It’s only been a few months since Joseph Haywood moved to Singapore to helm One-Ninety Bar. And from his relaxed and sunny disposition, we can tell that he already feels at home. “I love everything here, from the weather and people to the F&B culture,” he professed.
Haywood was a rising star in Atlanta’s bar scene with various accolades under his belt. He was a finalist at the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender competition and won top honours at the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience 2016. He was even recognised for his dapper fashion sense when he was included in Bloomingdale’s 2016 Men of Style.
It was a chance encounter with Antoine Chahwan, general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, which included a discussion about negronis and Boulevardier variations, that led to the decision to move across the Pacific to lead the hotel’s bar programme.
Over cocktails, charcuterie and cheeses, we caught up with Haywood who was more than happy to share insights into his love for bartending.
How did you get into bartending?
Joseph Haywood The hospitality aspect of it (played a huge part). I didn’t think of it as a career until I joined One Flew South at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Seeing how the head bartender comforted guests drew me in.
What do you think of Singapore’s bar scene?
JH It’s so diverse, there isn’t one concept that dominates the scene. We have everything from molecular mixology bars to more unique ones that forage ingredients. It’s still growing and I’m looking forward to giving my direction and showing what I’ve to offer.
How is it different from Atlanta?
JH Where I come from, you need to be able to do everything. Bars here are more specialised, and you can pick a niche and stick to it.
What’s your style of bartending?
JH I like to keep it simple. I take tried-and-tested recipes or taste profiles and put my own spin to them.
Any recommendations from the revamped drinks menu?
JH One of the new cocktails I introduced is the House Cup. It’s wine, liqueur and Amari that we mix before adding the ginger ale and fresh fruit. It’s the perfect drink for the Singapore weather.
We also have the Hungry Hipster concocted with homemade banana syrup and bourbon, garnished with caviar and banana chip. It tastes as good as it looks.
(Related: Happy Hour With… Kamil Foltan)
Favourite spirit to work with?
JH American whiskies. The expression is more about the oak and how it plays with the grains used. It reminds me of the things I liked as a child, such as apple pies and peach cobblers.
First drink you learned to make?
JH Old Fashioned. It’s a great cocktail that teaches you how to balance the sweet and bitter flavours. My first try had an obnoxious pour of bourbon, but the guests loved it.
Do you interpret guests’ personalities through their drinks?
JH For me, it’s all about digging a little deeper and knowing what they actually want. Say, for example, they want something sweet; I’ll ask further questions (to determine) if they want it more herbal or earthier.
(Related: Happy Hour With… Joe Schofield)
If you’re not at One-Ninety, where can we find you?
JH If I’m not in the pool, I’m exploring Singapore’s bars. I’ll choose 28 HongKong Street for something more upbeat, and Manhattan for date nights. Neon Pigeon is my pick when I want to have dinner at a place that has a big bar.
What’s next on your must-try list?
JH Native. I’m sure the rest of the offerings are as creative as the ants-infused cocktail.
How do you want guests to perceive One-Ninety Bar now that you’re part of the team?
JH It’s a place that caters to everyone. We have our speciality but at the same time we’re still able to widen our scope with the ingredients we have.
If you could be anywhere in the world now, where would you be?
JH I would love to be in Japan. It has a rich culture and has a great bar scene I want to explore.