SUSTAINABILITY AT THE HEART OF DIPLOMÁTICO RUM


ASIA PACIFIC, 22 NOVEMBER – The sustainability campaign is starting to take hold of the craft cocktail industry as one of the main subjects within this new contemporary culture. As rum is one of the most scrutinised spirits, the industry is evolving into one which is implementing and practising sustainable operations. Within the last years, Diplomático Rum started on a mission to emerge as leaders beyond the bar by tackling key sustainability issues, people, processes, and the environment.

In fact, the Venezuelan brand recently designed the “Distilled Consciously” program, which shows their commitment to prioritize doing business more responsibly, getting people involved in their projects, and making positive changes for the next generation of passionate rum-makers.

"Distilled Consciously" Sustainability Platform

The process of manufacturing rum can be detrimental to the environment in various ways, from the careless disposal of sugarcane vinasse to the absence of proper recycling. However, what unites the industry is a growing focus on sustainability, and today, distillers are slowly recognising the significance of the relationship between rum and the environment.

A field that has been gaining traction in the industry is distillery’s waste processing research, and Diplomático Rum started zeroing in on slashing energy consumption, conserving precious water resources, and upcycling by-products. Leveraging an internal recycling system that recycles 100% of solid and liquid waste – including vinasse – the process transforms this liquid waste into organic fertilizer that feeds the cultivation of over 1,000 hectares of sugarcane cultivated by 26 family-owned farms in their vicinity. In addition to reducing fuel costs by 48% with their cogeneration technology and water usage by 50% thanks to energy-saving processes, Diplomático Rum also recycles nearly 270 tons of solid garbage per year through their recycling centre.

“Our main focus is on minimizing the environmental impact of each and every one of our operations and taking it one step further by committing to our surroundings beyond the distillery.” explains Mariela Ballesteros, Head of Corporate Communications at DUSA “With over 16,000 trees planted since 1992 through an active reforestation program, the Diplomático Rum brand actively contributes to increasing biodiversity and leaving a green footprint.”

Susana Curbelo, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility

Diplomático Rum has received multiple international awards and recognitions that show it is remaining faithful to its family values: responsibility, integrity, and preservation of the environment. And advocacy has always been an integral component of the elaboration of Diplomático Rum.

This value is reflected in their movement of inspiring customers and bar folks alike to participate in activities and raise environmental consciousness. Through collaborations with NGOs and other partners through monthly local beach cleanups and investing in local communities projects, it is this continuous dedication that makes them “The Heart of Rum”.

“As a family business, we consider our people to be our best asset. Our commitment is to direct all our social investment to improve the life quality of our workers as well as of the local community with special focus on health care.”

Social initiatives were also launched worldwide to fight against food waste with its partners, distributors, and consumers’ support. For example, the pilot program “USA Project Leftover,” where food is directed to those in need instead of wasting it. The goal is to get at least 39,000 pounds of food from at least 100 restaurants to give to people in need. Furthermore, Diplomático Rum was a crucial part of “Canada Zero Waste” Working with Second Harvest, the country’s largest food rescue organization, on their latest campaign, “Donate the Difference”.

“Our sustainability program is the result of the engagement and voluntary commitment of all our employees, partners and distributors who share the Diplomátic Rum values and beyond all genuinely understand the importance of protecting our natural and Human Resources,” José Rafael Ballesteros, CEO of Diplomático Rum shares.

Ever evolving, producers are starting to answer the question: How does one sustainably make high-quality Rum? While the act of drinking cocktails will never reconcile itself completely with the environment, brands such as Diplomático Rum are seeking better decisions and innovations to limit the global impact.


ABOUT DIPLOMÁTICO RUM

Diplomático Rum is passionately crafted by Maestros Roneros, using their expertise in combining modern and traditional distillation methods to produce exceptional rums for demanding palates. Every drop is infused with a rich and treasured heritage that comes from the heart and reaches out to yours. In 2018, Diplomático was awarded Wine Enthusiast’s prestigious “Spirit Brand of the Year,” the first-ever rum to win in this category. Having produced top-quality spirits since 1959, Diplomático’s distillery combines traditional methods with modern technology to produce the finest of rums.

