Top barmen recommend bars in their cities: Melbourne, New York and London

Three award-winning bartenders from Melbourne, New York and London recommend haunts in their cities

Some of the best bartenders from around the world are in town this week to shake things up at the inaugural Singapore Cocktail Week.

During the eight-day drinks festival that started yesterday and which runs until Saturday, they will be doing guest bartending stints, leading cocktail enthusiasts on bar tours and mixing up signature drinks at bars across the island.

Three of these award-winning barmen - Nathan Beasley from Melbourne's Black Pearl & Attic, Steve Schneider from Employees Only in New York, and London-based Dean Callan, global brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder scotch - tell SundayLife! where to find the best tipple in their home cities.

melk@sph.com.sg


Lots of camaraderie in Melbourne

Australian bartender Nathan Beasley, 27, of Melbourne's Black Pearl & Attic. He won the title of Australian Bartender Magazine's Bartender Of The Year 2014 and the Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix Australia award in the same year.

What do you like most about the cocktail bar scene in your city and what do you think sets it apart from the rest of the world?

The camaraderie among bartenders in Melbourne is the factor I most appreciate. Being able to get a great drink while being served by someone you know, respect and enjoy the company of is a great experience.

Can you name three cocktail bars in your city that you like and tell us why readers should pay them a visit?

The Everleigh on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, has always been No. 1. The bar interior has a wonderful old feel and it serves the best classic cocktails. It is my kind of escapism. Whatever your taste, be it sweet, sour, bitter or dry, they are experts in resurrecting a drink from the past that will fit the bill or putting their own simple twist on a great drink.

Where: 156/150 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Vic 3065, tel: +61-3-94162229

Open: 5.30pm to 1am daily

Bar Americano in Presgrave Place, off Collins Street, is another favourite. A bar that holds no more than eight people at a time, standing room only, it is tucked away down a lane. Hayden Lambert is a great bartender and the man who makes this place great. It has a great selection of Amaro, which is a great accompaniment to black coffee.

Where: Collins 234 Boutique Place, 20 Presgrave Place, Vic 3000, tel: +61-3-94280055

Open: 5pm to 1am daily

Los Barbudos in Smith Street, Fitzroy, is fantastic. Modelled after the bars of Havana, it is absolutely spot on. The people at Barbudos have done a wonderful job of recreating something authentically Cuban. I would have a Daiquiri here. In my humble opinion, the greatest drink on the planet.

Where: 95 Smith Street, Fitzroy, Vic 3065, tel: +61-3-94160079

Open: 5pm to midnight (Monday to Wednesday), 5pm to 1am (Thursday to Saturday), 3 to 11pm (Sunday)


A bar for everyone in London

Dean Callan, 33, global ambassador for Monkey Shoulder scotch whisky. He is based in London and has bagged several awards, including China's Bartender Of The Year in 2008 and Cosmopolitan Magazine's Bartender Of The Year in 2007. He has worked in famous bars such as Milk and Honey in London and Press Club in Brisbane, Australia.

What do you like most about the cocktail bar scene in your city and what do you think sets it apart from the rest of the world?

What really sets London apart is the fact that there are literally millions of different people in the city. If you have a specific bar in a small town, there may not be enough of a population to fill the bar day in and day out, but London can accommodate pretty much anyone, provided you have a high quality offering. There will always be someone interested in what you are doing.

Can you name three cocktail bars in your city that you like and tell us why readers should pay them a visit?

First, you should visit the Artesian bar in the Langham Hotel. It's an amazing bar with an amazing team. They are actually the best there is right now. I suggest you try the Pina Colada cocktail, the Banana Daiquiri, or both.

Where: Langham Hotel, Portland Place, London W1B 1JA, tel: +44-20-7636-1000

Open: 11 to 2am (Monday to Saturday), 11am to midnight (Sunday)

Next up, I would hit Happiness Forgets in Hoxton Square. For me, this bar is the opposite of top-tier London bars, but there is still a world-class team behind it. The Blackbird cocktail (Monkey Shoulder scotch, Wee Van Rose liqueur, Amontillado Sherry Stir and lemon twist garnish) there is amazing.

Where: Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU, e-mail reservations@ happinessforgets.com

Open: 5 to 11pm daily

The third bar would be Trailer Happiness in Portobello Road. The owners and bar staff are good friends of mine and the atmosphere in West London is something very different to that of central or east London. You can't beat a Mai Tai or Missionary's Downfall cocktail here.

Where: 177 Portobello Road, London W11 2DY, tel: +44-20-7041-9833

Open: 5pm till late daily


Patience and desire to please in New York

Steve Schneider, 31, of Employees Only in New York. He has 13 years of experience in bartending and has been working at the award- winning bar for the past seven years. He was crowned world champion for the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup bartending competition in 2012 and took first place in the Boiron Cocktail Cup in New York in 2012.

What do you like most about the cocktail bar scene in your city and what do you think sets it apart from the rest of the world?

The people and the city itself. Life in New York City is stressful and nothing comes easy; not even crossing the road or buying a newspaper is easy at times.

It's so fast-paced and there are people from different places all living on the same block. Different customs, tastes, but all with the same desire to go out and have fun.

How do you handle this melting pot of people? With patience and a genuine desire to make someone feel good and welcome. Happiness is universal.

Can you name three cocktail bars in your city that you like and tell us why readers should pay them a visit?

Raines Law Room. I take out-of-towners and dates there. It's a beautiful spot with great hospitality and drinks. It looks like you're in someone's apartment and I feel it's got that true New York energy that many bars try to create.

Where: 48 W 17th Street, New York, NY 10011, tel: +1-917-841-8144

Open: 5pm to 2am (Monday to Wednesday), 5pm to 3am (Thursday to Saturday), 7pm to 1am (Sunday)

Attaboy in Eldridge Street. The old Milk and Honey bar space on the Lower East Side is still home to the best cocktails in the city. What I like most about Attaboy is that it doesn't do anything too crazy. No wild homemade ingredients or strange techniques. They put good, fresh ingredients together, stir or shake them and then strain a perfectly executed cocktail. I think that since the size of the space is very small, it helps them handle their crowd and give attention to the drinks without having people wait too long.

Where: 134 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 100002

Open: 6pm to 3.30am daily, does not take reservations

Saxon + Parole restaurant in Bowery is a place I love to go to eat and drink at. The food is great and the burger is my favourite in the city. Its cocktail programme is very good as well.

I discovered these three bars through friends in the industry. I feel that a great bar should not be defined by a specific spirit or drink, but that's just my opinion. Go in and try whatever you want.

Where: 316 Bowery, New York, NY 10012, tel: +1-212-254-0350

Open: 5pm till late at the bar daily