Telum Talks To... Holly Graham, Managing Editor, DRiNK Magazine Asia
You have been working with various media with a focus on food and drinks. Why are you so passionate about this sector? Tell us about your journey.
I am originally from London and moved to Thailand in 2011 as an English teacher. I have always been passionate about Food & Beverage but moving to Asia really opened my eyes to the culinary world. After a year in Thailand, I moved to Seoul for two years and then Hong Kong in 2014 – that's where my passion really amped-up. The Food & Beverage scene here is world class and I began freelancing for many publications, eventually scoring the role as the Food Writer for WOM Guide, where I published two dining guide books. After moving to Time Out Hong Kong as Food and Drink Editor, the food side burned me out after a while, so I decided to swan dive into my love for bars, bartenders, cocktails and spirits by joining DRiNK Magazine Asia. DRiNK had always been a dream job for me – I had freelanced for them in the past and met the founder two years prior and I knew it was where I needed to be.
The bar industry is like a huge family. Everyone is so caring and we all want each other to succeed – there’s no backstabbing or animosity, especially in Asia. I love that I can walk into almost any cocktail bar in the world and if I don’t have a friend there, I can easily make one. It really is supportive and that’s what makes me so passionate about it. It’s also encouraged me to learn bartending and the education on technique, spirits, recipes and flavours is never-ending. There’s always something to learn.
Tell us more about DRiNK?
DRiNK started out almost 10 years ago in China in print and then WeChat. It was the only trade publication covering China's budding bar scene and eventually expanded to cover the rest of Asia in 2016. We're Asia's leading bar industry platform covering 16 countries and our audience is primarily people in the bar industry. Of course, we have lots of consumer readers that are excited about the bar industry reading too. DRiNK ceased printing a few years ago – not necessarily because print was “dying” as people love to say – but because bartenders found it easier to read on their phone during a break or quiet shift.
What's your role at DRiNK?
I am the Managing Editor so I create, direct and oversee all editorial on the Asia website and social media. As I like to say, we get real nerdy with our content, getting in depth about booze, bars and the people in our industry. We're not here to do roundups of "Best Cocktails For Valentine's Day" – we're here to talk about the importance of mould variates in Japanese spirits or get in-depth with bars and bartenders around Asia. I always say that our stories should teach the reader something new or inspire them.
How should PRs pitch you?
We are a trade publication, so I would love PRs to pitch me on great new bars or talent that aren't being talked about in consumer publications. We cover Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, India, Indonesia, Philippines and China – so anything coming up in those regions is great! Just have a little skim of our content before you pitch and make sure your pitch is not consumer focused.
What story ideas/ press materials/ theme are you looking for currently?
Wellness and mindfulness in the bar industry are hot topics at the moment. Many bartenders – especially in Hong Kong – work long hours and find it hard to take time for their physical and mental health. I'd love to get our industry inspired to take better care of themselves. I also love to write about disruptors – people or bars that are really changing up the industry and women who are leading the charge in a currently male dominated industry.
Any new plans for DRiNK in 2020?
We recently decided to expand our coverage to India so definitely more of that in 2020! I am also looking forward to seeing new bar scenes like Myanmar and Cambodia develop, so hopefully we'll be putting out more stories on the lesser known cocktail scenes.