After three days of battle, with three challenges fought among five regional teams – Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and Philippines – the winning team of the inaugural Asia Bar Battle emerged onstage at 7:00pm on 19 March at the Festival Village of the Singapore Cocktail Festival (#SGCF2017). Team Singapore “Merlion Warriors” was crowned the champion of the intense competition. At the same time, Leo’s Flip by Nutmeg and Clove took the honour of Singapore’s Next Top Cocktail after three rounds of competition, which began on 15 January 2017.
Asia Bar Battle
The intense three-day competition took place at the Festival Village on 99 Beach Road, throughout 16, 17 and 19 March 2017. It saw 5 teams across Asia showcase their skills in challenges that included a team speed relay to prepare four classic cocktails in the “Need for Speed”. Teams displayed their creativity in a “Mystery Box” challenge as well as their skill and poise in the flare bartending category, “Flare Off”.
The winning Team Singapore “Merlion Warriors” impressed with their skills and sportsmanship. Diageo Reserve World Class Singapore Bartender of the Year 2016 Boo Jing Heng of Tess Bar & Kitchen; Kino Soh, who is behind the newly opened Highball; award-winning Naz Arjuna of Bitters & Love as well as flare bartender champion, Kenny Hong of Fabbri 1905, all worked in perfect harmony to emerge the final champions.
Team Japan “Dang Gang” and Team Thailand “Phad Thai” were awarded first and second runner-up, respectively. “Dang Gang” demonstrated elegance combined with a wacky sense of style, with a team comprising of Tokyo’s Toru Ariyoshi from Gossip and Akira Abe from Andaz, together with Singapore’s Tsuyoshi Kimura from Le Binchotan, and Ai Igarashi from D2TLLRY.
Team Thailand, Phad Thai, filled the room with their electric energy and creative cocktails to match. Team members included Jamie Rhind from The Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok and “ChaCha” Suwincha Singsuwan of Rabbit Hole (Bangkok). The other two members, “Palm” Supawit Muttarattana of Vesper and Il Fumo (Bangkok) and Neung Ronnaporn of Backstage Bar and Majestic Bar Consultancy (Bangkok) injected some humour to the event arriving in half-buttoned cheongsam dresses and blonde wigs.
Singapore’s Next Top Cocktail
The winner of Singapore’s Next Top Cocktail, Leo’s Flip by Nutmeg & Clove, draws inspiration from a favourite snack truly representative of Singapore – the pineapple tart that is loved and enjoyed by the Chinese, Malays and Indians during cultural festivities. A rum based drink, Leo’s Flip is a delicious concoction of Ron Zacapa 23, Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur, Amaretto, egg yolk, homemade spiced pineapple puree and fresh pineapple juice.
Throughout the four days of the Festival Village (16 to 19 March) at the Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017, the Singapore’s Next Top Cocktail Room showcased the final four cocktail entries with a pop-up bar by each contender – the Kopi Ol’ Fashioned by Crackerjack, Shiok Collins by Mitzo Restaurant & Bar, Lion City Sour by 28 HongKong Street and Leo’s Flip by Nutmeg & Clove. Festival goers got to cast their votes for the cocktail that they felt best represented modern Singapore during this final round by uploading photos of their purchase on social media with the relevant hashtags.
The first round of judging ended on 15 January 2017, with close to 20 submissions received online. Judges scored all entries based on each cocktail name (representation of theme), story (inspiration and origin), presentation (creativity and attractiveness), originality (recipe design and overall creativity), and potential (replicability at an international level).
In round two, the 10 shortlisted bars from round one each threw a one-night-only “Promotion Party” at their respective venues from the 15 to 17 February 2017 to launch their specially created cocktails. Judges visited each of these parties and scored the entries based on taste (balance and texture), crowd experience (thematic design across menu and venue) and consumer sentiments (interviews with three consumers).
The final four cocktail entries were invited to showcase their concoctions at the Festival Village and Leo’s Flip was crowned the well-deserved winner after the scores from all three rounds of judging were compiled. The winning teams of Singapore’s Next Top Cocktail and Asia Bar Battle each took home S$5,000 worth of prizes, sponsored by Bar Society, Proof & Company, F45, The Gentleman Society and Singapore Cocktail Festival.