A seasoned veteran of the bar industry with more than 20 years in hospitality across Asia, Andrew Yap is the Head Bartender and Managing Partner of The Old Man Singapore. Fresh from their debut in the World’s 50 Best Bars list and his personal victory as “Hospitality Ambassador of the Year” at The Bar Awards Singapore 2019, he shares his thoughts on being a bar owner, his leadership style, and interesting new bars to keep an eye out for around Asia.
You have a rich experience in the Food and Beverage industry. Tell us about your early beginnings.
Before joining the F&B industry, I’ve had a handful of jobs ranging from security guard to dispatch rider and construction to dishwasher, before I was being offered a job at Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to further my hospitality career in Singapore with The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Furama City Centre, and Orchard Hotel.
In 2007, I moved to Hong Kong to work at Stone Steak House before venturing into the cocktail scene where I spearheaded the opening of the now-renowned speakeasy bar, Stockton. After relocating back to Singapore in 2015, I joined Neon Pigeon for a few years before teaming up with Agung, Roman, and James in bringing The Old Man to Singapore. The rest, as they say, is history.
What was the most challenging thing about opening The Old Man here?
Acquiring fresh supplies of ingredients and spirits was a challenge as some of them are not readily available in Singapore, and we certainly do not want to compromise on the quality of our drinks. Hiring skilled and reliable manpower was also a concern as it is important to build a team that is able to elevate the guests’ experience aside from just serving cocktails.
How did the attention from The Old Man HK’s win at Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 affect business?
It’s helped The Old Man Singapore to garner more attention, for sure. People are thrilled that they are able to experience the No. 1 bar in Asia here in Singapore and be able to taste our signature cocktails without having to travel to Hong Kong.
What can we expect from the next menu?
For our next menu, we are focusing and featuring more on the team’s capabilities of adapting science and culinary skills into our drinks, and not forgetting our tribute to Papa Hemingway.
The Old Man is very technology-driven, isn’t it?
Technology is a part of The Old Man’s identity. Each of our cocktails are made to enhance classic recipes and we do so through the use of tools such as a centrifuge or rotary evaporator to tease out the best possible flavours. Without a doubt, there will definitely be more of such experimenting taking place at The Old Man.
What do you like most about being a bar owner and managing a bar business?
As a bar owner, I find great joy in having the freedom and space to create new cocktails. As someone who has a strong passion for hospitality, the bar feels like my second home. I am surrounded by a tight-knit community from the industry and get to meet people from all walks of life.
What are the superpowers of your team?
Their ability to hold genuine conversations with guests, and make them feel at ease at The Old Man. They are also often spot-on with their cocktail recommendations to guests who come through our space for the first time.
How would you describe your own leadership style?
I make it a point to not micromanage my team as I trust the people I work with. I believe in giving them enough space to let their creativity flourish as this will support their growth as individuals.
Can you name-drop some exciting new bars to look out for around Asia?
Barbary Coast (Singapore), No Sleep Club (Singapore), Alonetogether (Bangkok), Pantja (Jakarta), and Port Autonomy (Yangon).
It’s a bit of a random question, but your top three local dishes are?
Good ol’ kampong chicken rice, nasi padang, and chicken briyani.
Catch up with Andrew Yap at The Old Man Singapore, 55 Keong Saik Rd, #01-04, Singapore 089158, p. +65 6909 5505. Open Mon-Sat 5pm – 12am.
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