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Meet the finalists of Speed Rack Asia 2019

Ahead of Speed Rack Asia 2019 this Sunday, October 27, we speak to the 16 ladies taking part in the competition. Scroll through the gallery and get know why they love being bartenders and more. Don’t forget to buy tickets or donate here: bit.ly/speedrackasiatickets. By Holly Graham.

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Jackwing Ying (Spin, Guangzhou)

Favourite classic cocktail: Whisky Sour without egg white.

What do you love about bartending?
I enjoy the process of creating a drink. Bartenders learn lots of life skills and I love making drinks that make me happy. Plus I get to meet people from all walks of life when I’m working.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
It’s getting stronger but it’s not easy for women in bartending. But if you choose this hard job, you must love it and put all your passion into it, no matter what.

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Thai Nhu Quynh (Snuffbox, Ho Chi Minh City)

Favourite classic cocktail: Gimlet.

What do you love about bartending?

I feel myself when I’m working behind the bar!

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
I’m really proud of the women in our community and want to do everything I can to support feminism.

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Laxmi Wustmann (Staizone Novella, Hong Kong)

Favourite classic cocktail: Sazerac.

Has breast cancer had an impact on your life or of anyone that you know and love?
Breast cancer runs in my family, so it’s always been a big concern for us. Sadly, it no longer comes as a surprise if one of my relatives is diagnosed.

What do you love about bartending?
For me it’s the people that I meet – I always want to give them a great experience but it’s always different because everyone has their own version of what makes them happy. I also love the continuous everyday learning – in the bar industry you can never stop learning because there are so many spirits and variations, and you can also learn about wine, liqueurs, vermouths, amaros etc.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
I feel like it’s a very natural thing that we are all equals in this community: I cannot think of a time where I didn’t feel that way. We are involved and are allowed to participate in anything that we like and I’ve always felt I can speak about how I feel.

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Arlene Wong (The Pontiac, Hong Kong)

Favourite classic cocktail: White Negroni.

What do you love about bartending?
The community of bartenders, and the love and respect when you serve somebody a drink that they genuinely enjoy.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
Hong Kong’s got some badass women leading currently, and our industry is very accepting but among consumers you still see some prefer male barkeeps, so we still need to work on that.

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Wing Yan Lo (DraftLand, Hong Kong)

Favourite classic cocktail: Mojito.

What do you love about bartending?
I love talking to people and I love moving around, I can’t really sit still! Cocktails are a kind of art form to me and when I create a cocktail, I find it very satisfying. What makes it even better is when people appreciate the cocktails that I make – that keeps me going!

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
Girl power and feminism are definitely getting stronger in my community. There are more and more female bartenders nowadays, which means women are getting more equal opportunities to show their talents.

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Sky Huo (The Sea By The Old Man, Hong Kong)

Favourite classic cocktail: Old Fashioned.

What do you love about bartending?
Making things. It’s fun to be creative. Creating great drinks allows you to deliver what you believe. It’s learning new things to make cool things happen. And, to make people happy; to bring people together; to enjoy life more!

What’s your guilty drinking pleasure (be honest!)?
Jager bombs!

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Summer Lo (Blue Bar at Four Seasons, Hong Kong)

Favourite classic cocktail: Negroni.

What do you love about bartending?
Everything is so new and exciting even after six years of bartending. Every day I am very passionate and happy to bartend.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
I see that girl power is growing stronger and fairer in the community. I also think we have the advantage of being more detail oriented, especially in the hospitality industry!

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Ee Cheeng Wong (Happy Stan, Kuala Lumpur)

Favourite classic cocktail: Old Fashioned.

What do you love about bartending?
I was a coffee barista at first, and bartending has been always in my mind but it seemed so far away. I then got the chance to learn this fine art and was instantly hooked to the fun and excitement of being able to balance a drink and to continue the legacy of someone or even reignite it. In some cases, we can even convey our message, personality and character into a drink and make it enjoyable at the same time. That thought alone thrills me.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
Girl power and feminism in my community has been rising. Females are respected so much more in every single way. That harmony between all genders is something that I’ve always aspired to. It’s not that we want to be better than men, we just want to respect one another. Only then we can live in harmony.

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Faye Fernando (The Cove, Manila)

Favourite classic cocktail: Boulevardier.

Has breast cancer had an impact on your life or of anyone that you know and love?
Not yet and hopefully my family won’t experience it, but my Mum and my niece had surgery to remove benign breast cysts, which was still scary. Now I’m proud because of my passion I can contribute and support people in need, especially women with breast cancer.

