Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Wan Chai lies intimate hideaway Slim’s. Though the interior may be narrow – yes, it’s appropriately named – this Star Street bar boasts quality beers and a cosy space to unwind in. Not to mention, there’s a crowd-pleasing daily happy hour deal (2.30pm-9pm) that sees customers regularly spill out onto the streets to savour a pint of perfectly poured Stella Artois for just $48.
And if that’s not a big enough attraction, the Stellas at Slim’s are no ordinary pints. Each chalice is poured following the world’s (and Slim’s) best-selling Belgian beer’s signature four-step pouring ritual, which is as follows: inspect, where the bartender holds the Stella Artois chalice up to the light to check that it’s pristine; pour, the simple-yet-precise method of filling the glass at a 45-degree angle; skim, slicing away any excess foam with a knife; and present, serving the customer their pint on a coaster with the logo facing forward.
Slim’s resident bartender Rai Anu inspects the Stella Artois chalice as part of the four-step ritual
There’s more, though. Each Stella Artois is expertly poured by Rai Anu, Slim’s resident bartender and a Stella Artois Draught Masters finalist, which is a cook-off-type competition where bartenders are judged on how well they execute the four-step ritual. The campaign started in June with more than 45 bars and restaurants participating and it’s now down to five finalists. Participants have to be ready at any moment since designated ‘mystery shoppers’ are making anonymous visits to sample a pint without warning. That means every customer is a potential mystery shopper and every Hongkonger can expect a quality pour. We sat down with the pint-sized (pun fully intended) bartender about what it means to represent the popular Wan Chai bar and be the only female finalist in the Hong Kong competition.
What do you love about bartending at Slim’s?
I came to Slim's in 2011, and since I’m still here after all these years, it means I really love it here. The best thing is that everyone at Slim’s enjoys their work. That and being able to interact with people from all over the world. We have a lot of French people coming in. It’s really great. The people are happy coming here and sharing their lives. Sure, sometimes they come in and share their work stresses, but it's like a family here.
How did you come to participate in the Stella Artois Draught masters competition?
At Slim’s we've actually competed in the Draught Masters every year before when it’s just a regular competition. But this is the first time they’ve changed it into a campaign involving mystery shoppers. Last year, we managed to place first and second runner-up. We're just happy and lucky to get another chance to take part again this year.
You're the only female finalist in Hong Kong. What does that mean to you?
At first, I do feel a little nervous because when I look around, it's only me. At the same time, being the only lady does make me feel proud, to know that I'm different. It lets me think to myself: "Oh, I can do this. I can go further." I didn't have much confidence before but making it to the final has really improved my confidence.
Every bartender is unique. What's the key for you?
For me, it's about being dedicated to the art. If you don't take it seriously and miss a step, the Stella Artois is going to taste different. Every step has its own importance so you have to be very careful.
Why is it important to pour a quality glass?
The history [of Stella] goes back to 1366, so we want to ensure every glass has the same taste as before and that it tastes exactly how the brewers made it. We want the customers to really taste the freshness. That's why it's important to follow all the steps, or else it creates a different taste.
Enjoy a pint of Stella Artois with Slim’s beef burger for $148 (available all-day)
What’s a great dish from Slim’s menu to be paired with a pint of Stella?
We think burgers and beer go very well together. Our burgers use Australian beef patties, so they're juicy and tender. Stella is such a refreshing beer and it's really easy to drink. It can cleanse the palate of any oil or saltiness. Even for me, I don't really drink other beers because I think they're really bitter, but with Stella, it’s just right.
What would it mean to win?
If I win this, it means we are good and that we're making the customers happy. Personally, it will be a big achievement but we'll always try to serve the same level of quality, regardless.