The Yum List gets the inside scoop on life behind the bar in an interview with Glen Oliver Joseph, head bartender of PS150.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I’m currently leading the bar programme and cocktail creativity for PS150. I started out working at clubs in Ipoh just after high school to earn some extra pocket money. Then it was all about fun and games, working while partying and trying to master flairing. As the bar scene evolved, I decided to expand my knowledge by working in Bali, China and Macau and eventually settled in Kuala Lumpur. It has been 17 years since I first began and I’m still loving it.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part is constantly finding new ideas and techniques to create interesting cocktails! The worst? Having to come home in the wee hours of the morning!
What is your favourite alcoholic beverage?
As much as I love mixing cocktails, my go-to tipple is an ice cold beer.
What is your style of bartending?
My style of bartending is spirit-forward and classics.
What’s one of the craziest or scariest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
Many years back, the scariest thing was having over 30 triad members gatecrash the bar I was working at. It was a busy night and they brought their machetes and cleavers with them!
The perfect day off would be…
No work-related phone calls or text messages.
A day in the life of a head bartender is…
Making sure that the bar operation runs like a smooth criminal.
What do you do for fun?
Get out into nature as much as I can. I love waterfalls and trekking.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about PS150?
We would definitely like our guests to know that we’re an educational bar and we’re quite experimental with our drinks.
What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
A good peated whisky and grilled meat.
What’s your view on the bartending community in Kuala Lumpur?
The bartending community in KL is growing rapidly with many upcoming talents. Many of us are often busy with our own outlets and rarely have the time to catch up; it doesn’t help that the bars in KL & PJ are widely spread out in different neighbourhoods. However, we do keep ourselves updated with the Facebook page called MY Bartender’s Handshake or Kuala Lumpur Bartender Association. Here we share new information on new cocktail techniques, events, gossip and so on.
What’s your view on the bar scene in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur?
Chinatown KL has always been seen as a vice district and also a backpacker haven. The younger generation wouldn’t even want to come to Chinatown as it’s been seen as a notorious and dangerous place to be in. With more hidden/speakeasy bars coming up in this area, people are now changing their perspective on how Chinatown is. It has become a new hipster hangout spot for those who want to be seen.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
I’ll be heading down to Singapore for a Bartender Exchange in the third quarter of this year using BarSol Pisco which is pretty cool. Participating in competitions is definitely also my goal for the next two years. At PS150, we’ve introduced the Bartender’s Choice: a cocktail created by one of our bartenders. It changes monthly, so do come on down to the bar and check it out!