The Back Room, and Lester Ligon, 2018 Diageo World Class PH champion and bartender at Proof (former ABV). “Poch, made me realize that I can do or be what I can never imagine if I push and work beyond my limits. Lester’s win from the 2018 World Class in Berlin, inspires me to work harder and be an instrument in adding the Philippines in the map of bartending.

She continues to join numerous competitions and even bagged 2018 La Maison Cointreau PH Champion title which brought her to La Maison Cointreau Asia finals in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is currently one of the handful of women bartender finalists for 2019 PH Diageo World Class competition.

Catch Loreen on March 9 in Oto, Poblacion, as she works behind the bar together with seven women bartenders for the Women’s Month special.

Signature drink: I have many to mention, but my favorite one is Hadouken. I actually included it in Versus Barcade Cocktail menu.
Favorite drink: Since I have low tolerance in alcohol, Bailey’s is my poison.
  • Louise Lloyd Oliverio
  • Bartender, Shangri-La Fort Manila, Raging bull Chophouse and Bar

Louise used to be a lead vocalist in a band who performs in bars. Their manager, Kuya Dejk, who is a bartender, taught her how to mix drinks which sparked her interest in mixology. She told herself that one day she would create a drink that will represent her.

In Discovery Primea, she started as a server and eventually became a bartender at two of the hotel’s F&B establishments–1824 Whisky and Cigar bar and Edge. Her training and experience in the hotel under the mentorship of their head bartender Lennon Aguilar, led to numerous bartending competitions which eventually landed her a job at Shangri-La Fort Manila, Raging bull Chophouse and Bar.

“Bartending is not just about making great tasting cocktails. It all boils down to hospitality. It will always matter how you communicate with your colleague or guests, how you delight them, how you entertain them,” she shares. “It’s about giving your guests a good experience. This will always make them remember you.”

Signature drink: Tia Blanca
Favorite drink: Negroni and Pina Colada
  • Vanessa Rabadon
  • Head bartender, Nokal, Poblacion

Vanessa was a barista before she started her career as a bartender. “In 2005, I applied as a receptionist in the restaurant Prince of Jaipur. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant for me because they were looking for an Indian looking receptionist and I happened to look, well, Chinese,” she shares jokingly. “I didn’t get the job, but they took me in as a bartender,” she adds.

With little experience working and tinkering with cocktails she was a bit hesitant about the job but being a single parent of three kids, she took it as a challenge and inspired her to work hard. Four years later she became a head bartender at the now-defunct LAX bar in Manila. In 2015, she joined Diageo World Class and ranked top 5 in the final challenge. That same year, she got a job in Luna Bar, Shanghai as a bar manager and she stayed there for two years.

“I had fun working in Shanghai, a lot of foreigners love my signature cocktails, and they would keep coming back to request for more,” she shares. They featured her in a video for the bar, and it played on big screen billboards in Nan Feng Cheng (The Place Mall). “I was there standing and watching the video, and I was like ‘wow, it’s a dream come true.’”

A lot of people in the industry inspires her and one of them is her boss and mentor, mixologist extraordinaire Dr. Lee Watson. “He is the one who thought me how to become a real bartender, “ she says. “I admire how hard he works every day, sometimes he only sleeps for two hours and then goes back and work again.”

For her, a good bartender means that this person knows how to create a drink that would keep people coming back. “He or she knows how to entertain and start a conversation in such a way that they would make them feel at home,” she says. “A good bartender knows how to give unparalleled customer service satisfaction.”

Today she is the head bartender at popular nightlife hangout in Poblacion, Nokal. You’d find her smiling behind the bar, ask her to whip up her signature cocktails.

Catch Vanessa on March 9 in Oto, Poblacion, as she works the bar together with seven women bartenders for the Women’s Month special.