What do you love about bartending?
I used to want to be a chef, but when I started working at The Curator, it made me realise that bartending is like cooking, but instead of fire we use ice! I love the endless study that you need to produce different kinds of drinks that are full of surprises. I also get to meet a lot of people from all over that world that eventually become my friends and family.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
Right now in the Philippines, male bartenders support us girls and they’re pushing us up not down. We also treat each other like brothers and sisters.

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Yvonne Chan – The Old Man Hong Kong

Favourite classic cocktail: Martinez

What do you love about bartending?
It’s incredible to meet and interact with different people every day. It makes your day inspiring and I love when guests come back and become a regular.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
It’s been growing in my community and I would really like to be part of it – not only to keep it up but also to inspire other communities where women haven’t been treated as equal as men.

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LZ Zapanta (The Pontiac, Hong Kong)

Favourite classic cocktail: Daiquiri

Has breast cancer had an impact on your life or of anyone that you know and love?
It has an impact because this concerns every woman I know, and myself. Fighting breast cancer is a hard battle and I don’t want anyone to have this disease, so whatever campaign there is to help, I will always support it.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
It’s good that we’re fighting for women and there’s a growing movement. Because after all, men and women were made equally. I feel like there’s this label that men can do more than women, but not on my watch! We are women and we are as good as every human being on earth.

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Piromporn “Gift” Naknuen (Gardens Gastronomy Bar, Phuket)

Favourite classic cocktail: Negroni.

What do you love about bartending?
A bartender is the person who introduces drinks to people that want to drink in the right way and I love gaining so many skills such as teaching; entertaining; knowledge; action and creativity. For me being a bartender is the best job in the world.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
In my community there are lots of smart women full of ability. They are the people that I respect and idolise because men and women have the same skills. I look to them for motivation.

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Jayden Ong (Nutmeg & Clove, Singapore)

Favourite classic cocktail: Dry Martini.

Has breast cancer had an impact on your life or of anyone that you know and love?
A close classmate of mine had breast cancer when she was 19. It made me realise that breast cancer can happen to anyone, at any age. It taught me not to take health for granted.

What do you love about bartending?
You can make someone’s day with just one drink or a sincere conversation. Bartenders have the ability to turn one’s day from terrible to great! I love the human connections and making people happy.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
My community in Singapore is really supportive of gender equality in the industry. I am super glad that through the years, we have kept talking about it and everyone seems so aligned that gender equality is the way to go. We start to see more female bartenders joining competitions and owning the stage locally and globally. Super proud of it!

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Macarena Rotger (The Other Roof, Singapore)

Favourite classic cocktail: Daiquiri

Has breast cancer had an impact on your life or of anyone that you know and love?
I recently was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a mastectomy and I am currently recovering. My aunt passed away from breast cancer, too.

What do you love about bartending?
The human interaction and adrenaline. There’s nothing like making someone’s day better or someone’s night so memorable, or that adrenaline rush from the weekend slam. I’ve also never found another industry with the same sense of genuine care for one another.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
I feel that female bartenders are awakening to the power they have as females and are more aware of the qualities they bring to the table as women and as individuals. There is definitely a growing sense of community, support and of having one another’s backs.

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Polina Lee (Southside Parlor, Seoul)

Favourite classic cocktail: Negroni.

What do you love about bartending?
I find bartending is a very multifaceted job. Making drinks for guests and making them fast and delicious is interesting on its own, but adding the social part of it is really what makes it the best. I don’t think I would ever be able to learn so much about people, the world and myself if I hadn’t become a bartender.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
Korea is a country that still carries a fair share of patriarchy in its culture, and you can definitely see how bartenders are predominantly male in the industry here. A big part of the reason is that bartending, whether you’re a man or woman, is looked down upon as a job in Korea is looked down on. It makes it even worse for women, given that society tends to form negative opinions on female bartenders making certain assumptions on their behaviour. So there is, obviously, still a lot of progress to be done in terms of girl power.

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However, I do see that there are changes happening. In the last five years years, the female bartending community has definitely grown. My bar and its sister bar Pocket, has a bigger proportion of female to male bartenders and definitely great support from the owners of the bar which carries on to our customers as well. I hope as time progresses and Speed Rack in Asia happens more often, the Korean bartending community will have even more female bartenders.

Heidi Hou (Honi Honi Tiki Lounge, Hong Kong

Favourite classic cocktail: Rum Old Fashioned

What do you love about bartending?
I love that my job is also my passion, whether my cocktails relieved a customer’s night after a hard day’s work or simply because they enjoyed it. A simple smile on their face is enough to make my night.

What do you feel about girl power and feminism in your community?
Female bartenders are just as tough as men when it comes to working behind the bar, albeit in a different way. I’ve seen many cases, that women tend to be perceived as vulnerable, emotional or need to be treated delicately, so others often avoid commenting on our work which in turn makes it hard for women to improve as quickly.

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