Life is Beautiful’s Tyler Hudgens on being a lady bartender and her first Mint Julep

What’s the difference between the cocktail scene in New Orleans and here?

The cocktail scene in New Orleans has been around since the 1800s; we’ve been slinging drinks for a long time in the States, and it’s awesome to see an American creation–most people would agree that the cocktail is the only American contribution to the culinary world–grow up in different markets all over the world. Singapore has already gotten recognition as a top cocktail city, and I’m excited to be a part of it and grow with it.

What’s your favorite drink to make?

I tend to default to classics: they’re classic for a reason, and if you haven’t tried them, I’d love to share the stories behind them with you while you sip on one. Everytime someone orders a Sazerac, I smile. It’s a damn fine drink. I also love a proper Manhattan or Martini. There’s a lot of elegance in the simplicity and balance and subtlety of a well-made classic.

What was the first drink you ever had that you were completely in love with?

A Mint Julep. I was on a porch in New Orleans sitting in a rocking chair. The lady who lived there had one in a proper pewter cup. I couldn’t legally drink, but things like that don’t really matter in New Orleans. I remember my hands stuck to the tin because it was so cold and covered in frost. There’s something incredibly refreshing about bourbon and mint and sugar and crushed ice on a hot, humid afternoon. Add a porch and a rocker, and I’m in heaven.

What do you drink when you’re not working and have time off?

Oh, I don’t discriminate. All spirits have a place in my heart. For cocktails, I love herbal and citrusy notes, so a Last Word is always a good bet (gin, green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur, fresh lime). Or I go the BBS (brown, bitter, and stirred) route and do a rye Manhattan with a dash or two of orange bitters and a lemon twist. I’m a sucker for bourbon and mezcal at the moment, as well. I drink them neat, with a side of beer or cider.

Being a female in a male-dominated industry, were there any major bumps you had to overcome?

I think probably the opposite, to be completely honest with you. My colleagues have always been incredibly supportive of me. I think they were happy to have a female in the industry. I’d love to see more power females in the bar scene here. Everyone in Singapore, from distributors to bartenders to strangers, has been really excited and supportive. Sometimes people look surprised when I introduce myself as the bar manager, but it wears off pretty quickly once we get chatting about my passion.

Had any weird bartending experiences?

Oh, I have countless stories. But a bartender is a professional keeper of secrets, so I can’t share most of them. Some guy gave me his hotel room key as a tip one night. That was pretty sleazy. On a better note, I just got an email from two of my favorite regulars back home. They had met at my bar on a Friday night while I was behind the stick. And they just got engaged! So that’s pretty awesome.

Words of wisdom for fellow lady bartenders who want to get into the industry?

Come see me. I’d be more than happy to speak with you. I’d also be happy to mentor, let you sit in on training sessions, talk you through any questions you have, share my texts with you (I brought a virtual library of reference materials with me). Bartending is all about community and collaboration. And I’d love to be a resource to anyone who thinks he or she may want to be a part of it. 

Check out hip NOLA restaurant, Life is Beautiful for yourself and indulge in Tyler’s classic creations.