Shake It Up profiles the eight Beijing mixologists that are up for the title of Beijing's Best Bartender in the Beijinger's 2015 Reader Bar and Club Awards (vote here through May 17). Today we talk with Warren Pang, owner and bartender of Janes and Hooch.

What was the first cocktail you ever drank, and what did you like about it right away?
Jim Beam and Coke. It was cheap, drinkable and got the job done.

Why did you want to become a bartender?
It wasn't planned. I was initially into events and marketing, but became involved in an F&B project at The Opposite House, and slowly became involved in the bars. It pivoted from there.

What does a bartender at a cocktail bar need to do to be good?
You need to be a charismatic, sassy, people oriented, charming multitasker with a strong understanding of service. Drinks and technique is secondary.

What's your best-selling drink?
South East Side. It has kaffir lime infused Plantation 3 Stars rum, cardamom, and pressed lime.

How has cocktail culture changed in recent years?
The past five years have been all about vintage cocktails and celebrity bartenders. Molecular mixology lasted a quick second too. Now I see – and hope – that bars are steering towards interesting pours from smaller boutique distilleries, from places like Brooklyn for bourbon and Tasmania for gin. More importantly, the focus is back to the guest experience and not on the bartenders.  

How do you come up with new drinks?
You need to understand the base spirit, then look at what's available for modifiers such as Amaros, seasonal fruits or spices. Then, there’s a lot of trial and error with the team. Before you start sell it you should let frequent alcoholic friends try it out and review it, then refine it accordingly.

What sets you apart from other bartenders around town?
Actually giving a sh*t about how my customers’ day went.

Want another round? Follow the Shake It Up series here ... and don't forget to honor your favorite Beijing watering hole before May 17 here.

Photo: Ken

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog