Kiki Moka

AF­TER DIN­NER NIGHT LIFE

Exquisite Taste - - Con­tents - – By Steven Jauw Waludin

We wind down after hours talk­ing to mixol­o­gists Kiki Moka, Charles Richard and Ayip Dzuhri about bar­tend­ing and their bars.

If one is look­ing for Kiki Moka, one of the top bar­tenders in In­done­sia, Loewy is prob­a­bly as good a bet as any to catch the af­fa­ble mixol­o­gist. The head bar­tender of The Union Group has his work cut-out, train­ing bud­ding pro­tégées and dream­ing up of new cock­tails for his loyal cus­tomers. Loewy is one of The Union Group's flag­ship es­tab­lish­ments, a cosy bar and restau­rant in­spired by the laid­back Parisian bistros pop­u­lar in New York City. The im­mac­u­late vin­tage feel of Loewy is rem­i­nis­cent of the bustling 1940s, with whim­si­cal con­tem­po­rary touches that fre­quenters to the es­tab­lish­ment will ap­pre­ci­ate.

The high­light of Loewy is its hand­some full-length bar which runs along one side of the venue. Cus­tomers are en­cour­aged to pull up a bar stool, ad­mire Loewy's im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of rare spir­its nestling in the cav­ernous racks and en­gage in ca­sual small talk with the knowl­edge­able bar­tenders (or Kiki Moka him­self if one is lucky enough).

Amidst the mixol­o­gist mae­stro's busy sched­ule, Kiki Moka man­aged to carve out some time to catch up with Ex­quis­ite Taste for a short bar talk.

: How long have you been at The Union Group? How did you end up here?

Kiki: I've been at The Union Group be­fore it was called that, for 16 years. I was work­ing at a café when I met up with a friend in a newly opened bar and a friendly bar-side chat with the op­er­a­tional man­ager turned into a blind wine test­ing (which I passed with fly­ing colours). As it turned out, they needed a bar­tender and I had im­pressed him suf­fi­ciently that I was of­fered a job. I have fol­lowed The Union Group since then and never turned back, I like how friendly and fa­mil­ial ev­ery­one is in the com­pany.

: Why did you be­come a bar­tender? Was it al­ways your pas­sion?

K: It's not an easy choice, that's for cer­tain. Es­pe­cially in a con­ser­va­tive coun­try like In­done­sia, work­ing in a bar is still con­sid­ered a taboo for some fam­i­lies.

Be­fore I was a bar­tender, I used to be a mu­si­cian; how­ever it is in bar­tend­ing that I found my true pas­sion. The things I love about bar­tend­ing is creat­ing a new cock­tail in­spired by lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and cui­sine and see­ing the de­lighted re­ac­tions of the guests. The sat­is­fac­tion of the guests makes all the hard work worth it.

: What's your phi­los­o­phy as a bar­tender? K: I be­lieve that be­ing a bar­tender is not about mak­ing dif­fi­cult cock­tails or us­ing ex­otic in­gre­di­ents that no­body has used pre­vi­ously. The job of a bar­tender is to craft new ex­pe­ri­ences and tell a story through the cock­tail he cre­ates for the guest, to con­tin­u­ally amaze them and make sure they have an un­for­get­table time.

: Where do you get your in­spi­ra­tion for your cock­tails?

K: Maybe it's a bit cliché but I get my in­spi­ra­tion from my kids and the sweets that they en­joy. Some­times I am in­spired by child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences in creat­ing a cock­tail, I use gar­nishes such as cot­ton candy or clas­sic choco­late wafer brands that I used to eat as a child. It's fun and quirky I sup­pose, and my cus­tomers love it!

Loewy (loewy­jakarta.com)

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