Signature drink: Uptown Girl
Favorite drink: Old Fashioned
  • Kathrin Osmillo
  • Head Bartender, Oto, Poblacion

For Kat, her first love was culinary, but the hot environment in the kitchen was not a good fit for her as there was an incident when she collapsed in the kitchen because of the heat. Her frustration in becoming a chef led her to work with drinks, first as a barista then as a bartender. She’s been in the industry for several years now, and she has worked under the mentorship of DrinkManila’s resident mixologist Icy Mariñas in her former bar Hooch in Salcedo. Today she is under the wing of bar proprietor David Ong.

“Bartending is a male-dominated profession, and I take pride as a woman behind the bar,” she shares. “I like how guests are amazed when they see me behind the bar shaking their cocktail like a dude!” she exclaims. “I never felt discriminated. Instead, I gained respect from my male colleagues which inspires me to work harder and pursue my passion even more.”

She looks up to Diageo World Class Global cocktailian Lauren Mote for inspiration, “she is a successful bartender, mentor, and an educator. She inspires me to push myself towards my goal. I will never forget her saying, ‘I will give away my knowledge freely to those who are hungry for it.’”

“Being a bartender is a tough job, but it is a fun job! I love how you can meet new people every day, and the career brings you new experience and learnings,” she ends.

Signature drink: Thriller (Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, yuzu, homemade ponzu sauce, maple syrup, and egg white)
Favorite drink: Negroni, I like the balance of the sweetness, bitter and spice in the end.
  • Janisa Manalang
  • Bartender, Centerplay, City of Dreams Manila

Janisa started as a waitress in City of Dreams Manila where she got interested in bartending by watching how they work behind the bar. “Mr. R-nel Capistrano, our bar manager, gave his trust and gave me the opportunity to be a bartender,” she shares. “I look up to him. He has a knack for creating signature cocktails that made a big impact on our sales. He continues to train me on how to make various cocktails and the ins and outs of the bar.”

City of Dreams Manila’s CenterPlay has several female bartenders and guests are receptive to them creating drinks behind the bar. “As a woman behind the bar, I feel that I am strong and I can do whatever a man can do,” she shares. “Women are equally skilled and talented as men. Women who are creative, passionate, and willing to learn about mixology, and possess good people skills can have flourishing careers as bartenders,” she adds.

  • Signature drink: Hanging Garden made with Grey Goose Le Citron, Crème de Violet, Blue Curacao, apple juice, 
    lemon juice, passion fruit syrup, and egg white.
    Favorite drink: Any refreshing and easy to drink cocktails, I like our signature cocktail, Passionfruit Mule.
  • April Chavez
  • Bartender, High Street Café Bar, Shangri-La at the Fort

April started as a waitress in banquets; here she developed her interest in bartending while watching her colleagues work the bar. She then trained with basic bartending and was eventually asked to be a bar back for their company service. Her experiences finally landed her a bartending job in Highstreet Café Bar at Shangri-La at the Fort.

In Shangri-La, she works under the mentorship of their head mixologist Ulysse Jouanneaud together with other local seasoned bartenders. For female inspiration, she looks up to her colleague, bartender Gladys Munar. “To be standing next to her gives me so much pride knowing that she has been part of many amazing journeys,” she shares. “Her passion, dedication, willingness to help, and her drive and determination in balancing her career and family life, is just beyond admirable.”

According to her, being a woman behind the bar means you have to be both strong and charming. “We are not spared from carrying heavy cases of beers, soda, etc., and while doing so, we still muster to put on our best smiles for our guests,” she says. “I’ve never felt discriminated as a woman in a male-dominated workplace. We are living in a new world now. Anybody can be good at what they are doing without the fear of discrimination,” she adds.

Signature Drink: Morning Fuel
Favorite drink: Negroni and Old Fashioned
  • Jairra Poltrias
  • Bartender, Edge, Discovery Primea, Makati

Jairra just recently graduated from college, but her exposure when she joined 2017 Whisky Live competition landed her bartending jobs at mobile and pop up bars like DBWY (a bartender pop-up created by seasoned bartenders in the industry), and at Fete under Pylon Trees Hospitality Inc. Today she is currently working as a Bartender at Edge, Discovery Primea.

