AFTER DINNER NIGHT LIFE
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!