Evonne and I headed over to The Bee in Publika on 9 June 2015 for the HAIG CLUB™ Pop Up Bar Challenge which also doubled as the finals of the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS™ Malaysia 2015 – the industry’s most prestigious and respected mixology competition. The event was the last of a three-series competition that began at Zeta Bar, KL Hilton and Hyde at 53m in April and May 2015 respectively. This also marks the beginning of the journey to the Regional Finals in Bangkok and Global Finals in Cape Town, South Africa.
As I totally changed my perception towards cocktails at the first event at Zeta Bar, I was quite excited to see what the finalists had in store for us and I was left quite impressed with the cocktails as well as the showmanship that accompanied them. Glad to see that Diageo is raising the level of quality and service in the industry.
As part of the six month initiative, Diageo Reserve Malaysia hosted a series of exclusive bartender showcases and cocktail evenings in an intimate setting to demonstrate the fine art of cocktail making and live demonstrations. At each competition, guests were treated to an array of cocktails, concocted with precision and with a diverse profile of ingredients by various guest bartenders of the evening.
The Global Finals will see more than 50 of the best bartenders in the world showcase innovative cocktails and compete in a series of unique and unparalleled challenges to be named WORLD CLASS™ Global Bartender of the Year 2015.
The three-hour challenge held at The Bee, Publika saw twelve bartenders go head to head as they created one iconic cocktail featuring HAIG CLUB™ that would propel them into the regional finals. Added to the pressure of competition, each bartender also had to manage their specially constructed “pop up bar”, interact with guests while concocting their signature cocktails.
The judging panel was made up of one resident judge, Mr Lam Chi Mun, Director of Diageo Bar Academy Asia Pacific, Diageo Asia Pacific and two special guest judges, Mr Peter Chua, from world-ranked cocktail bar, Singapore’s 28 HongKong Street and Mr Supawit Muttarattana, Brand Ambassador for Diageo Reserve, Thailand, and trainer for Diageo Bar Academy Thailand.
The judges scored each bartender on aroma, taste, flavour and presentation. The four finalists were selected based on an accumulative tally of scores for their performance throughout the three-series competition that took place from April till June 2015.
“We are delighted with the talent at the competition this year. Their tenacity and dedication to the craft of bartending is astounding” said Mr Lam Chi Mun, Director of Diageo Bar Academy Asia Pacific, Diageo Asia Pacific. “Every bartender is a finalist in his own right. It was such a tough decision for the panel but we are positive that our four finalists will make Malaysia very proud” he added.
Us guests also had the chance to vote for our favourite cocktail to receive the HAIG CLUB™ Choice award by placing our votes into special cases at each finalists’ bar. In the end, the HAIG CLUB™ Choice award was awarded to Joel John Timmis from The View for his cocktail “Classy Haig” which was made with HAIG CLUB™, Grape Juice, Campari, Passionfruit Syrup and Rose Water garnished with a Whisky Infused Grape.
“The Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS™ programme searches across Malaysia for its most talented bartenders, and hidden gems with great potential in a bid to nurture their talents at a global standard. This allows them the unique opportunity to celebrate their skills and compete on a wider platform” said Mr Kenny Fernandez, Assistant Brand Manager, Diageo Reserve brands.
Guest bartenders, Malaysian Champion for Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS™ 2014, Leow YinYing and award winning bartender Angel Ng Ji, kept us well watered throughout the night with some lovely craft cocktails.
The four finalists to represent Malaysia in Bangkok at the Southeast Asia Finals in August 2015 are:
Shawn Chong of Omakase+Appreciate with “Siamese Link”, a spicy-savoury cocktail made with HAIG CLUB™, Siamese Paprika Syrup and Lime Juice garnished with Pandan Jelly.
M. Hanafi of Prego, The Westin with “Brooklyn”, made with HAIG CLUB™, Wasabi Powder, Caramelised Longan syrup topped with Dry Ginger garnished with a Longan.
Osmund Illah of Hubba Hubba with “Fame Bird”, a mix of HAIG CLUB™, Campari, Salted Caramel syrup, Lime Juice and Fresh Pineapple juice garnished with Orange and Lemon Zest.
Insan Sharily of Tate, The Intermark with “Haig Club Tango”, an intricate marriage of HAIG CLUB™, Solerno, Borlesque Bitter, Grapefruit Juice, Grapefruit peel infused Sugar syrup, Egg white and Peychaud Bitters garnished with a Cherry and Grapefruit twist.
For videos of the current world’s best bartenders showing you how to make WORLD CLASS™ cocktails at home, visit http://www.youtube.com/worldclass
For inspiration on more recipes, visit http://www.thebar.com
To learn more about what, where and how to drink, visit http://www.definitivedrinkingguide.com
Follow the competition on Facebook at the ‘Global WORLD CLASS™ Finals’ page www.facebook.com/WorldClass