11 Questions With Bartenders Angel Ng And Amanda Wan
It wasn't without trepidation when we asked Angel Ng and Amanda Wan if they minded being co-stars in a shared interview. To our relief, both rockstars of the bartending scene were perfectly comfortable sharing the spotlight.
"Never underestimate a community of like-minded, driven individuals working together to lift each other up," said Wan sagely. Whether in Malaysia or abroad, the bar and nightlife industry is more close-knit than most. I guess you could say that blood may be thicker than water, but cocktail syrup is thicker than blood.
Together, Ng and Wan's accolades and achievements are innumerable. Separately, they go something like this:
- The Bar Awards—Best Hospitality Team (2018)
- Time Out KL Awards—Best New Opening (2017)
- La Maison Cointreau Malaysia—Champion (2017 and 2014)
- The Bar Awards KL—The Ada Coleman Award Winner (2017)
- Gin Jubilee Malaysia—Champion (2016)
- The Sherry Apprentice—Champion (2015)
- Mount Gay Cocktail Stories Competition—Champion (2014)
- Kotex She Can Awards—100 Inspiring Malaysian Women (2020)
- Bacardi Legacy Bartending Competition—Top 3 in Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan (2016 & 2017)
- The Bar Awards Hong Kong—The Ada Coleman Award Nominee (2016)
- The Peter F. Heering Sling Award Global Finals—Finalist (2015)
- Drinks World Asia Top 25 Bartenders in Hong Kong (2014 & 2015)
- Caffe Vergnano Best Barista Global Competition—Finalist (2013)
- DIAGEO World Class Global Bartending Competition—Finalist (2010)
- DIAGEO World Class Bartending Competition—Malaysian Champion (2010)
1/11 The first cocktail that really made me rethink alcoholic concoctions is _____.
Amanda Wan: The Margarita. The first bar I had the privilege to work at was 7atenine (now known as Tujo), which had a classic Margarita on the menu, as well as a dozen other fresh fruit variations. The Margarita is a simple study of balancing sweetness and acidity, temperature and dilution. I love it when one drink can take on many forms!
Angel Ng: The Daiquiri. It's so simple yet so easy to get unbalanced. This drink makes me truly think about the components of an impressive beverage.
2/11 Prior to getting into the industry, I didn’t know that _____.
Angel Ng: There was the possibility of getting exhausted from something you enjoy.
Amanda Wan: You could choose not to drink! A mature bartender will make you feel good about your choice of drink (alcohol or otherwise) because at the end of the day, everyone comes to the bar to have a good time regardless of their state of sobriety in front of and behind the bar.
3/11 Important mentor(s) in my journey include _____.
Amanda Wan: My first and late mentor, Frankie Anthony. He was the one who took me under his wing when I was the least promising and showed me how to approach bartending methodically and creatively at the same time.
Angel Ng: Joshua Ivanovic for his passion and humility, Matthieu Lartigue for his perseverance in mentoring, and CK Kho who inspires me with his never-ending search for progression. I would also like to pay tribute to my own anxiousness of being left behind, which spurred my rather unhealthy drive for obtaining achievements.
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4/11 _____ is overrated.
Amanda Wan: Hardcore partying, gender discrimination, and Fernet (sorry!)
Angel Ng: I can't think of anything, because who are we to judge when it comes to preference and what works?
5/11 _____ is under-appreciated.
Angel Ng: Sipping tequila.
Amanda Wan: Kindness.
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6/11 Another industry or profession where I might have excelled is _____.
Amanda Wan: Food taster! No seriously, where do I sign up to get paid to eat and rave about food? Either that or an excellent voice-over actress.
Angel Ng: Professional Big Two Player.
7/11 My favourite supper to get after a long shift is _____.
Angel Ng: Dim sum, lok lok, bak chor mee or Family Mart’s Oden.
Amanda Wan: I’m Malaysian, You can’t possibly make me choose! I’ll eat everything on offer at Jalan Alor from end to end.
8/11 You will never catch me ordering _____ at a bar.
Amanda Wan: Carlsberg, because my dad used to work for Guinness and I’ve been conditioned (by my mother!) not to drink from the competition. She would remind me any time we drove past billboard advertisements. But if someone else orders for me, I don’t mind. Haha!
Angel Ng: Bottled water as all bars should serve complimentary water. Stay hydrated and stay safe.
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9/11 A bar that has swept me off my feet is _____.
Angel Ng: Any bar where travelling musicians can perform during open mic and where you can grab a stranger to dance the night away.
Amanda Wan: The Connaught, led by the venerable Ago Perrone and his flawless team of professionals.
10/11 A bar I aspire to visit when travel is allowed again is _____.
Amanda Wan: Double Chicken Please in NYC. The long-awaited bar was opened by the award-winning duo Faye Chen and Gn Chan.
Angel Ng: A family-run beach bar in any of the Pacific Islands.
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11/11 A customer experience I’ll never forget was when _____.
Amanda Wan: When I came back to Malaysia for a long overdue homecoming guest bartending shift at Tujo, I hoped that at least a few people would turn up. The entire venue ended up being packed with friends I hadn't seen in years! I remember feeling so, so moved by the love and support. It was one of my best nights behind the bar, ever.
Angel Ng: When a guest suddenly broke down crying on her second drink. After listening to her story, I brought her out dancing after my shift ended and made sure she got back to her hotel safely. There's no doubt that she will never remember that night, but she had fun and so did I. Those few hours distracted her from her troubles, which is good enough for me.