10 months after launching its much awaited panoramic rooftop venue to huge fanfare in Nha Trang, Skylight: 360 Skydeck & Rooftop Beach Club has succeeded in delivering a truly world class entertainment destination. Renowned for its innovative drinks as much as the panoramic views from its vantage point, high above town, Discover Nha Trang decided to take a look behind the curtain, to find out just what it takes to make the perfect cocktail.
Skylight is the second venture of “See The World Group”; it’s flagship operation being the famous speakeasy mixology bar, “Lock & Key” in Los Angeles. While Lock & Key is famous for its specialist craft cocktails, Skylight faced the challenge of training its Vietnamese staff to the same standards of quality and service.
“Cocktail culture has been growing worldwide, and we aimed to bring it to Nha Trang. However, we were aware that service standards here were not the same as we and our clientele demand. You can tell your staff what you need from them, but if they have never experienced it before, it’s very difficult to achieve”, said TK Nguyen, Skylight’s energetic frontman.
With this in mind, See The World Group invited the the best from Lock & Key to create the Skylight menu and oversee the bar training program. Over the course of 8 months, the group brought over six of its finest American mixologists, all experts in the field of cocktail wizardry. They each spent a number of weeks sharing their wisdom of mixology, presentation, customer relations, and most importantly, passion for the craft.
“Most bartenders I’ve seen in Vietnam just make drinks, and don’t actively engage with customers, or even handle cash. Our team is the heart of Skylight, and we want to push them to the forefront. We taught them to be comfortable in all aspects of being a professional bartender, to have fun and engage the clients while they work. A truly exceptional experience doesn’t come from the setting, or even the drinks; the cherry on top is passionate staff who love their jobs and project their enthusiasm to the customer”.
The training program has certainly proved fruitful, and a visit to Skylight on any given evening is a lesson in professionalism. From the greeters at the ground floor entrance to the bartenders whipping up the complicated cocktails, this is a place where everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.. You can clearly see staff that take their work seriously,and whose energy is transferred to the crowd who dance, drink and snap selfies from below the impressive strobes of the lighthouse tower.
Skylight’s Bar Supervisor, Nguyen Truong Thanh, gives his insight.
How did you come to work at Skylight?
“I had worked for some big hotels and resorts over the last 4 years. When I saw the plans for Skylight, I knew it would be somewhere I could challenge myself, so I applied during the construction phase in 2014”.
What was it like to learn from the mixologists of Lock & Key?
“They were amazing! Having worked as a bartender in previous jobs, I thought I was pretty good at making cocktails, but they really helped take me to the next level. Their knowledge is just incredible, and they are constantly full of energy and passion for their work.
What were the most important lessons you learned from them?
“Firstly, the art and science behind making a good drink. They taught me about how to create balance and flavor in the cocktails. Following that, I learned about presentation, and how to create a good show for the customers. They had so many cool tricks and skills to mix, shake and pour, and I spent countless hours practicing with them. More importantly, I think, was how they work the bar and crowd. I learned to stay cool and calm under pressure. Now I’ve gained the technical skills, I’m able to enjoy my time with the customers, and it’s been great to meet so many amazing people from all over the world”.
What do you enjoy most about working at Skylight?
Without doubt, our amazing team. We have so many young and creative people, and it’s a real family atmosphere. The management makes us feel important; they include us in decisions and always allow us to have an input into creating new cocktails. It’s very different to my previous roles where my work was very regimented. Here, I’m allowed to think for myself and act creatively”.
Which cocktail would you recommend from the menu?
From the menu, my favorite is called ‘Old Money’. It’s a Scotch Whiskey based cocktail with ginger, Red Bitter and orange peel that has a nice balance between strength and sweetness. You can also ask for a ‘Bartender’s Choice’, where we make you something of our own creation. My signature drink contains Gin, Aperol,Cointreau and lime juice – served on the rocks. I’m still thinking of a name for it, and hope to have it on the menu once it gets the approval of my fellow mixologists!
Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
“Come to Skylight and see us in action. We promise you the best cocktails in Vietnam, and an amazing experience”.