Just last month a good friend of mine back from Boston University finally decided to take the plunge with his college sweetheart, so I of course hopped on a flight to drink to the couples everlasting happiness. Now of course the wedding was fantastic, and I wish the happy couple all the best, but for me the highlight of any trip is doing the rounds at the liquor stores. Hong Kong, for all its strengths, still lingers at the tails of the new craft spirit movement, meaning that many of the most exciting products can only be found by people going overseas. It’s become an integral part of my planning for any trip to bookmark any notable liquor stores as well as cocktail bars in each city I visit.
I’m probably the last one to write about the Bacardi Legacy finals in Hong Kong this, but I do have one advantage that none of the lifestyle magazines had. I witnessed everything as the MC for the competition, and so I can tell exactly how it all went down.
Don’t you love weddings? I do. They’re always great fun, especially when you’re not working at one. Amirite lads?
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the lovely isle of Mauritius to attend my friend and mentor’s wedding. Now naturally, being a bartender, I made it my mission to find time to visit one of the many rum distilleries on the island. Having written an article on New Grove, I wanted to visit their distillery as well, but unfortunately with my limited window of opportunity, I was only able to squeeze in one visit. But what a visit it was!
I was fortunate enough to find time in my schedule to attend a tasting of New Grove rum, hosted by Mickael Derusnes, one of two people in charge of international business development for New Grove. As I recall, New Grove had found its way into Hong Kong some time around last year, but at the time it was still being brought in by hand, one bottle of the time. Fortunately, Sino Vantage Asia is now licensed to bring in a 6 member strong line of products, so we should be seeing more back bar space dedicated to New Grove in the future.
(EDIT: It was brought to my attention that New Grove actually landed on Hong Kong soil in the May of 2014, brought in by a one Phillippe Buchle, who is famous in Hong Kong not only for his trademark fedora, but also for bringing in specialty rums from Reunion, Guadeloupe and, of course, Mauritius. Look for him at Rhum de France to get some for yourself.)
On March 10th, the first ever Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition in Hong Kong came to a close. The finals saw the end of nearly 5 months of hard work by 64 entrants, culminating in the presentation of 10 cocktails by their respective creators, of whom, I am proud to say, many of my friends and I were part of. There’s not much I can say about the competition that can’t be said better by someone else, but it was truly an incredible experience. Continue Reading
The Diageo World Class Cocktail Competion regionals work like so; the eight Diageo Reserve products (their top tier, mixologist-approved bottlings) are each assigned a separate theme, which the cocktail must represent. Four products are assigned to the winter round, and four to the summer, the latter round being the one I am hoping to compete in. The DWC rum, Ron Zacapa 23yo, was this year assigned ‘After Dinner Cocktail’. I shied away from the other products in the summer round mostly for strategic reasons. Tanqueray 10 was to be used to make a ‘Vintage Cocktail’, for which I expected every bartender and his/her mother would go for, Ketel One vodka was assigned ‘Martini Experience’, which I didn’t think I would do very well in: I would describe myself as something of a traditionalist, so I would find a very hard time backing a martini that wasn’t 5 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. If I didn’t believe in my drink, whatever it could have been, how would I ever convince the judges?
Last week, I made a post mentioning the Diageo World Class Cocktail Competition. Well, another of the big competitions (in which I’m also competing in) is the Bacardi Legacy, a cocktail competition hosted by the venerable Bacardi family. Beginning in 2007, 2014 is the first year the competition will include contenders from the Hong Kong bar scene. 64 applicants sent in their recipes in the Fall of last year, and they were whittled down to 20, and then 10 regional finalists. I’m very happy and proud to say that among the top 10 finalists are many of my friends (and me).
This was my very first competition, and I wanted to get things off to a good start. I wanted to think about every single aspect of my drink, and put meaning behind each individual ingredient. What follows is a look into my thought process in creating my Bacardi Legacy drink, The Lost Generation. Continue Reading