Lifestyle /

Elevating the Drinking Culture

A bar is often seen just as an additional facility in a hotel establishment. However, we all know that a well-designed bar with a solid concept can boost the popularity of the establishment itself. For over a century, the hotel industry has acknowledged bars that have made the list of the world’s famous, from The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana (circa 1949), the Roof Bar at the Alvear Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina (circa 1930), The Writers Bar at Raffles Jakarta, to the New York Bar at Park Hyatt in Tokyo, Japan (where Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray had a drink in the film Lost in Translation), just to name a few. Indonesia Design recently met with Michael Callahan and Celia Schoonraad, the duo from The Compound Collective, a company that is known for its expertise in F&B concept.


Initiated by Michael Callahan and Celia Schoonraad, The Compound Collective offers full suite services for F&B clients in various stages of operations from concept development, AutoCAD design, branding, to collateral and pre/post-launch market strategy along with full menu development, systems and operation and content creation to training and talent development, The Compound Collective is initiated by a dynamic duo of Michael Callahan and Celia Schoonraad. Prior to starting this company, Michael was a founding member of Proof & Company where he consulted dozens of projects throughout Asia, while Celia was predominantly based in Europe.

Trained in New York and San Francisco, Michael is now widely regarded as one of the leading consultants in Southeast Asia. An expert in F&B concept development and craft cocktail programmes, he is also known as the founding bartender and co-owner of the ’28 HongKong Street’ and resident creative director at ‘Employees Only’, both in Singapore. His credential continues as the founding spirit evangelist for Proof & Company, the former vice president of the United States Bartender’s Guild for Northern California and a lecturer in spirits and mixology at the City College of San Francisco.


Michael first met Celia in 2011 and became friends. Then in 2016, they initiated the concept of The Compound Collective during the industry’s biggest trade seminar, Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, where Celia was hosting a seminar about Sherry and asked Michael to sit in as a panellist. Celia started her hospitality career in New Zealand before moving to Melbourne, Sydney, London and Paris. She then expanded her involvement in leading venues throughout Europe and went on to join the team at ‘Gonzales Byass’ as international spirits manager where she gained hands-on experience with commercial product research and development. She has spent time across five continents and has been involved in the large-scale production and molecular stabilisation.

With Michael’s history of consulting in Asia, there was knowledge and light to be shared about the market and potential pitfalls. Asia was and still is the hottest developing market for elevated beverage programmes as a whole. There are of course cities that have embraced international opportunities. Yet, the regions are now expanding with more exciting customers who are becoming more knowledgeable. And this is great for the industry.

Both Michael and Celia had an opportunity to work on a project together, bringing different strengths that allow them to create a more cohesive programme. Later, they decided to join forces and have thus far been a solid duo. Together as The Compound Collective, they have designed and re-launched programmes, not only in Southeast Asia but also globally; from Maldivian paradise islands, ultra-high volume venues in Singapore, contemporary heritage hybrid programmes in Kyoto, luxury resorts in Laguna Beach, California, and the majestic rolling hills of Douro Valley in Portugal.


The duo also created a company philosophy: ‘to elevate drinking culture throughout the region and beyond’. This statement rings true as much for beverage guests as it does for venue owners or operators. In every property, venue or bar comes with multiple viewpoints; the owners, architects, interior designers, beverage directors, beverage managers, bar staff, service staff and of course the demographic target. The Compound Collective spends a great deal of time listening to what each of these voices is saying and weaves their vision into a cohesive narrative expressed through physical design, branding/collateral, launch strategy and product mix, coupled with a beverage programme which usually has a story of its own that complements or contrasts the aforementioned.

It is also interesting to know that in designing a bar concept, both Michael and Celia put an important focus on the health and wellbeing of the staff. Through its design, the company optimises its workflow and protect its staff from unnecessary fatigue. Wasted and irrelevant movement due to the station and bar design that is less than ideal can lead to huge stress, which in turn can slow down production.

Furthermore, on designing a bar, they also believe in ‘the beauty in functionality’. They create stations that require training to set up and use correctly. However, when implemented and executed correctly the aesthetic beauty will appear, as the bar will quietly hum with activity. The idea of a perfect bar design to The Compound Collective is a flawlessly integrated concept that is created with thought and consideration and executed with precision. Such a bar design can also represent how fluid and seamless the service being delivered. The difference is as comparing a hard/fun night and a hard/exhausted night.


Michael and Celia add that the trend of bar design in this current time is all about proximity planning. It is about minimising movements and wasted space to reduce production time, which in turn leads to shorter queue, faster service, greater guest experience and an increase in overall profitability. Frustratingly to them, many people stop there and still don’t pay attention or fully take into account the wellbeing of their staff. In the reality, the design of a bar is at its best when its functionality and aesthetic appeal are on par.

As a talented technician, Celia possesses incredible knowledge and technical understanding of flavour profiles and production technique with a unique skill in training even the most junior staff in mastering the tools needed to execute these methods flawlessly. Michael’s talent lies in logistics and systems that make the programme hyper-productive: physical design, workflow dynamics and staff development. Together, they work on creating branding collateral and marketing strategy.

Aside from the numerous projects that The Compound Collective is currently involved with, they are about to undergo something of an expansion phase though they will always strive to elevate beverage guest experience … and build their own bars.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone
Leave a comment


Met Duck’s Flair for Brunch

Photo by Ellise & Wicky Semarang has new choice for the savvy foodie looking for a touch of urba...