For more information, please visit Ron Diplomático.


FROM BEHIND THE BAR: THE RISE OF MEZCAL


ASIA PACIFIC, 21 OCTOBER – Mezcal is one of the world’s most artisanal products, with wide variations in style, and a story behind every bottle. The smokier sibling of the also agave-based tequila, mezcal has been captivating audiences around the world. Created by cooking agave inside earth pits over charcoal and wood before distilling in clay pots, the result is a distinctive smokiness and deep, earthy notes that discerning drinkers and bar folks have come to love.

Don Joel & Alipus San Juan

After being de-marketed in for its supposed hallucinogenic elements, Mezcal was given a second chance in 1994 when local regulations and official certifications were made to govern its production. The spirit developed from being known as a Mexican liquor with a worm in the bottle in the 2000s, to a highly revered bona fide contender not just among agave spirits, but spirits at large. — this paragraph needs rewriting, it probably only needs to be a sentence, “as recently as the 2000s, mezcal was known as the Mexican spirit with the worm in it,” or along those lines.

But as the world discovered quality tequila, they also took a fresh look at mezcal. This newfound popularity means that mezcal producers are reaching more people than ever before.

“With the rise of the popularity of tequila, people are looking to explore the agave category,” explains Luke Sanderson, Advocacy Director of True Believers, “Locally, accessibility was difficult for many years, we just couldn’t get our hands on it but now we have one of the best agave bars in the world here in Australia, Cantina OK!”

Robin Leung, Bar Manager of COA Shanghai

“From distributors and suppliers to bars, everyone is importing and having more stocks of agave spirits. Every bar will stock at least one kind of agave spirit; some bars will stock more than two kinds of mezcal. All our local bartenders have been learning more knowledge of mezcal and tequila.

The whole beverage industry has been promoting agave spirits, not only in mainland China but also on a global scale. It would be a new trend in the cocktail scene for sure!”

Mezcal is also coming into its own as a cocktail ingredient, explains Sanderson. He further elaborates that Mezcal has a taste profile traditionally reserved for the whisky category and Islay with its bold smokiness. But today, it is a true exploration of these notes in our cocktails in a light and fresh way.

Leung affirms the depth that mezcal brings to cocktails. “Making a cocktail with mezcal gives the cocktail more layers, thanks to its bold smokiness of it. Every classic cocktail I have made with mezcal so far is all very well balanced on the palate and delicious.”

Not only does this extraordinary spirit create opportunities for bartenders to dabble in cocktails with the discovery of flavours, but it’s also a chance for customers to experience something a little different. 

Mezcal Margarita

If you’re new to the spirit, there are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind.

Mezcal is like wine in that it is expressive place and terroir-driven. Agave is an agricultural product, like wine, with its own harvesting period — typically it takes seven to eight years for an agave to mature. The most commonly used agave species for mezcal is espadin, with tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño and many more.

Some mezcals are more vegetal, some are floral, and some are sweet and have notes of honey. Others are nutty, or earthy, or taste strongly of minerals. Sanderson recommends trying everything and create a reference point that will assist in exploring the other regions flavours. While if you are looking for a rich, fruit-forward flavour, Robin would highly recommend tobalá mezcal.

Transporting Maguey

But as mezcal grows in popularity, so does the demand on production, and — as Sanderson anticipates — there will be pressure to use automated production techniques using large-scale production and high-end equipment like fibre optic refractometer, fractionator, diffuser and more to meet demands.

This popularity is something Leung is cautious of. “For the sustainability and future of distilling mezcal, I’m hoping that practices and regulations are put in place to ensure the continuation of agave cultivation to prevent the overconsumption of agave.”

This is why it’s important to choose sustainable mezcal brands. These environmentally and socially conscious businesses help to ensure the resilience of mezcal, both as a spirit category and as a cultural story. It’s possible for mezcal to stay true to its roots, after all, mezcal’s small-batch independence and quality are exactly what consumers are looking for.



