Award-winning bartender and owner of 40 Thieves
Nothing brings me more joy than seeing people that I’ve worked with in a better place in their life. I may have a great concept or idea, but I am nothing without my people.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
Before Bali, I was in Singapore running my own beverage consultancy company. I’d travel around South East Asia to raise the brand awareness for alcohol and spirits, and would visit Bali a lot for brand advocacy. In every city I visited, I immediately got sucked into the local bar scene. Yet even though I had the privilege to travel around South East Asia, I realised I kept prioritising coming to Bali more than any other city. That’s when I knew I’d fallen in love with Bali, and I soon decided to be based here. Being a bartender since I was 16 years-old, it had always been a dream to open my own bar with 100% ownership and no one to answer to. Hence in 2016, 26 years old and inspired, I decided to do exactly that. And that’s how I started my flagship brand, 40 Thieves and Mad Ronin Ramen.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Difficult question. Now that I’m 33 and thinking about it really hard, it definitely has to be the people that I’ve worked with ever since I started my company back in Singapore 14 years ago, and the people I’ve worked with for my brands in Bali in 2016. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing people that I’ve worked with in a better place in their life and inspired to always push for more. I may have a great concept or idea, but I am nothing without my people. All the commercial awards and successes wouldn’t be possible without the people I’ve worked with, and I am beyond blessed to still have loyal people around me that believe in what I do. That is the accomplishment I’m most proud of. I can be quite a tough-love kind of guy and don’t say this sort of stuff at all, so if you’re reading this, just know that I LOVE YOU!
What impact have you made in Bali?
Levelling up the drinking and bar culture in Bali. I remember back in 2014 when I was coming in and out of Bali for brand advocacy, even a simple well-made classic like an Old Fashioned, Negroni, Manhattan or Whisky Sour was so limited in Bali. Hell, Campari was so unpopular that bars didn’t even care to stock them! Back then I was offering training for a couple of bars, but I soon realised that the owners and managers didn’t really believe in well-made quality drinks due to costs and margins. That’s one of the main reasons why I was so motivated to start 40 Thieves. After opening 40 Thieves and driving through the years with our quality beverage program and spirit list, with great pleasure I’ve seen that Bali has improved tremendously and bars are now investing more into their beverage programs. I remember a few people calling me crazy to actually open a hidden speakeasy bar in Bali with no signs on the roadside; it was doomed to fail terribly. But now, everyone wants to open a speakeasy in Bali!
What does 2022 look like for you?
Well, 40 Thieves just got awarded #99 in the 50 Best Bar list for 2022 – the only bar in Bali – so there are great things in the pipeline, but I’m keeping it all a secret because I don’t want to jinx it!
What do you love most about Bali?
The local people as well as the diverse international community – it means we’re blessed with both local and international cuisine. Geographically, we also have the beach, the mountains, the jungle and you can still have the feel of a city night out too. There’s just so much activity here. I’ve invested so much in Bali, and I don’t see myself living anywhere else at the moment.
What’s your first and last drink of the day?
It starts with water, and ends with a Bourbon Highball.
Who is your Local Legend and why?
My Local Legend has to be the legendary surfer Tipi Jabrik. Not many people know, but he was one of my first few friends in Bali. I remember that during a stressful period of my life, his advice to me was, “When there’s a problem, just let it go, relax, and let it handle itself”. Whether or not that’s actually good advice, it stuck with me for years! Other than all the other legendary things he’s done for Indonesian surfing, what I really admire about him is, despite him being so busy in business and surfing, he has always managed to prioritise his family and be a present dad.