Manhattan’s Ricky Paiva on his crazy plans…and making cocktails for dogs

What do you think about the Singapore cocktail scene?
I truly love the local cocktail scene. It’s quite similar to what I have seen across the world, and you can feel the love and passion inside each drink. The only difference to San Francisco is the weather.

Are you inspired by anything local, since Singapore is known as a foodie paradise?
All the fresh exotic fruits–exotic by San Francisco standards–are quite fun to play with. I catch myself just walking around the local grocery stores, looking and thinking about what I can do with all these items. I have different fruit syrups that are used in Manhattan’s beverage menu. With time and the use of the extensive ingredients room, which will consist of some local dried herbs and fruits, guests will start to see more of locally-inspired elements mixed into the classic cocktails found at Manhattan.

What is your go-to drink for a customer who is indecisive?
I would ask what sort of things they normally drink so I can get a glimpse of what I should lean towards. But when that doesn’t work, a Gold Rush, which consists of Bourbon, lemon and honey is a winner with most.

What drink would you make for yourself to unwind or when you’re out?
When I unwind I usually just want a nice cold IPA, and maybe a shot (whisky or tequila).

Tell us more about the Rickhouse at Manhattan. What sorts of kooky experiments are you trying to achieve?
Well, the Rickhouse has a six-barrel Solera system set up for aging the Negronis, which is pretty rad. But I’ve also got some bitters and different finishes that I’m planning. Even collaborating with the chef, but I’ll save that one for later.

Weirdest drink you’ve ever made.
I have muddled Snickers candy bars into some drinks in the past.

Weirdest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer.
Back when I spent a few years in Portland, Oregon, I did have a guest ask if I could make their dog something to drink!

So you were crowned “Best Personality”. What do you think the difference is between a good bartender and a great one?
To me, the difference between a good bartender and a great bartender would be knowing you’re there for the customer and that you’re there for them to have a good time–not the other way around.

Words of wisdom? Mantras? Rules to live by?
There are two things I fully believe in, behind and in front of the bar. One: you never know who you’re serving–so give everybody the respect they deserve. Two: you are only as good as your last drink.


For more info on the brand new “it” bar Manhattan, click here.