Meet the Bartender: Helena Choi, Sunset Bar

Helena Choi first became interested in the world of bartending in her early twenties when she took a bar service class during her cruise attendant programme.

"Everything was so new for me. I fell in love with spirits and cocktails, especially their stories and their creativity."

Now with a range of experience under her belt working in whisky bars, custom cocktail bars and restaurants, Choi is the Head Bartender and Bar Supervisor at Sunset Bar.

Priding itself on its seasonal menu of bespoke cocktails, local and international vintage wines and local beers, Sunset is a new venue located on the top floor of Sudima Hotel in Auckland CBD.

For Choi, what sets Sunset apart from other bars is not only its provision of great drinks and food but also its experiences. The staff members continuously strive for improvement and place providing top-notch service on the top of their priority list.

The bar caters for a wide variety of needs - including offerings like low and non-alcoholic beers, non-alcoholic cocktails and alcohol-free spirits.

For new customers, Choi usually recommends the "Gatsby's Garden" cocktail, which is made from kaffir lime-infused gin, lemon juice and honey.

Originally from South Korea, Choi noted that the attitude of New Zealanders to alcohol differs from Koreans.

"Here in New Zealand, people have big nights to celebrate lots of occasions - birthdays, promotions, engagements, Fridays, etc. Everybody picks their own drinks and celebrates together.

In Korea, most of us love Soju for most occasions instead of beer, wine or spirits, so we tend to all drink the same drink. Drinking is more about getting together to talk about our emotions and to express to friends that 'I am here for you, I understand you'."

The most rewarding part of Choi's job is the sense of accomplishment she receives from providing guests with outstanding drinks and service.

"The number of regular customers Sunset receives is a great indicator of how much love and recognition the bar has been given."