Rusty Cerven – Bar Manager at Manhattan Bar & Beverage Director at...

Rusty Cerven – Bar Manager at Manhattan Bar & Beverage Director at Conrad Singapore Orchard

Rusty Cerven

E: What are your responsibilities?

A: As a bar manager, my role is to embody the spirit of hospitality and ensure that every guest’s experience is unforgettable. I am responsible for developing and overseeing all aspects of our beverage programme. This involves supervising bar operations, including the crucial tasks of hiring skilled bartenders and staff, to ensure our team reflects the high standards of service and expertise that the bar is renowned for. In addition to creating seasonal drink menus that showcase creative, trendsetting cocktails while maintaining a focus on quality, innovation and profitability. 

A significant part of my role involves building and maintaining relationships with local suppliers to guarantee an adequate supply of high-quality spirits for our bar operations. I also look after our Friends of Manhattan programme with internationally renowned bartenders and chefs, bringing unique and memorable experiences to the Manhattan Bar and sometimes abroad. Not only this enhances our offerings but also reinforces the importance of hospitality by creating connections and sharing knowledge within the industry.

: What makes a typical day?

A: My day begins with a morning coffee in my office, a precious moment to sift through emails and organise my checklist. Next are meetings with suppliers to talk about joint ventures, product listings or future projects, and with our management team to discuss goals and solutions for operations. I catch up with the bar team to review current activations, assisting with logistics and creative aspects. Pre-shift briefings and training are crucial for a smooth operation. During busy periods, I assist in guest service and interaction, ensuring our guests receive the utmost care. My day concludes with creating a checklist and task follow-ups for the next day, followed by a night run on my way home to unwind and reflect.

E: Your best attributes?

A: Creativity, a strong drive, passion, resilience and organisation are the pillars of my professional demeanour. These attributes allow me to constantly innovate, maintain high standards of service and lead my team towards achieving excellence in our bar operations.

E: Team player or team leader?

A: In hospitality, being a team player is the foundation for becoming an effective team leader. My career has been built on the principles of support, cooperation and teamwork. Although I initially focused on my achievements, I found true fulfilment in supporting my team and aiding in their skill development. Seeing my team gain recognition and a spotlight for their hard work brings me immense joy and satisfaction.

E: Who has been the most influential figure in your career to date?

A: Stan Vadrna, a mentor and friend for life, was instrumental at the beginning of my career, teaching me the essence of true hospitality and profoundly influencing my bartending style. Following him, our cluster operations general manager of the hotel, Oscar Postma, has been the most inspirational leader I’ve had the privilege to work with. He broadened my vision and showed me how to look at my career from a bigger perspective.

E: Name one really special thing about your hotel in terms of its culinary offerings.

A: Our variety of concepts, while distinct in their individuality, are all tied together by a relentless pursuit of crafting the highest quality experiences for our guests. There is an undying commitment to craftsmanship and authenticity; from the intricate and traditional flavours of classic Cantonese cuisine at our Michelin-star restaurant Summer Palace to the authentic Italian fare at Basilico. And of course, at Manhattan, its rickhouse barrel-ageing programme, which was the first for a hotel in the world, is where we meticulously age spirits in-house to craft cocktails with unparalleled complexity and depth.

E: Dead or alive, who would you like to take out to dinner?

A: Every meal I have with my wife and daughter is special because of how demanding my work is. They are my first choice for a dinner date, as spending time with them is invaluable to me. 

Exquisite Taste Volume 42

Manhattan Bar at Conrad Singapore Orchard

1 Cuscaden Road

Singapore 249715

T: (+65) 67253377



IG: @manhattan_sg