“Suit Geek” is PRINCIPLE M’s original feature column where each month we reach out to one of our loyal customers & friends and ask him to share stories about his clothing, life, and his unique point of view on gentlemen’s style.
For our 12th interview, we invited Bar Roost’s Mr. Gao Peng. Mr. Gao is not only our client, we also did some collabrations with him, including a cocktail tasting event in the winter of 2019. His bar is a regular spot for us, just 2 minutes away from the shop. Sometimes we go there after work, chat a little bit, or just kill some time, doing nothing in particular.
This interview is a bit different from the previous ones, instead of being a Q&A, it’s more like an early-evening conversation among several gentlemen, and some interesting things randomly happened that night in between. We talk about suits, drinks, and more about drinks. So, you might want to pour a glass for yourself while reading today’s post.
WHY WEARING SUITS TO WORK?
Justin: why do you wear suits at your bar? Is it because you like it, or is it just for work?
Mr. Gao: for work, mostly, but I also like and enjoy wearing suits. If I’m standing over here working at the bar without a suit, I won’t feel the same, probably can’t even make cocktails. It’s more about the formality and the presentation at work, and in suits, suits will be able to achieve that.
Jamen: I do think this [bartending] is the kind of job that requires a sense of formality, almost like a performing art.
Mr. Gao: Wearing suits for me means I’m in a work mode. It elevates your style, also fits the occasion. But when I’m not at work, I hardly wear suits. I want to separate my private life with my job, otherwise, it would make me feel a little bit exhausted like I’m still at work.
Justin: why do you choose to get tailor-made suits?
Mr. Gao: as a bartender, I’m always in action: bend over to reach stuff, get ice in the freezer, or shake a cocktail, etc. Wearing this suit gives me enough mobility to do my job, for example, the design of the armhole gives enough allowance for me to lift my arm, and that’s very important. I want to dress nicely, but comfortability and functionality always come first.
Jamen: comfortability comes first, then dress nicely. But obviously, people can’t tell if you’re comfortable enough or not, only you can be the judge of that.
Mr. Gao: I agree. The first day I wore this suit, I texted Jamen and told him how comfortable I felt in it. And I was in a pleasant mood all day!
SUITS, DRINKS, AND TO DRINK MORE
At PM, all of us have known Mr. Gao for a while now. But what we didn’t know is Mr. Gao has an account on Bilibili, and he has tons of followers (60k). He uses his account to share videos of him making classic cocktails.
Justin: what is your favourite cocktail?
Mr. Gao: Dry Martini.
Jamen: Then I’ll have a dry martini.
Mr. Gao: Martini is a very classic, famous drink, also one of the drinks I knew in the beginning, so I learned to do this one first. Then after a while, I fell in love with it.
Mr. Gao is stirring the Martini, which intrigues Justin.
Justin: you know how James Bond always says, “Shaken, not stirred.”
Mr. Gao: I guess he can’t drink much.
Mr. Gao: stirring and shaking is fundamentally different. If you shake it, you’re actually breaking it up, diluting the drink in a hard way, you will lose some flavour of the liquor in the process. Cocktails that involve juice, or syrup, like Side Car, One Lady, normally should be done by shaking, because you want to mix up all the ingredient quickly. However, drinks like Martini, the liquor it uses is pretty similar, so you can just blend it together by stirring.
Mr. Gao: Usually, you finish it in 3 sips, but you’re welcome to drink it up all at once! Haha.
Justin didn’t drink it up all at once, but he ordered another one. Then he asked Mr. Gao when he should eat the olive.
Mr. Gao: The olive? Doesn’t matter. Have it whenever you feel like.
Jamen: I think what bartenders wear matters. For me, no matter if I’m going to a bar or a restaurant, if I see a bartender or a service person dress nicely, I will think it makes sense that this place is more expensive. I come here to spend my money, not just for the food and the wine; it is for a whole experience.
Justin: actually it reminds me of the bar Gilli’s in Firenze we go to during Pitti Uomo. It was the place that everybody ends up at during Pitti Uomo at the end of the night. It is nicely furnished, a wooden-like bar. In the daytime it serves coffee and beer, in the night-time it switches to a bar. There is a big outdoor terrace and it’s set at Piazza della Republica. The thing that strikes me most is the servers; they are all middle-aged gentlemen, and they dress miraculously good. They always wear a white shirt, and a tie or bow tie. You just go there and you see those guys working in sync, that’s really cool, and definitely makes you want to revisit soon.
Mr. Gao: yes, by dressing nicely and elegantly, I also want to show respect to my customers.
Justin:I think we dress ourselves not only for our own sake, it is also for the people around you, for the ones who you will meet. I spend time on clothes in the morning, go to work in a nice outfit, not just for me and my customers, also for the people who work with me and the people I meet in the building. Then again, it’s also a mutual respect.
The phone rings, Mr. Gao goes to pick up the phone. He later explains to us, a customer was calling and asking for spring festival’s opening hours, said he wanted to make an appointment, and asked if there is a dress code.
Mr. Gao seemed very surprised. He said nowadays not a lot of people would call to make an appointment, let alone asking about dress code, “sounded like a polite guy.”
Jamen: those who show up, dress clean and elegantly at the shop, they will also leave me a good impression, and I also want to serve them well.
Mr. Gao: yes, I agree. It is very straightforward, and very hard to ignore.
Jamen: then again, it’s not something you can simply ask someone to do; you can only behave yourself, dress well, and then gradually influence the people around you.
Jamen then orders another drink, and we all have another round.
Mr. Gao says, he is actually a pretty boring person. He doesn’t really have any hobbies, just fond of drinking, He likes Martini, and Baiju.
When being asked about his cooking skills, his assistant answers in advance, “he cooks rice and knows how to make soup.”
When being asked if he likes any movies, he kind of jokes about it, “Godfather. You know, when you were young, you went online and search, ‘what movies a mature man should watch’, then you got ‘Godfather’, that was how I watched it. Haha.”
So we went back talking about clothes. Mr. Gao explains to us why he chose this outfit today.
Mr. Gao: I wore this today because I didn’t wear this one yesterday, haha. Professor Zhu (Jamen) says, you should let your clothes take some rest.
Mr. Gao: however, Professor Zhu also says, the most important thing is, be happy. So I dress whatever I feel like! □ PRINCIPLE M
Bar Roost is located on the ground floor of Genasi Building, it is on the side facing Jin Shang. It’s not very easy to find, kind of like a speak-easy bar, just look for the sign “Bar Roost” on the door. Also, making an appointment in advance is recommended.
Interviewer: Justin Writer: Carrie Photographer: Adora Produced by PRINCIPLE M