Spotlight – Bartender


Sambonn Lek

Bartending since: April 7, 1976

Where do you tend bar?
Town & Country Lounge
The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

What is your signature or most popular drink?

Sam I Am (Bestseller at the Mayflower Hotel)
2 oz Ketel One Citron
2 oz Cranberry Juice
¼ oz Amaretto
¼ cup Sweet and Sour Mix
Shake and serve in a chilled Martini glass.

What is your best bartending asset?
Anyone can be a Bartender, but to be a GOOD Bartender is hard because we are the first employee who greets the guests when they walk in. My goal is to provide the best service to make them feel comfortable, and to make sure they will return in the future. To accomplish this makes me feel like I am a “best asset” for the hotel.

Do you do anything out of the ordinary to entertain your guests?
I perform a magic show when my guests are not in the middle of a meeting. Most of my guests return for the show, bringing new guests to be entertained.

Favorite customer story:
One of my customers states that he now sits on the same bar stool where his father sat 21 years before, and now he is one of Sam’s repeat customers. Some of the guests have been coming to the Bar since 1976. Twenty-one years later their children have become my regular guests, but I don’t think that I can work long enough to see their grandchildren be my guests.

Best part of your job:
The best part of my job is to make my guests feel at home when they walk in and to see them return in the future. I feel that the Bartender is the public relations person to bring business to the hotel. I have a lot of guests who can’t get a room at the Mayflower, but they still come to enjoy their cocktail at the Town & Country Bar. They say that they can go to any bar in Washington, DC but they prefer to come to the Mayflower to enjoy cocktails. Every year we send about 3,000 Christmas cards to my repeat guests.

Can you suggest a fitting cocktail for the spring season for our readers?
Apple Martini (This is my original recipe. No other bartender at any other hotel or restaurant prepares an Apple Martini the same as mine.)

2 oz. Citadelle Apple vodka
2 oz. of Pucker apple sour
1 oz. Pineapple juice
¼ oz of Peach Schnapps
Shake and serve in a chilled Martini glass with an apple slice.