Conversations

Lessons From Curator, The Best Bar in the Philippines

July 4, 2018

A few months after their win at the prestigious Asia’s 50 Best Bars, we caught up with Jericson Co from The Curator to ask him about crafting cocktails, making a killer bar playlist, and the ultimate hangover remedy.

What makes an ‘Asia’s Best Bar’?

You’ll have to ask the Manhattan guys! But seriously, it’s just excellent, consistent, memorable hospitality. Whatever that encompasses and whatever form that takes to be the most accurate to the zeitgeist will be what wins.

What other trends in the Asian cocktail scene do you think are important to look at, and can influence the cocktail culture globally?

Hospitality and delicious aren’t trends per se and those exist in myriad forms in Asia. What I do love seeing though is that sustainability and maximizing resources relative to the well being of our planet is starting to take shape. I hope that becomes norm very soon.

How personal is your bar’s process when it comes to creating a cocktail? Do ingredients or ideas come first?

It really depends on the mood and where you find the fun and delicious at its perfect balance. Sometimes a spirit will just speak to us, other times a mood or a feeling will just be perfect to translate to a drink. We’ve done a drink before that was formulated from literally watching the dancing Pen Pineapple Apple Pen guy and we were drinking scotch and eating a black sesame mochi while watching it. Hospitality for us translates to making the experience fun for the guest. Having some touch points where things are more jovial are also great conversation starters. We call that drink Sesame Mucho after the Consuelo Velazquez karaoke classic and if we could say so… it’s an amazing drink.

What cocktail on your menu now kind of embodies the spirit of The Curator?

I would prefer to say that our service embodies the spirit of The Curator. The idea was to always present what is best about the cocktail world, whether it be spirit, technique, bartender, a specific drink, et cetera, to our local clientele similar to how an art curator would help pick pieces to display in their studio. In that sense, our service and how we help translate what is awesome about cocktails to our local market would be what we try to embody every day.

What do you think winning a spot in asia’s 50 best bars means for the cocktail scene in your country?

Please come to the Philippines! It’s an awesome country that people should come more often to. There are plenty more similar to us and the bartenders and service industry here are warm and fun loving. We hope it puts a spotlight in the country in a nicer way; every little bit helps!

What’s more important: experience, atmosphere, service, or great drinks?

I would say the overall experience is a function of those three levers: Atmosphere, Service, and Product Quality. For us we’ve leaned very hard towards the service aspect and that’s just been the strategy that we chose and have followed through. The drinks and atmosphere we’ve brought up to a level that’s also as excellent as we can but if pressed we’ll pick Service first.

Is there a cocktail, classic or modern, that you wish you had invented?

All those classics and the bartenders tied to them are perfect for the moments that they were invented. I wouldn’t dare. It’s actually kind of fun trying to keep pushing forward knowing that we’re standing on the shoulders of giants.

People always spill their secrets to the bartender. What’s the most outrageous story you’ve heard?

We wouldn’t be good bartenders if we told some of those secrets now, would we?

First alcoholic experience?

At the behest of our parents we will not disclose that. Love you, Dad!

Give us your best hangover remedy.

Prepare before going to bed. An isotonic drink and a big glass of water. Perhaps a hot meal even; and then Milk Thistle and B12 the morning after. Otherwise, really just ride with it until you realize that overindulgence will have consequences.

What are the top five songs on your bar’s playlist?

Livin’ on a Prayer, Gimme Shelter, Under Pressure, Ants Marching and Ziggy Stardust.
It’ll change on whoever is at our bar station, but we will always have these songs at the ready.

What’s the most complicated cocktail order you’ve made yet?

There was one time that someone asked us to make what we imagined Butterbeer from Hogsmeade pub in the Harry Potter world would be. That one was tricky because were literally going on pure fiction. A fictional drink interpreted from text by a bartender for a guest that had their own interpretation of a fictional drink off the text. There was literally no empirical basis for the drink on which we can anchor. It turned out great though! We get lucky every once in a while.

Is there a drink you wouldn’t be caught making?

I don’t think we have one at this point.

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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