What is your definition of Mixologist?
To me, a mixologist is a creator of alcoholic drinks and cocktails to satisfy customers and make the customer feel the character and style inside a drink. For example, you will realize that I made the drink if you taste my creations. Mixologist understands the nature and characteristics of each ingredient in the drink, combining them harmoniously and scientifically to create a drink that please customers’ taste
How did you become a Mixologist?
I started my career as a waiter in a small pub in Hanoi. At the same time, I found my passion is to be a bartender. It influenced me to self-learn from watching other bartenders making cocktails everyday at work and reading books at home. After a period of time, I was offered a bartender position at the same bar (Le Pub) and my endeavor started since.
What are the 3 key ingredients to make a good cocktail according to you?
Each ingredient plays their own role in a cocktail, but to make a cocktail I think the 3 indispensable ingredients are spirit, liquor and some fruit syrup. However, if you want to have a good cocktail, you must have a delicate taste for the combination of all ingredients.
Cocktail has to gain visibility against beer and other popular alcohol. How do you attract new consumers with this unusual drink in Vietnam?
My cocktails come from the simplest things around us. My inspiration are from Vietnamese food, Vietnamese spices and my stories that attract customers’ curiosity and interests.
Could you describe the consumer profile of Vietnamese cocktail drinker?
Normally Vietnamese people prefer alcohol drinks with fruit which has sweet and sour taste, a small group likes bitterness. Girls pay attention on the drink’s look and colour, meanwhile guys like cocktails with high alcohol content but still smooth.
What is YOUR most famous cocktail?
Phở is my favourite cocktails and it’s also my most well-known creation. I won the Diageo World Class Vietnam 2012 and took part in the World Finals in Brazil in the same year with this cocktail. “ Phở” cocktail was inspired by the Vietnam national dish, Phở.
What is your favorite ingredient and why?
I am really interested in Vietnamese ingredients such as cinnamon, star anise, black cardamom, pepper… These ingredients give my drinks the Vietnamese aftertaste.
If you were a cocktail, which one would it be?
Negroni, made of gin. Gin is a spirit bringing you various aftertastes and surprises you with its bittersweet taste, same as my personality, gentle and profound. Possibly not everyone is going to like Negroni after the first sip, but once you get used to its flavor, you will find it hard to find another drink as sophisticated as Negroni.
What is your motto at work?
I have passion for perfection and love to bring joy to others
Which advice would you give to a young Mixologist?
Be patient and believe in what you love, and always be yourself. Create your own style, don’t be someone else’s copy.
Are Social Networks (Facebook, Instagram, Zalo, Twitter) important in your work? What kind of content do you post there?
Social networks, for me or other bartenders, are very important. It is the best way to advertise our drinks to a lot of customers. I usually post photos of new cocktails, cocktail contests, or bartending tutorial videos.
Do you have a favourite barman/mixologist, someone who inspires you?
I have admired Mr Hidetsugu Ueno, He is a legendary Japanese Mixologist and also very famous bar owner. His drink, his style, and his bar project always very unique. You can his own velues in each products
What are your next projects?
I am planning to expand my “Nê” bar to a bar chain which is very successful in Vietnam now. I would also like to bring the Press club, which I am managing, to a new level.
Interviewed by Damien Bazin, Sopexa Vietnam