Hidden Bar in Singapore

Hidden away in Singapore is a cocktail bar that is unlike any other I’ve been to. It isn’t that easy to find, but that was part of the fun. In this basement bar you won’t find spirit bottles on the back bar, but dozens of different ingredients in jars. The drinks list isn’t long but definitely does not disappoint!


Operation Dagger is known well around the world in the drinks industry. Listed as number 30 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2019.

The cocktail list contains the name and a few of the flavours you should expect. Base spirits or brand names are kept hidden from the patrons eye. Instead of ordering a cocktail based on the base spirit, they would rather you choose your libation from the flavours that interest your taste the most. They back their cocktails by saying that they will replace your cocktail with another option, if you don’t enjoy the one you ordered. I doubt that they replace many drinks.

The venue has a pretty simple decor, but it worked well. I really enjoyed the lighting features located throughout the venue.


The staff were very welcoming, especially the French waiter that looked after us and took the time to speak with us.

If you manage to find this place and you can get a seat, I would absolutely suggest exploring the drinks they have to offer and the very different way in which they do it. The “Hot & Cold” is very popular and worth trying! I only spent about an hour here, but will definitely be coming back.

Operation Dagger details…

Address: 7 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore

Phone: +65 6438 4057

Facebook: www.facebook.com/operationdagger

Where I started…

As we are flying through the weeks of 2018 so fast, I keep thinking more and more about the 17th March. I’m not Irish and I’m waiting for the Guinness. This date is when I jumped in the deep end, with my hospitality livelihood.

Starting work in an Irish pub known as Micky Finns, in the heart of Christchurch on the 17th March 2003. I didn’t know then that this would be the start of my passion for the industry. Starting as a glassy in a pub was something I enjoyed, at my age. I was in a place that only people aged 18 and older could be… except for me! Picking up glasses and having to wash the cigarette smoke out of my hair every night wasn’t the dream, but being part of a team that created a fun environment for people to come and enjoy their night out was great.

Micky Finns was a popular live music venue, with a low ceiling and the walls were filled with framed posters or maps or instruments. Trading 7 days a week, with live music every night. It was above Rockpool which was a pool hall with 32 pool tables and played drum n bass music on the weekends.

Being young, I didn’t know much about alcohol, so I took it upon myself to learn. Each shift I worked, I would pick a bottle from the back bar and learn about it, next shift was another bottle. I was only getting weekend shifts and I wanted more. I thought the more I worked, the more chance I could leave school. I was trained to help the cellar man during the day time, which managed to eventually get me out from going to school. I went from cleaning the floor from glasses and ash trays to cleaning ice machines and 600L beer tanks. I was still learning about science (effects of CO2), maths (stock control and ordering) and history (the building was the first bank in Christchurch) but just not in a classroom filled with students that didn’t want to be there. I was absorbing all the information I could get because I was enjoying learning again.

During my weekend nights shifts as back bar I would be around the bartenders so I could watch what they were doing because I wanted to become a bartender. I offered to come in when I wasn’t working to learn from the bartenders and work for free next to them. If they were bartending, I would just try to copy and paste their actions. I would offer to work shifts when staff called in sick. I was hungry for more hours. It wasn’t for the money so much, more for the enjoyment. I was meeting new people, listening to live music, making new friends and being part of a fun team.

On 10th December 2004, New Zealand banned smoking in all indoor workplaces. The third country to bring in this change, and it was a change! We had to create a smoking area and hide the smell of old beer from people spilling their drinks in the carpet, vomit and sweaty people dancing. Smoking had covered these smells prior. It soon become my job to buy incense for the bar, about $100 worth of incense at a time.

One of the owners had an influence on many staff, as he would make you more aware of your surroundings. Many times would he order a drink and leave it somewhere around the venue. It was a test to see if you were checking the floor for cleanliness.  Sometimes a framed poster would be taken off the wall to see if you would notice it missing. This may sound bad to some people, but I think it was great training. I have high standards because of this training but many people have noticed this and complimented my workplace for being clean and tidy.

