In his younger years, Gibran Baydoun wanted to change the world. “I was that hungry kid studying politics and sociology because I wanted to have an impact,” he shares. While this dream led to an internship at the White House and working on US presidential campaigns like Barack Obama’s, he soon discovered another passion: mixology.
“I was working at bars on the side to pay for my bills.”
It wasn’t until someone offered the now-general manager of Adrift a full time position that he realised he could make a career out of it. It was the start of a stellar career which led him to our sunny shores over a year ago to lead the cocktail programme of Adrift. How has life has changed since moving to Singapore? What is the one cocktail he can’t live without? Answers after the jump.
What got you into bartending?
Gibran Baydoun Diamonds & Pearls. I was having the worst day; I wanted to have this drink, so I went to one of my favourite spots, Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. At that time, I only had $40 in my bank account and each cocktail cost about $20 to $25.
I got caught up in the moment and meeting great people, that I ended up having four! I obviously didn’t have enough money to pay; just when I was about to tell the bartender, he said that the guys took care of my drinks. It took what was a horrible day to being one of the best nights I’ve ever had.
Your departure from New York must have been bittersweet.
GB It’s the first time I left the US. I miss New York; it was where I fell in love with what a sexy bar could be. The cocktails we brought pay homage to the bars and energy I miss from that city.
How do you find the bar scene here?
GB It’s similar to the scene in New York with names like Employees Only. There’s a huge focus on hand-crafted, artisanal cocktails derived from creativity and are taking a chef-approach. In terms of differences, bars there are louder in volume and energy. That’s what Adrift has become; our music has become loud… and unapologetically so.
What are you working on?
GB We developed a cool, unique list for Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday most couples celebrate in a quiet restaurant staring into each other’s eyes, so we wanted to do the complete opposite of that—whether you’re single, in a relationship or somewhere in between. You could come to Adrift to drink, party and eat all you want for a flat rate. These drinks are now available on the regular menu.
What’s your drink of the moment?
GB Kalimotxo. It’s red wine and coke, but we make ours with a dash of cinnamon.
I consider it the perfect beverage for this warm weather as it’s crisp and refreshing, making it great treat before a big night out as it gives you a caffeine boost.
I love it because people cringe when they hear it for the first time. It’s weird, funky and people don’t understand it until they have one for themselves. It’s so darn good.
Favourite spirit to work with:
GB American whisky, bourbon and rye—anything in that department. For a while, I lived in cold areas such as Michigan and Colorado; there’s something about a shot of whisky or bourbon that easily warms the body.
Most exclusive bottles in your collection:
GB I have a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, a rare spirit, and Amaro Nonino. The latter is my favourite type of Italian Amaro. I always have this at home; it’s perfect for any occasion—from a big night out to a quiet night at home. It pairs well with French fries, too!
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
GB Kirk Wagar, former US ambassador to Singapore. We had great conversations so I would love to have another drink with him.
GB Vieux Carre—which means French quarters—is a great cocktail. I love to have it at the end of the night as it warms you up and slows you down. It’s exactly how I want to end my night.