Bar Star: Bikram Shrestha at Cé La Vi

Meet Bikram Shrestha, aka BK, the Assistant Bar Manager at Cé La Vi. He’s been shaking up their famous cocktails for two years, and he hopes to stay for many more. He describes Cé La Vi as his forever home, and if you’ve ever enjoyed a drink (or two) at this rooftop favourite, take a few minutes to get to know BK – and give him a shout next time you’re there!
  
What’s the cocktail menu like at Cé La Vi?
It is simple and at first glance, may seem less sophisticated then some of the newer menus around Hong Kong. The trend now tends to be unusual drink descriptions and glassware; however, this leaves guests guessing what the drink actually is. I am proud to say we have designed our cocktail program keeping all types and kinds of drinkers in mind. Our drinks vary sweet to bold and boozy, and we’ve also spent time to creating great options for non-alcoholic drinkers.
 
How have you changed it or shaped it in your time here?
I believe every bartender has their own touch which contributes to the cocktail menu and development. Each person has their own special skills when building new elixirs. For my part, I have tried to shape it with my interests, and research into new techniques. I like to use unique pairings to create a mouth-watering and delicious outcome. The presentation has to be perfect for me, followed by a great first sip.

bar star ce la vi

Do you have a favourite cocktail to drink and what is it?
I love a good drink, and in this occupation that’s quite normal. I love most classic ones, but am never scared to try new moderns. I am a big fan of gin and enjoy cocktails like a Gin Fizz, Gimlet or Tom Collins. But I have to say, my all-time favourite is Negroni, bittersweet and boozy.  
 
What’s your favourite cocktail to make and why?
My favourite cocktails to make is the Americano and Tom Collin. It give me sweet memories of the early days when I started in this industry -at a bar back – very eager to learn from my seniors and begin making cocktails. I tribute these two drinks to have been the kick starters in my career.
 
Do you have a favourite motto or a great piece of work advice?
My work motto has been always simple: “Work smart, play hard, party harder." But on a more serious and honest note, the best piece of advice I’ve gotten is “Eat healthy and drink lots of water.” Maintaining a good diet and keeping yourself properly hydrated throughout your workday really makes a big difference in your energy level and attitude, especially behind the bar.

ce la vi bar star

What’s the best part of your job?
I most enjoy working inside the bar with my fellow teammates, shoulder-to-shoulder. We are like soldiers, making and passing out drinks, laughing at inside jokes and of course chatting with guests. I love every part of what I do.
 
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
Well there are a lot of hilarious incidents. This one happened on a Thursday night, it was ridiculously busy and everyone was pouring in and ordering cocktails in the bar. All of a sudden, I cut my finger but still the rush kept me going on. I made like five drinks, and every guest at the bar could see that I am bleeding. Out of nowhere, a lady grabs my hand, cleans the cut and puts on a plaster. She smiled at me and I smiled back, said my thanks and got back to work. I am proud to say that since then, she has been my regular in the bar and now, a very good friend.

Cé La Vi
25/F California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Central; +852 3700 2300,
www.celavi.com

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos are the rights of their respective owners.
 

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