FROM BEHIND THE BAR: WORD FROM WIDGE


ASIA PACIFIC, 13 OCTOBER – Not many people in our industry can say they have their face on a bottle of gin, yet the award-winning Australian bartender Jason ‘Widge’ Williams can. Having been around gin nearly his entire life, we tap into our Head of Advocacy’s love affair with all things gin and how his face landed on the packaging of one of Asia’s favourite craft gins.

A young 13-year-old Williams picked up the nickname ‘Widge’ when he first dipped his toes into the hospitality industry, washing dishes at a local pizza shop. The nickname stuck with him as he progressed through the bar industry, riding the wave of the early 2000s cocktail scene, falling in love with the creativity, history and social dynamism that great drinks could bring.

“There is something absolutely magical and rewarding when combining ingredients, and flavours and introducing guests to new drinking experiences,” Williams says.

Shaking and stirring his way into the world of extraordinary spirits, Williams won the Beefeater 24 Global Bartender Competition, which took him around the globe, exploring gin distilleries – and that was when he properly fell in love with the category.

“I’ve spent a decade visiting distilleries and I’ll never not miss the heady, spicy smell that just hits your nose once you’ve opened the distillery doors. It is hard to not love a genuinely handcrafted product. From the selection of natural ingredients, sourcing the best botanicals, and weighing by hand – it is extremely hard to totally automate or digitalise the gin business. It’s a hand-touched process, and you don’t get it in many other mainstream other spirits categories.”

To fall for gin is to embark upon a lengthy journey. Before collaboration was a norm in the spirits industry, Williams went on to open a gin speciality bar with 80 gins in Sydney, The Rook and was the first to collaborate with Four Pillars, one of the biggest Australian gin brands, in co-creating the Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin.

By now known as the ‘gin guy’, Williams further enhanced his reputation when he arrived in Singapore and was part of the team to launch the opulent ATLAS Bar with Proof & Company. Heavily focused on the art deco period, the bar celebrates gin with a carefully curated collection of over 1,300 gins including an Archie Rose Distilling Co. collaboration and a permanent St George’s Distillers ATLAS Orange Gin. From this point, Williams became a bonafide gin aficionado; running the Juniper Society and became the first person from Singapore to be inducted into the London Gin Guild. Not surprisingly, the title Master of Gin at ATLAS was bestowed to Williams.

So how did Widges Gin come about?

“Proof & Company was working on True Believers range of brands. The whole ethos of True Believers is to bring world-class spirits to the mainstream by promoting independent drinking, working with world-class distillers and being utterly transparent so that we can bring to drinkers a spirit valuable to the modern-day bartender at a competitive price point.

Spencer Fornhart, one of our founders, recognised my experience and reputation for gin education and advancement and tapped me to work on the developing of our gin to grace the bars of Asia Pacific. I was recruited into this new exciting product launch.”

“The first thing I thought of was, “What does the bartender actually need, especially when there are already a plethora of amazing gins?” This gin has to really work in a G&T and a dry gin martini.”

The botanical perspective was considered next. For this, he gravitated towards a classic backbone of juniper and dry herbs, but they loved the idea of elevated citrus. Williams loves that citrus element of gin in sour-family cocktails such as the White Lady and Aviation – both done with an orange liqueur. “Orange is also a very dominant character in a negroni and in a stirred cocktail like a Hanky Panky and has a lot of uses: tea, cleaners, repellent, cosmetics, cooking,” says Williams. “It’s like vanilla in the cocktail world. I then considered the things I love that will bring out the orange and juniper – cardamom”.

They took this brief to Langley in the UK and perfected the recipe — it was now a proper gin, with a big whack of orange and the firm suggestion of cardamom. Now, their gin just needed a brand.

“When Spencer unveiled the branding and mock-up – I swear, I was ambushed,” Williams says. “My first thought was that he was joking. I expected a couple of options and directions, but how surreal it was when I saw a caricature of my face and ‘Widges Gin’ on the label.

“Then again, knowing it was Spencer, it’s pretty set in stone,” laughs Williams.

Forhart explains that the nickname ‘Widge’ is unique and could be interpreted as old-world English, eccentric in kind of a way, fitting into the trend of quirky names from other gin brands. Today, the word ‘Widges’ is more than just a nickname.