Being the first venue I worked in, it moulded me a lot of the way I am today in hospitality. I try to take something away from each position and I am always open to learning more.

I look forward to the Micky Finns and Rockpool reunion this St Patricks Day.

Beenleigh Artisan Distillers – Queensland, Australia

Yesterday I made my way down to Australia’s oldest registered distillery to learn the Beenleigh Artisan Distillers story.

When thinking about Australian Rum, many people only know about the Bundaberg brand. Many people are missing out, if the haven’t tried the Beenleigh Rum range. As the Beenleigh Distillery (registered as Inner Circle Distillery) is only a short drive from central Brisbane, it would be great to see more people learning the history of this distillery.

Your tour starts by leaving the bar/showroom and heading out towards the big red shed. As you make your way, you learn about the SS Walrus, where the first copper pot still came from. 

You will also hear about one of the key ingredients used, this being molasses, sourced from the last family owned sugar mill in Australia. 

You will be taken up the stairs to a walk way between the 2 mixing tanks and 6 metal fermentation tanks. 

The mixing tanks will combine the rain water, molasses and yeast before moving into one of the fermentation tanks, where it will be left for 3 days. During fermentation the yeast will react with the sugar from the molasses to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. This low alcohol mixture is called wash.

The wash is pumped into the column still and heated for 12 hours to turn the alcohol into vapours while leaving the water and waste behind. The vapours travel long a pipe and into a condenser, that will cool the vapours back into a liquid form. This liquid then travels to a copper pot still to be redistilled. 

After the second distillation, the spirit will be left to age. Depending on the spirit they are making, depends on how it is aged. The rooms next to the stills, are the homes to the old vats that store the white rum. Some of these vats are over 100 years old. 

The other rums are aged in a different area, which is where to tour leads to next. Inside the warehouse near the bar/ showroom is the second aging area. In here are many vats and barrels of different sizes. Some rums are stored in the vats, before being aged in ex-bourbon barrels. Some limited edition rum has been aged in ex-brandy vats and then ex-port barrels.

The warehouse is also storing some experimental trials that we may later find out about. I did hear of an exciting new product they will be releasing soon! 

After the tour, you may take part in a tasting of the range.

If you are hungry or feel like another drink, they can cure your hangry or thirst.

If you haven’t been, I do suggest going. The history is very interesting to learn about.
Beenleigh Artisan Distillers details…

Address: 142 Distillery Road, Eagleby, 4207

Phone: (07) 3807 3737

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BeenleighRum/

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat and Sun 10am – 4pm

(Tours aren’t available on Monday & Tuesday) 

Beardy’s Bar & Kitchen – Brisbane, Australia

I love seeing venues converting into bars. This venue once was a car washing/cleaning shop and has been converted into a drive through cafe, bar and kitchen.


Having been on a Sunday, this is a great place to enjoy tasty burgers, wings and chips while enjoying a refreshing drink in the shady outdoor area. Listening to the live music with the cool breeze made for a great relaxing Sunday afternoon.


If you are heading to work the next day, pick up a $10 breakfast burger and coffee combo from the drive through cafe. I haven’t seen any drive through cafes that I recall except for fast food chains like McDonald’s which isn’t the place I think of when I’m wanting a coffee.

This location won’t work for those on the South Side, but if you are heading out to Redcliffe for a day trip, I would suggest making a stop here to please your taste buds.


Beardy’s Bar & Kitchen details…

Address: 405 Elizabeth Ave, Kippa Ring, 4021

Phone: 0477 635 013

Facebook: www.facebook.com/beardysbarandkitchen

Hours: Mon-Wed 6am – 4pm, Thur & Fri 6am – 8pm, Sat 7am – 8 and Sun 7am – 5pm

How I write a blog.

