Drinks World recently caught up with Managing Partner and Founder of The Old Man Singapore, Andrew Yap. The Old Man first opened in Hong Kong and has received a lot of praise by the public for its sophistication and uniqueness. With the second venue recently opening in Singapore, we asked Andrew about his role, sustainability and what challenges he faced with opening a new venue.
You’ve recently joined The Old Man in Singapore, what’s your role and what does it entail?
I’ve recently joined The Old Man as Managing Partner and Founder. If I were to phrase my role in one sentence, it would be ‘the provider of happy days for everybody’. I’m dedicated to selling ‘The Old Man’ experience to our guests. Anybody can make a drink but not every bar can sell a good, holistic customer experience.
The Old Man in Hong Kong made The World’s 50 Best Bars last year, is this a goal for the Singapore venue as well?
We don’t harbour such lofty ambitions at this point in time. Being relatively new, our goal is to set the standard for the Singapore bar scene. Right now, we are solely focused on making sure that any of our guests that step through our doors have the best possible ‘The Old Man’ experience.
The challenge is also streamlining the experience of both the Hong Kong and Singapore venues. Keeping true to ‘The Old Man’ philosophy, we want to ensure that every guest walking into both bars feel a certain sense of familiarity. However, this poses certain challenges along the way, as slight changes have to be made to adapt to Singapore culture. For example, the taste buds of our local guests are slightly different.
What’s the venue’s philosophy when creating drinks?
The Old Man is a cocktail concept that’s inspired by the distinguished writer and avid drink lover, Ernest Hemingway. The venue’s philosophy is simple, ‘What would Hemingway drink?’ Being driven by Hemingway’s libations of choice, each classic cocktail exudes a unique Asian touch to keep things vaguely familiar. All our drinks are titled after his classic novels.
The Sun Also Rises (a novel written in 1926) features coconut oil fat-washed applejack, curry leaf infused gin, sweet vermouth, sous vide pandan leaves and kaffir lime. There’s also the Green Hills of Africa and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, just to name a few others.
What’s been a highlight for the venue so far? Have there been any obstacles?
It would definitely have to be the reaction of our guests, the moment they walk through those doors and take in the view of our bar. The element of surprise that the bar wields has always been a major highlight. Along with the cold plate that runs through the entire bar. Everyone is intrigued by it as it keeps your cocktails cold for the duration of the stay.
As for obstacles, we have encountered some spirits and fresh supplies that aren’t always readily available in Singapore. Which is a slight hitch that we’ve been trying to resolve since opening. It’s highly important that we tackle this issue as even the smallest discrepancies will compromise the standard that has been set in The Old Man Hong Kong.
Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment. Has the venue embraced any sustainable practices?
We adopt a strict no straw and no coasters policy. ZERO. In the future, we are looking into eliminating fruit waste and using the enzymes to make our own washing detergents.
What can we expect from The Old Man in the coming months? Guest shifts etc, Singapore Cocktail Week etc?
In the coming months, we don’t foresee ourselves being involved in any guest shifts, instead, we will be focused on delivering the most authentic The Old Man experience to our guests here in Singapore. We are incredibly thankful that the upcoming events in 2019 such as Asia’s 50 Best Bars and Singapore Cocktail Festival means a lot more overseas guests will be coming through our doors and that exposure is an incredible opportunity for us to extend our reach to a more global clientele.