WHO’S HE? Arijit Bose, 34, Bacardi brand ambassador. No, he doesn’t just drink for a living. The former head bartender at 28 Hongkong Street (it leapt from 10th to seventh place in the ‘World’s 50 Best Bars’ rankings in the 16 months he was behind the stick at the speakeasy) also educates the public and industry folk — everyone from bartenders to owners — on anything and everything about Bacardi. Despite having 15 years of experience, the Delhi-born barman, who’s among the top 10 bartenders in Singapore, still prefers being called a bartender rather than a mixologist. “It sounds tougher, right? (Laughs) That said, I may say that I hate being called a mixologist, but when I have to send my invoice, it’s gonna say ‘mixologist’ ’cos you get paid more,” quips the self-professed bar nomad who sold his home in Delhi to come to Singapore four years ago and now spends most of his time travelling in the name of work.
1. To avoid getting drunk, keep on drinking.
“You have to build your capacity over time. It’s like gymming - your body slowly will get used to it. The body takes 45 minutes to process one pint of alcohol or a glass of champagne. So [a good gauge] is to have one-and-a-half-to two drinks per hour. With shots, it only takes three quick shots [to knock you] out. The most important thing is knowing your capacity and staying within that limit.”
2. Know your poison.
“For me, vodka gets me high super fast, so I avoid it. And I figured out that I’m cool with whiskey and rum. Something like a Martini [dry] and tonic is designed so you don’t get high super fast ’cos there are a lot of liquids and that helps reduce the absorption of alcohol in your bloodstream. Having said that, my go-to drink after work is a beer and a shot. It’s one of the most comfortable things to have.”
3. To get free shots, never ask for them.
“The secret to getting free shots is not to want them. The key is to be genuinely nice to people, including the bartender. If the bartender has seen you at the bar a few times and you all can click and have a conversation together, he’ll give you a free shot. It’s not about gratifying anyone. But it’s because, as a bartender, I’m genuinely happy that you’re at the bar and I want you to have a great time. In Singapore, I’ve met a lot of people like that. In India, I don’t. There are so many super friendly people here. [The bar industry] is a very interesting space where it’s not about winning the world - it’s about improving someone’s day before they go home.”
4. Hangover prevention is better than cure.
“Keep yourself hydrated. After every drink, have a small bottle of water. Take a Berocca [vitamin C] tablet and have some coconut water before you go out drinking; and have another tablet and a glass of regular water when you wake up the next morning.”
5. Your last drink is crucial.
“It should be something that hydrates you and is nice and light, anything with soda that you can sip slowly.”
6. If all else fails, master the Irish goodbye.
“When you know you’re drunk or getting there, leave unannounced and just disappear and go home.”