If you’ve ever been to Speak Low — Shanghai’s sole access to this point on World’s 50 Best Bars — possibilities is you’ve at the least gotten a glimpse of Faye Chen hard at paintings behind the bar. The Taiwanese bartender helped proprietor Shingo Gokan open the bar in 2014, at what she recalls as the arrival of Shanghai’s “cocktail revolution.” She’s now teamed up together with her satisfactory buddy to convey an all-new drinking experience to New York City: turning the flavors of Chinese and Western meals into shockingly palatable cocktails.
Chen sat down with us in Shanghai to speak approximately tasks vintage and new, plus the boom of Chinese cocktail lifestyle, and stir up a drink or of her very own.
Let’s start out with a fun one. What become your first experience with alcohol, and how vintage have been you?
My first experience consuming alcohol became a well-known Taiwanese beer. I changed into maybe 14 years old — is that okay to say out loud? — and I become attempting to reveal off to my schoolmates. And the primary taste changed into lousy — I couldn’t understand why human beings appreciated drinking! But now, of direction, I adore it.
How did you first get commenced bartending?
Years in the past I used to work as a waitress at membership in Taipei — one with a stay band, that form of issue. I recall it turned into our anniversary celebration, and my boss employed a flair bartender to move onstage and perform. I was young and knew nothing approximately bartending, and while he did a display onstage with lighting and fireworks I changed into like, “Wow!” So I requested him for the commercial enterprise card of his bartending studio and signed up for lessons.
For those folks that don’t recognize, what is aptitude bartending?
Flair bartending is sort of an exhibit wherein they add a few greater visible fun at the back of the bar for the customers — like flipping bottles, or juggling glassware or ice. I did need to be an inherent ability bartender at the start, however, on the time, it wasn’t clean to make money doing that. You ought to only make the bottom earnings because customers didn’t think to present any greater tips for that. And that wasn’t honestly sufficient to stay on. I then gave up at the idea and switched to simply being behind the bar making traditional cocktails.
For years you have been behind the bar at Speak Low in Shanghai, the very best-ranked mainland Chinese bar in World’s 50 Best Bars. How did you emerge as running there?
My pal and commercial enterprise partner in New York, GN Chan, added me to the founding father of Speak Low, Shingo Gokan. Shingo used to seek advice from in a bar known as Angel’s Share in New York City. GN labored for Shingo, and after Shingo gained the Bacardi Global Legacy cocktail opposition in 2012, he wanted to open a bar called Speak Low. At that point, GN introduced me to Shingo-san, and I moved to Shanghai to open the bar with him.
What did a night time at Speak Low usually appear like for you?
As ways as I bear in mind, six months after Speak Low opened we became certainly, definitely busy. That form of busy wherein you don’t have time to consume or to use the washroom. We always shared obligations and often had to run the ground via ourselves, just one bartender and one bar again. It turned into non-stop making drinks and provider, with clients coming inside and out in no time. I became managing on the time, so I needed to be everywhere, wherever they needed me: 2nd ground, third ground, server, hostess, office work, cleansing the lavatories.