Chilled 100 member, Derrick Li, is part of the San Francisco market.
Derrick immigrated from China to the United States in 2007 to start a better life for himself. He began as a graphic designer in San Francisco’s Chinatown while he was taking ESL classes at the City College of San Francisco. He wanted to learn and improve his English skills.
He came across a Bartending & Table Waiting class and decided to enroll. He developed a passion for bartending and became inspired to become a professional bartender. After completing the course, he was referred to work at Benihana restaurant which was his first bartending job in 2012.
In 2016, Derrick joined USBG and participated in several competitions, and gained recognition. He is the Bar Director at the Palette Tea Garden restaurant in San Mateo and he has also worked as a drink creator and bar consultant. He has become obsessed with mixology and enjoys experimenting with new drinks.
Derrick truly enjoys the craft and loves meeting all of the fun people in the community. He believes that if you dedicate yourself and work hard, anything is possible.
What’s your go-to cocktail?
My go-to cocktail is: Old Fashioned classic cocktail
What are your favorite cocktail trends?
My favorite cocktail trends: would love to see perfect balance cocktail that with unique ingredients such as fermentation.
Do you have any unique skills / what separates you from other bartenders?
My unique skills I think would be (using) Chinese Baijiu, that is different from anybody else. I have been using it as my key ingredients for cocktail about 4 years already. That was unique and fun ingredient to play with!
What cocktail ingredient could you not live without? What ingredient is overrated?
Pineapple. I am a huge rum and baijiu lover; I can’t live without it for sure. I think the worst cocktail ingredient is simple syrup. There are so many different ways to obtain fat and/or sugar in your cocktails nowadays — with the proper product knowledge, that is.
What’s one piece of advice you could have given yourself when you first started out as a bartender?
Start reading and stay focus on what you love and get it done!