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 Eric Liu of Mao Mao Chong.

Describe the drink that you’re making for us today.
It’s our top seller, a shit-hot Whiskey Sour. I make it with bourbon, brown sugar, lemon juice, and a bit of grapefruit to make it more bitter. One of the secrets for this drink is to put the brown sugar into the lemon juice beforehand, and let them combine. That’s an old trick that I learned while making daiquiris with Douglas [Williams] at BBC.

Tell us about your friendship with him, and how that lead to your become the bartender and owner at Mao Mao Chong?
My first job was at Maggie’s, then I went to work at Apothecary for a while, but unfortunately it closed because the rent was too high in that neighborhood. Douglas was a consultant for the owners there, and he also made a lot of drinks with them. When Apothecary closed down Doug opened BBC and hired me. He was a great teacher and taught me to make all kinds of drinks, and even how to make my own ginger beer and how to have my own distillery.

While I was at BBC, [Mao Mao Chong founder] Stephanie Rocard came in to learn some additional bartending techniques before she relocated to Australia and we became really good friends. When she left, she offered to let me take over this bar because she knew that I knew cocktails.

What’s the most challenging drink that you’ve learned to make?
A Sazerac is difficult, because you should use absinthe first and then rye, then combine them harmoniously, and that’s not easy. You have to mix it very carefully. And you need a lot of patience,  because you have to melt sugar cubes into it beforehand.

How do you come up with new drink ideas?
Mostly I research different spices and find ways to use seasonal ingredients. For example, I just ordered a bunch of fresh strawberries to make strawberry Pisco Sours. It’s a really light drink that’s perfect for summertime.

What’s your favorite drink to have at home at the end of a long day?
Nowadays I really enjoy gin, because the flavor is so elegant. There’s lots of great kinds of gin that I enjoy  like Plymouth from England, Josephine from France, and especially Glorious Gin from Breuckelen Distilling in New York. There’s very few bars in Beijing that have Josephine or Glorious Gin, so I like to have them at home and use them at the bar because they’re so special here.

What’s the secret to being a good bartender?
To be a good bartender you must pay a lot of attention, be careful, and notice a lot of details when you are mixing the drinks. You also want to set yourself apart form other bartenders by not copying other guy’s stuff. Try your best to make your own new kinds of drinks, and pay a lot of attention to how you prepare them, so that they’ll be great.   

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: Kyle Mullin

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog