Confessions of a private bartender: Tai tais and bachelorettes love him
Tai tais love him.
So do bachelorettes at their hen nights.
No, Mr Henry Lim is not an escort or a stripper. But he can still mix it up as a part-time bartender.
Mr Lim has worked at hundreds of private home parties, mixing cocktails for guests.
The parties range from wedding ceremonies, baby showers, birthday bashes and even poker nights.
For an average price of $100 per hour, he can whip up any kind of drink in stylish fashion with his bartending flair.
He charges more if he also has to supply the liquor and other ingredients.
Part-time bartending provides a good side income for the sales executive, who gets about five bookings each month.
His most profitable events so far have been private mahjong parties thrown by a group of well-heeled tai tais, says Mr Lim.
They can play for hours into the night, which also means extra cash for him.
"Now and then, they gather at someone's house to play mahjong and gossip about their husbands.
"It is like a scene from Desperate Housewives," says the 30-year-old.
Most of the homes have private bars, which, he says, are usually meant for the husbands.
"They have a bar but they don't know how to use it properly.
"You can't expect them to ask their maids to mix drinks while they play mahjong."
So good is Mr Lim's rapport with the tai tais that they sometimes allow him to stand in for a few hands when they need to leave the mahjong table for a break.
Other than mahjong parties, Mr Lim also mixes drinks for stag and hen nights, which, he reveals, can get uncontrollably rowdy.
Once, he was a reluctant "volunteer" for a male stripper's performance because none of the bachelorettes were willing to participate.
A common request is to concoct the most potent of cocktails, usually meant to knock out the nervous wife- or husband-to-be.
"It is all in good fun. These guests want to do the extreme things but don't want to embarrass themselves in public.
"They are private for a reason," he explains with a smile.
Mr Lim confesses that he does not stop the drinks from flowing even when the guests have had too much, unless told to do so by the host who hired him.
But what happens when the host gets drunk?
"It has never happened but if it does, I will try to, you know, moderate the amount of alcohol the host drinks," he says.
"That's because the host has to be sober enough to pay me at the end of the party."
His only rule is not to serve alcohol to minors, adding that he makes this point clear to the host before every booking.
Things do get ugly sometimes when neighbours call up the police, usually because of high noise levels.
Guests also get too intoxicated, spilling drinks, breaking glasses or getting into violent rages, he admits.
Mr Lim says: "You should see the state of some of the homes after the party ends. I've seen carpets soaked in alcohol.
"But hey, I don't judge. I am glad they like my drinks."
SECRETS OF THE TRADE
- Bring extra ingredients, such as olives and lemons, in case a particular cocktail becomes the only thing guests order.
- Bottle-flinging, juggling and other tricks are indispensable skills. The more impressive you are, the more likely guests will book you again or recommend you to friends.
- In addition to memorising cocktail recipes, remember how they taste like so that you can match cocktails to the guests’ preferences.