Fresh from a wholesome stint at Native in Singapore, David Yeung – more affectionately known to the industry as Dave Jony – has joined The Bar Awards team as Creative Manager. Co-Founder Tron Young catches up with this long-time supporter of the awards, cocktail enthusiast, and Milo peng aficionado on his career (so far) and his love for the hospitality industry.
“I like to keep my history vague and mysterious,” Dave smirks, as the Solomon Islander, pseudo Singaporean takes a sip of his Milo peng, “Many people have always wondered where I am from but the biggest question is always about my name, Jony.”
So where does the name Dave Jony come from? Does it have to do with Davey Jones? It is one of the more common guesses but no. As for where it comes from, now that you’ve asked, I can’t remember. All I can recall is that it relates to Indiana Jones. A name from another life that has stuck with me through the years.
Where did you start your hospitality career? It was at Azzura Beach Club on Sentosa island around 2010 to 2011. I had just finished National Service and was like, “I guess I better find a job so that I can buy food and pay the rent.”
How was Azzura? Were you a bartender at Azzura? Peaceful. It can be really busy, but the working life was peaceful. The club was on Sentosa, so it felt like I was on holiday even though I was on shift. I started as a server but it seemed like the bartenders got the most and best attention, and they were just so cool. Luckily for me, there was a gap in the bar team and the opportunity was there for me to move.
After Azzura Beach Club, you joined Fine Spirits by La Maison du Whisky, why did you make that move? Azzura was great but I wanted to learn about more spirits and liquors. I was really ready to explore more of that side of the industry. That was when I found LMDW <La Maison du Whisky> and their amazing selection of spirits and liquors! I joined the team there and the rest is, well, history.
You’ve been in the industry for a long time, what is your favourite thing about the hospitality industry? It would definitely be the bonds you form with people. To have regular guests is wonderful, but to have those guests remember you after being away for six years is on another level. When I returned to Singapore from Hong Kong in 2018, I was working with the team at Native. A few of the regulars that I met years ago still remembered me and that is the best feeling in the world. Making a drink that they enjoyed back then and seeing them still enjoying cocktails years later, that feels great!
You’ve worked in and worked with some of the best bars spanning from Southeast Asia to Hong Kong to China, what are some memorable moments in your career? This is a difficult one to answer because there are just so many great people, experiences and memories. From working with really creative people to open opulent hotels to being chaperoned by celebrity chefs into the nitty gritty alleyways of China in search of the best local food, it’s been an amazing journey.
If I really had to choose, I would say working with the team at Employees Only Hong Kong for their first ever New Year’s Eve party in 2017, inspiring the Macau bar community with the JERRY educational platform, and foraging with John the Poacher and the team from Native for some of Hackney’s finest foraged produce.
What do you look forward to the most about being part of The Bar Awards team? Working for an organisation that allows me to celebrate the hard work of my peers around Asia is a major plus for me. I know how tiring it is to always be creative, maintain profitability and stay inspired. I want to remind them that they are doing amazing things and to keep pursuing their passion for bars and hospitality.
I also really like being the “behind the scenes” guy and The Bar Awards is the perfect platform for that. I get to apply my creativity to help promote the hard work and passion of my peers.
Thanks Jony for sharing a little about yourself and a Milo peng with us! But before we let you busy yourself with the upcoming awards in Singapore from September 26 to 29 2019, help us answer some rapid fire questions so everyone can get to know you a little more…
What is your favourite cocktail? Either Leo Chue’s (formerly of 28 Hongkong Street, Singapore) Painkiller or Gerry Olino’s (Foxglove, Hong Kong) Don Pom Swizzle.
What is your favourite drink to have for breakfast? Native’s Chai or Milo peng.
What is your favourite two ingredient cocktail? Jay Khan’s (Coa, Hong Kong) Bellini.
What is your favourite glassware? Ondrej Pospichal’s (ABar, Marriott Maquis Bangkok) range of SignatureCut glassware, especially the 165.
What is your favourite piece of bar equipment? Michael Callahan’s (Barbary Coast) jigger brass knuckles.
What is your favourite beer? These days…Pink Blossoms Singapore’s Milk Stout.
What is your favourite ingredient to mix with? Kombucha.
What is your favourite food? Tayer + Elementary’s Sando in London.
Last but not least, what is your favourite spirit or liquor? The Maison Ferrand range and probably The Lovers Rum.
Dave Jony will also be thebarawards.com’s resident cartoonist of #FunSizeBarToons which will be launched in conjunction with The Bar Awards Singapore 2019 (26 to 29 September). Keep your eye on our website for fun, hilarious #BarToon adventures!
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