Ever wondered how anyone becomes lucky enough to make the bar their office and cocktails a full-time career? Read on. 

 
Suchada “Fahbeer”  Sopajaree, 33, Find The Locker Room


How did you become a bartender?


The movie Cocktail was the biggest inspiration for me, thanks to Tom Cruise. My mom would always lament that I would never find a job because I always woke up late, so this is my proof to her that I could find a job. I got my first job when I was 26, on Koh Lanta, where I had to figure my way around a bar during the busy high-season. I fell in love with the bartending art, the human interaction and satisfaction on the customer’s face after the first sip.


What were the struggles at the beginning?

 
Knowledge was a big problem for me, with customers asking me all sorts of questions. Working as part of a team was also something new.


What are the struggles now?


As head bartender at Find The Locker Room, my struggles now are different. I’ve been torn both ways on many occasions having to say “no” to staff to maintain the standard of the bar, which is very important.


What’s your biggest achievement?


Winning the La Maison Cointreau Thailand 2018. It’s my first-ever win in any competition—I always end up being a finalist but never the winner. 


What tips do you have for anyone wanting to become a bartender?


Patience, humility and listening. Patience because it doesn’t take you days, weeks or months to reach the top, it takes years to hone your skill and then some. Humility because superstars are overrated, true bartenders work to convert frowns to smiles and strangers to friends, not for fame or money. Listening because you never know what you might learn or pick up from a veteran in the industry or even a green horn trying to break boundaries. Bar-backs also take on the most underrated role in the bar—if you can do it right, you will earn the respect of the whole team, but hell is it a tough role. My best memories were peeling coconuts and digging flesh out of pineapples, 40 pieces a day.

 

Find The Locker Room


Arron Apimuk Grendon, 22, Tropic City


How did you become a bartender?


I started off as a trainee in F&B at Trisara hotel in Phuket. One night the guys from 28 Hong Kong Street did a guest shift at our bar and the day after I immediately asked my boss if I could start training as a bartender.


What were the struggles in the beginning?

 
I wouldn’t say that there were struggles but like any other job you have to learn how to be good at what you do. 


What are the struggles now?


The biggest struggle for most bartenders I think would be the long hours and late nights, but in the end it’s part of the job we chose so we kind of have to deal with it.


What’s your biggest achievement?


Winning the Chivas Masters 2018 Global Competition.


What tips do you have for anyone wanting to become a bartender?


Be eager to learn, gain more experience and just be yourself! Rather than trying to follow what the other bartenders are doing, do what you feel is right and have fun with it. Show your love and hospitality to the people around you. And make awesome cocktails!
 
 
Tropic City
 

Saimai Nantarat, 23, ABar Rooftop at Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park


How did you become a bartender?


I started working as service staff at Tenderloins on Sukhumvit Soi 33 when I was 19. A friend of a friend who was bartending came to eat there and thought I was good at my job, so they approached me but I too young to work behind the bar at 19, so I worked as a bar-back. This was at Hyde & Seek Peekaboo at CentralWorld.


What were the struggles at the beginning?

 
Everything was new to me, so I had to learn all about being a bartender, whether it was different types of alcohol, recipes, or how to approach customers.


What are the struggles now?


Improvement. Constant improvement, to make sure that our cocktails fit with the trends, but still have your own signature style.


What’s your biggest achievement?


I was part of the opening team at ABar and ABar Rooftop, and I had the chance to work on all the details from the very beginning—the design, the glassware, and which cocktails to put on the menu. 


What tips do you have for anyone wanting to become a bartender?


Bartenders aren’t always shaking cocktails—there’s so much more to learn on top of that. You have to pay attention to all the details as well as the practical process of it. 
 
 
ABar
 

Qualified Success

 
Where to study and become a knowledgable alcoholic.
 

Drinks Academy


This school from Niks Anuman-Rajadhon (the man behind Teens of Thailand and Asia Today) will groom you on the basics any good bartender needs to know, from knowledge of spirits, liqueurs and bitters to fermentation techniques. B15,000 for a 4-day course.
Asia Today, 35 Soi Maitri Chit, 097-134-4704. www.fb.com/DrinksAcademy


ASEAN Professional Beverage Academy (APBA)


Split into three stages—Bar 101, Bar 102 and Bar 103—this one targets young professionals who want to work in the hospitality industry, as well as the home cocktail-maker who wants to show off pro skills to their friends. B4,500 for the 8-hour Bar 101 course.
APBA Training Center, 809 Pattanakarn Soi 30, 02-136-8500. www.apba.co.th


Wine One


This basic wine course might not turn you into Bangkok’s best sommelier, but you will learn to appreciate wine from the perspective of a pro, as well as how to pair old- and new-world wines with food. B29,000 for four 3-hour sessions. 
Pesca Mar & Terra Bistro, 39 Ekkamai Soi 12, 063-267-7778. www.wineonebangkok.com
 

B.A.D. Awards is BK Magazine's annual guide to all that's good in Bangkok nightlife. Read the full list here or download the PDF version here