Filipino bartender rises for legacy
Four years ago, Orman Bag-ao was a neophyte in the world of bartending. Everyone knew he would do great at his craft. He got the skills, perseverance, and passion. But not everyone, himself included, thought that he would be phenomenal.
Orman did not only help put the Philippines in the global cocktail map by representing the country in the Global Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition in Berlin, Germany. His name is also being immortalized in the local bartending scene by his own legacy drink, Rain or Shine.
“At first, I didn’t want to join the competition, because the promotion part is something I was not used to,” Orman shares. “It was my friends who first believed in me and convinced me to give it a shot.”
Typically shy, the Davaoeño showed no signs of becoming a person of marketing and promotion. But everything changed when he was hailed as champion in Bacardi Philippines’ 8th Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition, besting four other finalists. Soon after, he found himself with other 37 bartenders from different parts of the world, representing their respective home countries.
“It’s a big thing for me to meet and be friends with top bartenders from other nations, grow my network, and experience things I would have never had if not because of the competition,” Orman says.
The entire competition wasn’t easy for Orman. He underwent rigorous preparations and did his assignment. He made an in-depth research about the brand and his concoction, did many tries and revisions before perfecting his signature cocktail drink, and gathered a huge amount of competitive spirit and confidence.
Although Orman failed to clinch the top spot against Ran Van Ongevalle from Belgium, the competition served a different purpose to him, opening new opportunities to improve his craft and expand his world.
“Winning is not the only thing that matters in a competition. It’s the journey that makes it more meaningful. Various seminars and conferences in preparation for the finals taught me a lot about bartending, including the secret to tap the human senses with touch, smell, and taste, which is essential to make drinking experience more satisfying.” Orman explains.
He adds, “My journey in the Global Barcardi Legacy Cocktail Competition has made me a better bartender. I have learned to continue the battle, win or lose, rain or shine.”
Perhaps it’s destiny that brought Orman to where he is now, which led him to come up with his legacy cocktail drink.
Orman’s own cocktail creation is, in fact, your all-time favorite classic Mojito with a twist. Its ingredients include Bacardi Carta Blanca Light rum, freshly extracted carrot juice, guava juice, mint syrup, freshly squeezed lime and grapefruit bitter. “Mojito is one of the first cocktails I’ve learned during the early years of my bartending career. By adding two key ingredients—guava juice and carrot juice, I have given it a new flavor and experience for cocktail drinkers. I added soda water to carrot juice for a watery mouth feel,” Orman explains.”
More than just a fancy drink, Rain or Shine is a legacy cocktail that symbolizes everyone’s journey in life, including Orman’s. It is a cocktail inspired by a mixture of perseverance, resilience, and passion. He reminisces, “Braving Manila from Davao was not an easy experience. I had to adjust to a lot of things that were new to me. Just like what everyone would do when faced with uncertainties, I needed to keep calm amidst struggles, give my best, and persist. Rain or shine, I persevered.”