What makes 28 Hongkong Street one of the best bars in Asia?
Charmaine: We take care of people. I think that's fundamentally what people look for when they go to a bar. I'm not saying other bars don't do that – but we did get lucky by entering the scene early so a lot of people do come by 28 and that's how we've managed to maintain our standing in Asia.
Lukas: There are some days when the bar is filled with regular guests and we can tell that they’re coming home, which I think is fantastic. That's what you want to achieve with a bar. You don’t have to portray a certain image, you can be who you are.
Get to know Charmaine and Lukas...
Co-bar captains at 28 Hongkong Street. Charmaine (27) has been bartending for four years, Lukas (32) has been bartending for nine years.
How did you get into bartending?
Charmaine: It was an accident for me. I used to just drink a lot and after graduating, I was looking for a job in journalism but couldn't find one. I got sick and tired of sitting around at home and my mum was sick and tired of my face so I decided to do something. I was friends with the people who worked at the bar and I asked them if they needed an extra pair of hands. After about six months, I decided to make my part-time gig my real job.
Lukas: I accidentally fell into bartending too. I worked at my friend's Irish bar and after that I joined a cocktail bar in Slovakia. I moved to Singapore because the weather is better and I heard a lot about Singapore's growing cocktail scene so I wanted to check it out. I came here for a vacation and ended up staying.
What's your bartending philosophy?
Lukas: Guests should leave bar happier.
Charmaine: Hospitality. Humility. Hard work. Hydration. Health.
Do you have a secret ingredient?
Lukas: That's a secret so I can't share that with you.
Charmaine: Now I can't say that anymore. But I try to sneak a bit of Fernet-Branca into everything.
What's your favourite drink at 28?
Charmaine: The Atliens ($23). It’s super refreshing – fresh watermelon juice and mint, salt, absinth and genever, a juniper-flavoured liquor that's the granddaddy of gin. It's a spirit that not many people are familiar with so it's a good introduction to it.
Lukas: Czech the Method ($23). It's very nicely balanced with two types of Irish whiskey and some cold brew.
Aside from your own, what's your favourite bar in Singapore?
Lukas: It has to be Skinny's. You can grab a beer, meet a lot of friends, listen to jokes and there's great music. It's where I go to hang out after work.
Charmaine: I love the team at Manhattan. The hospitality is always amazing. And who doesn't like a boozy brunch right?