Blogging and travelling can be hard, more so if you decide to start a blog during your travels. If you are wondering why some of the photos I use on my blog or social media sites has a wide lens or fisheye lens look to them, then it is because I have taken those photos from a GoPro Hero4 Silver camera. I also use my Apple iPad Air to write the blog posts on and help update some social media sites. My Apple iPhone 4 also comes in handy to take pictures on the go and run my Instagram account. Also not worried if its lost, damaged or stolen during my travels. You don’t need anything too fancy in my opinion to start a blog, in the words of Nike… Just do it!


These are the blogs I follow, maybe they might interest you also!

travelFREAK – www.travelfreak.net

Nourished Spirits – www.nourished-spirits.com

Don’t Forget To Move – www.dontforgettomove.com

If you would like to suggest some more, contact me.

What is pulque?

Pulque is a Mexican alcoholic drink that has been around for a long time. It’s not common to see it outside of Mexico to my understanding, except for a few canned and bottled products available in USA.

It is made from agave but created differently to mezcal or tequila. You can find this drink in pulquerias or some bars around Mexico.


To my understanding from my recent visit to Mexico, this is how pulque is made…

This unique drink is made from harvesting “agua miel” honey water from the top of the agave. They scrape out the inside of an agave that is ready and it reproduces agua miel daily. This agua miel is fermented for a few days to create pulque. Its alcoholic content is about 3-4% depending on the length of fermentation. If it is left to ferment for longer the alcohol content is higher but the drink becomes sour, where if the drink isn’t left as long then it would be sweeter, but not as strong. It is generally served within 1-2 days after fermentation depending on the venue. Fresh is best. The same agave can be used daily for a to 3-6 months from my understanding.


This cloudy milky looking drink is served natural or can be blended with cucumber and chili or other house blends. Having tried it a few times, it is a little different depending on where you get it from. Most of the time when served naturally it has a slimy texture to it, similar to drinks made from aloe vera. It is said to contain lots of good vitamins and protein.

You can watch a video about pulque production here.

If you are in Mexico, do try it!

Boulenc Pan – Oaxaca City, Mexico

Since I just enjoyed my last visit to Boulenc Pan before leaving Oaxaca, I thought I would write about my experiences here.

When you walk into this busy bakery and cafe, you are greeted by the friendly staff. If you are lucky, you might be able to sit at the counter, on one of six stools and enjoy a meal. If not, you can wait for someone to finish, or grab a coffee and some baked goods to go.

I have enjoyed a few meals here and watched the staff make your meal in front of you while others are baking. This was the first cafe I enjoyed espresso coffee in Oaxaca and my favourite. Most if not all the meals come out with freshly baked bread. 

If you are thirsty on a hot day, you can enjoy a cold coffee or a flavoured water, both are refreshing. 

This place is busy for a reason! You may have to wait for your food, but in my experience, it will be worth it?

Boulenc Pan’s details…

Address: Porfirio Diaz #222, Colonia Centro, Oaxaca City

Phone: 044 951 514 0582

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Boulenc-534647166618801/

Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am – 8:30pm, Saturday 8:30am – 4pm, Sunday closed.

Mezcalogia – Oaxaca City, Mexico


I’ve found that when you work at a bar, there can be occasional perks. One of those perks is knowing a network of people that work in bars worldwide. Finding recommendations can be difficult, but I asked a friend, that suggested some places to visit during my stay in Oaxaca.

Mezcalogia was suggested to me and I’m so glad it was. During my time in Oaxaca I had been to Mezcalogia a few times. I enjoyed a drink while chatting with the staff or other patrons. One night I was relaxing with a mezcal and met the author of a book I had just started reading a few weeks before that night, John McEvoy, the author of Holy Smoke! it’s Mezcal!

This is a bar for locals and tourist to enjoy. It is quite small with only 7 tables and the bar to sit at, but the atmosphere is always enjoyable… for me at least. They have the Mezcalogia range of mezcales available to buy, in 1oz, 2oz or by the bottle. This range is an extremely small batch and generally contains mezcal from rare agave.


They also stock the full range from Agave de Cortés, El Jolgorio and Nuestra Soledad. These mezcales are also offered by one ounce, two ounce or the bottle, but sometimes they also stock half bottles of some products, to help with the decision.

