When Bannie Kang started her career working back of house at a Singapore hotel in 2010, it’s unlikely she fathomed that in just over a decade, she would become one of the most respected bartenders in the continent. A combination of hard work, an innate talent for service and a mixing technique regarded by many as one of the most efficient ever developed have all contributed to her success.
Barely 11 years after stirring her first professional cocktail, Kang is named the Mancino Bartenders’ Bartender as part of the programme for Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021. For this award’s selection, the head bartender from each of the bars on the 2021 list is asked to give the name of the one person who they believe has done more to further the craft of bartending than any other in the past 18 months. With myriad success stories behind her and countless community-focussed acts throughout the pandemic, Kang is a bona fide winner this year.
Kang learnt her craft at Singapore’s Anti:dote under Tom Hogan, a man she calls her mentor who encouraged her to trust her instincts. Her time there saw her cultivate the mixing skills for which she is now known, in particular the unique South Korean spin she applies to many of her drinks. Her first cocktail which made the menu at Anti:dote – a fresh concoction of rum, lemongrass and basil – set her skill apart from other bartenders. Over the proceeding years she has learned to trust her palate and employ flavours she is familiar with.
By working with native South Korean ingredients, Kang can craft a narrative around her cocktails – no drink makes her menu without a story behind it. At her new bar Mu, which she opened in Taipei, Taiwan one year ago, she focusses on the flavours of her childhood and encourages her staff to do the same. Her plan is to provide a platform for her team to develop and tell their own stories, all the while adding currency to the Taiwanese cocktail scene on an international stage.
A bartender who has brought a new dimension of flavour to Asia and who hosts a huge energy to support her peers, Bannie Kang is a worthy winner of the Mancino Bartenders’ Bartender Award 2021.
Read the interview with Bannie Kang on 50 Best Stories and watch the video: