戴著帽子、手臂露出大片刺青（右手有個“哥”、左手有個“弟”），出生於夏威夷，卻是瑞典、菲律賓及愛爾蘭混血的 Michael D. Callahan（Facebook ），身上披覆著滿滿的文化能量，他是目前東南亞最具影響力的調酒師，在新加坡開設的兩間酒吧：聞名全世界的 28 HK Street 以及 Employees Only 都是酒吧評選比賽的常勝軍，其中 28 HK Street 更曾被評選為亞洲第一。
笑起來還帶著男孩般的爽朗跟天真，Michael Callahan 卻不折不扣是影響了新加坡調酒世界的幾色，他從2011年開始就在亞洲發展調酒事業，並引進及培訓調酒人才、在產業內擔任顧問角色，在幾年間帶起新加坡的調酒氛圍，並將影響力擴散至亞洲其他地區。作為一個夏威夷長大的調酒師，他也一直推動著「酒吧體驗」，他認為，客人在乎的是去酒吧的體驗，但現在很多調酒師在乎的是這杯調酒好不好喝，這杯調酒好不好看，卻忘記最重要的事情永遠都是以服務顧客為優先。
這次透過「台灣國際調酒師週｜Bartender’s Week Taiwan」，Michael 來到KOR Taipei擔任講師，我們也把握機會跟他聊聊：
2.您目前參與的兩間位於新加坡的酒吧 Employees Only 以及 28 HK Street 都是酒吧評選比賽中的常勝軍，您認為一間有價值的酒吧需要具備什麼元素？
Wearing a beret hat, a button up shirt, and with distinct Asian tattoos on both his arms, Michael D. Callahan stands behind the bar at KOR Taipei teaching a mixology class named ‘Hospitality’ to curious students. Little did they know that they were in fact being taught by the most influential bartender in Southeast Asia. His bars in Singapore: the world-renowned 28 HK Street and Employees Only, are consistently named amongst the best bars in Asia, with 28 HK Street being selected as the No.1 Asian bar by ‘Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2016’.
Michael has made an enormous impact for Singapore’s bar industry. Since 2011, he has not only developed his bartending business in Singapore, but has also trained and introduced new talent to the bartending scene. As a result, the cocktail scene in Singapore has been built up over a short period of time, and now Michael has begun spreading his influence to Asian countries.
Michael is also an evangelist of the “bar experience," which centres around the belief that guests care about the experience and that the priority is always to serve the customer. This is in sharp contrast to the trend for bartenders to fixate primarily on the taste, flavour and appearance of cocktails.
Michael came to KOR Taipei during the “Bartender’s Week Taiwan", and we would never have missed this chance to talk to him:
1.You were born in Hawaii, then moved to New York, then to San Francisco and now run your own business in Singapore. Can you share your story of coming to Asia to challenge yourself?
7 years ago all my western friends thought I was crazy to leave one of the hottest scenes in the cocktail world to go where “they only want towers of Tiger Beer, and bottle service at the tables”. Thankfully we saw a greater opportunity. Barriers of entry such as supply constraints, labor costs and an almost non-existent cocktail scene in the region, turned away most western professionals from the Asian Market.
The few competitors existing at the time left the populace with substantial disposable income and a desire to have the same quality of cocktails they enjoyed abroad. If we were able to overcome those barriers we saw the vast potential the market had for a craft cocktail scene, a powder keg of exciting programs waiting to explode. It was not easy by any means but with great partners, loyal staff, amazing guests and many 80 hr work weeks we helped to establish the fastest growing scene on the planet. Now third only behind NYC and London.
2.Employees Only and 28 HK Street are both winners of many bar competitions. What do you think are the most important elements that make a great bar?
Hospitality will always be king. It takes many components working in tandem to ensure that a guest leaves your venue happier than when they arrived. Each experience must be approached slightly different and the staff of your venue must have the ability, the training, and the freedom to adjust various components of the guest experience on a moment’s notice. From the volume or tempo of the music, to the lighting in the room and even comping a drink. By ensuring the room is always full of happy patrons the bar will get the recognition it deserves.
3.Please, can you explain why you chose “hospitality” as your main class topic? What are the differences between hospitality in a small bar versus in a large bar?
There is no difference in hospitality between any sized venue. Large or small venues are both destinations for a guest to enjoy themselves. The level of interaction may be impacted by the size of the crowd but the experience should be the same; The guest should always leave feeling that they are happier having come to the venue then if they had not.
4.What do you think of the bar culture in Singapore and Taipei?
The bar culture all over Asia is explosive. For many years the region was not given the respect that it deserves. Now with dedicated bartenders and bar owners working hard on social media and visiting great bars all over the world, people are finally starting to take notice of the talented programs scattered throughout Asia. With this attention comes greatly needed access to better equipment, better spirits, more educated drinkers and more willing investors.
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