Along with the mezcales, they also stock two gins made from agave, and a few artisanal beers. If these options aren’t what you are looking for, you can look out for the changing cocktail board or speak to the staff for help.
You may be lucky enough to listen to live music or a DJ if it’s the weekend. Pop in and see what you think!
Mezcalogia’s details…

Address: Calle Manuel Garcia Vigil #509, Centro, Oaxaca City

Phone: 044 951 514 2734

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Mezcalogia/485097061637194

Hours: Sun-Thur 6pm – 1am, Friday & Saturday 6pm – 2am

Mezcalillera – Oaxaca City, Mexico

Walking along the streets of Oaxaca and you can find some interesting shops. One afternoon I was walking the streets and found the doorway of Mezcalillera. From the footpath I could see many beautiful bottles of mezcal on display, so I HAD to enter! What sort of mezcal fan would I be if I just walked past?

During the day, the display looks beautifully presented, I haven’t been during the night time but I would have liked to. If anyone is interested in mezcal, I suggest coming here to find out more. They have pictures of some agaves on the wall behind the counter.

If you are a collector of miniature bottles or would like 50ml sample bottles they also have them for sale here from a few producers.

They are advertised as a bar on Facebook, having not been upstairs, I don’t know if they have more seating than the few stools at the counter. With the trading hours, I suggest they are more of a bottle shop than a bar.

Mezcalillera’s details…

Address: Murguía #403 A, Centro Histórico, Oaxaca City

Phone: 044 951 514 1757

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mezcalillera

Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am – 9pm, Sunday 12pm – 8pm

Mezcal made with soul

After visiting a few palenques recently, I thought I would share the process of mezcal. Mezcal prices are quite high in Australia, but I believe they are worth it and more so after my visit to Oaxaca. Mezcal is made with love, soul and skill! I’m not saying other products aren’t, but the traditional mezcal process hasn’t changed with technology in the palenques I visited. I’m sure you can find a factory mass producing mezcal, but not with the brands I visited.

Starting with the base ingredient, agave, which can take up to 40 years to grow for some varieties. You will mostly find mescal made from espadin agave because it is commonly farmed in Oaxaca and takes about 8-10 years to grow. Some agave including espadin are grown in the wild but with the increased interest globally for mezcal, the supply of wild agave is decreasing.


Once the agave is about to die, it will grow a shoot into the air.  The producer will harvest the agave by cutting the leaves off the piña (heart) of the agave and transport them back to their palenque. They are cut (depending on the size) to be prepared for the cooking process.

They start a fire in the horno (earth oven) and put rocks on the fire to heat up. Some producers will add fibers from previous batches to protect the piñas from burning. On goes the agave and then dirt is placed on top to seal the oven. During this process it takes about six workers as it needs to seal quickly. The horno will be left to cook the agave for three to four days. This converts the starch inside the agave into fermentable sugars.


When the cooked agave arise from the oven, they are cut up into smaller pieces for crushing and transferred to the crushing pit. This stone pit contains a tahona wheel (stone wheel) that rolls around crushing the agave into fibers. The wheel is heavy and normally powered with a horse, which will turn the wheel around for about three hours per day.


With the fibers crushed, they are moved into a one hundred litre wooden fermentation tank along with water. The tanks are left to naturally ferment with wild yeast for about four days.


The tank is emptied with each distillation. They add the fibers and liquid of the tank into the stills. During my visits all the stills have been made from copper but I have heard some producers use clay pot stills. The two fifty to three hundred stills will run for around four hours and are heated by fire, creating a distillate that will be around forty to fifty percent. When the still heats to seventy eight degrees, the alcohol vapours will rise up the still and along the pipe, into a condenser. The condenser, will convert the vapour into liquid again. Then it will go through another distillation and come out somewhere between seventy to ninety percent.


The new spirit is then stored in tanks until it is tested and ready to be bottled. It can be rested in large glass bottles and surprisingly mature and round out the mezcal. Some producers will age their mezcal in wooden barrels before bottling.