For her bartending gave her a chance to be her real self. “This profession is all about the never-ending process of learning, mixing drinks and experimenting. But more than the work behind the bar, the most important thing is when you develop a good rapport with your guests,” says Jairra.

She’s relatively new in the game, but she takes inspiration from the successful bartenders in the community like her now mentor Lennon Aguilar, her former teacher Glenn Gabiola, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao, and 2018 Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year Lester Ligon.

“To be a good bartender, one must have the heart for the profession because it will reflect in the work that you do,” she says. “Aside from making drinks behind the bar, the most important thing is the service because at the end of the day we bartenders belong to the hospitality industry, it is our job to satisfy and give our guests an excellent service.”

Signature drink: Pearl of the Orient, Chivas Mi Timbers, Primero, and Ethos
Favorite drink: Daiquiri, tiki cocktails, peated whiskies, and milk tea
  • Melody Joy Lim
  • Bartender, Cigar Bar & Poker Room, Solaire Resort and Casino

Her love for bartending started in college during her internship abroad. “I saw many Filipino bartenders, and I was amazed at how they stand out among the other bartenders,” she exclaims. Inspired, it sparked her to study about drinks and how to become a bartender. She got her first job as a server in a restaurant and was soon transferred to work behind the bar. “After a year and a half, I got an opportunity to work at Solaire, and I’m glad that I made that decision,”

Today she works under the mentorship of expat mixologist Michael O’Shea at Solaire’s new Cigar Bar & Poker Room.

“Being a bartender is not just a job but it’s a lifestyle,” Melody says. “I get to meet new people every day, hear their stories, and make good friends along the way!” For her, a good bartender can be proactive and flexible in all aspects. “One should be an active listener,” she says. “Listen to your guests even when you’re focusing on making their drink.” She also believes that bartenders should always treat his/her colleagues with respect, “because by the end of the day you’ll need each other’s back,” she adds.

“There are a lot of influential bartenders in the industry, but I recently got to meet Regional Ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin SEA Charmaine Thio. She inspired me the most!” According to her, Charmaine started as a clueless bartender eventually becoming a bar manager and now an ambassador for a global brand which gives her the chance to travel and inspire more bartenders along the way.

“As a woman behind the bar, I don’t get discriminated. My colleagues respect me as a woman,” she says. “The only real problem is my height. I’m only 5’3, and there are certain bottles that I cannot reach! I look very helpless sometimes,” she jokes. “But fortunately, my team had a solution; they prepared a mini stool for me by the bar!”

Signature drink: French Deal 
Favorite drink: Amaretto Sour and Whisky Sours
  • Ella Mae Verona
  • Bartender, Mireio, Raffles Makati

Also new to the world of mixology, Ella, started as a server at Long Bar, Raffles in 2017. Working with seasoned bartenders, it influenced her in learning things behind the bar. “Amazed at their craftsmanship, I started asking questions about spirits, classic cocktails, duties of bartenders and other fundamentals of bartending,” she shares. “My manager noticed my curiosity and interest in learning the craft and decided to cross-train me as a bartender.” Today, she works at the bar in Mireio, the rooftop bar of Raffles.

“What I love about being a bartender is meeting a lot of people with different personalities and figuring out how to interact with them appropriately,” Ella shares. “I love how I can personally connect with them by listening to their stories, learning from their experiences, all the while concocting drinks that will satisfy their palate and will suit their mood or personality.“

“I believe that bartending is 70% personality and 30% skills,” she states. “A good drink is what keeps the guests to order more, but a good connection with the guests is what brings them back.”

For her, it is still a challenge to be a woman behind the bar. “There is a constant fear of being harassed and discriminated for being a lady bartender. I have encountered guests who second guess my ability to concoct a drink, and some even request for a male bartender to serve them instead. The real challenge, however, is proving to them that you are up to the task just as much as any male bartender is.”

Signature drink: Craft Gin and Tonic
Favorite drink: Gin and tonic or sour cocktails

In our local drinking scene, you’d find at least one or two women tending the bar or competing in prestigious bartending competitions. We believe that we could use a lot more; hence, we salute these women who are paving the way for others to follow suit.

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