As Williams collaborates with different gin brands in Proof Creative to create speciality gin bars and builds the line extension for True Believers, what’s left is his most ambitious gin idea to date: to create a gin with ingredients from the Antarctic.

“I personally adore gins that represent their places of origin. Like how Terai uses local spices sourced from Asia’s largest spice market to Vietnamese gins with ingredients foraged by native tribes in the countries’ jungle. The spiritual respect for spices and botanicals representing where they (the gins) come from is highly admirable. The layers from these gins will be sure to create the most iconic gin cocktails. I haven’t heard of a gin coming from the Antarctic and maybe there is something growing there that we can use in a gin!”


ABOUT WIDGES GIN

Widges London Dry Gin is a genuine London Dry Gin distilled by some of the world’s most experienced gin distillers at Langley Gin Distillery in England. Jason ‘Widge’ Williams developed this flavour profile with the craft bartender and the world’s greatest gin drinks in mind. The harmony of piney juniper, stewed coriander seed, cardamom and bright orange makes Widges Gin an elevated London Dry Gin beloved by bar folks.

For more information, please visit True Believers.


FROM BEHIND THE BAR: THE NEGRONI, A CLASSICALLY MODERN COCKTAIL


ASIA PACIFIC, 13 SEPTEMBER – The lure of a Negroni is its completeness, providing an explosion of flavours while maintaining balance, along with its signature bright red hue. Not just a fantastic way to start a meal, it also works as a nightcap or on its own, and modern variations create myriad Negroni-appropriate occasions. It is at once herbaceous, sweet, strong, and ― perhaps most notably ― bitter. Its straightforward recipe of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and red bitter belies the complexity of each individual ingredient and its ability to be modernised and customised. In fact, it is among the most interpreted cocktails of our time.

Single Origin Negroni

Teresa Negroni with Widges Gin

Since the cocktail’s inception in 1919, Negronis have easily made their way into the canon of classic cocktails, enjoyed worldwide. Ryan McLeod, Co-Founder of Peddlers, recognizes the transportive power of the cocktail, as a “refreshing alcohol-forward beverage with flavours that remind you of Italy.”

Itself a variation, the Negroni is said to have come about in Florence as a riff of the Americano (which was a lengthened variation of yet another cocktail, the Milano-Torino, equal parts bitter and sweet vermouth). In search of a stronger sip than the Americano provided, the soda water was swapped out for a matching equal part of gin and a new classic was born. But as with most cocktail origin stories, there may be some fuzziness to the facts.

“Historically it’s not been proved that this drink was born on equal parts. Indeed, it’s much likely that the vermouth or/and the bitter parts were higher than the gin part. That being said, it’s always interesting to try new variations, and nobody needs to always follow a certain rule: creativity is limitless.” Grazia Di Franco, Mancino Vermouth Brand Ambassador explains.

Peddlers Sichuan Negroni

With the availability of new spirits, the global ability to share information in an instant, and the rise of cocktail culture, the bar and spirits worlds are always evolving, changing, and creating new spin-offs to classic cocktails. In particular, the gin and Amari categories have exploded in the past several years, with brands from craft to corporate all creating their specific signatures, bending and expanding the previously established limits of each category.

For those seeking to create their own signature Negroni; classic or a spin-off, consider the base first – be it traditional gin or a variation with an aged spirit, agave, or something else entirely. From there, the bitter should complement; perhaps it’s from the same region as the base or employs similar botanicals or production methods. One of the most prevalent adjustments seen includes amping up the gin portion and reducing the bitter pour, to cut some sweetness and add a bigger botanical punch. Another option, using aged spirits as the base, is so common that the bourbon version of a Negroni has its own name, a Boulevardier. Trading the vermouth and bitter for modern versions is a great way to add local or custom flair to a signature Negroni.

Our industry experts have a few more suggestions to get started:

Grazia Di Franco

Being a vermouth brand, we always try new Negroni variations all over the world. A White Negroni with Rinomato Americano works amazingly, as does a Claypot Negroni with a touch of amaro: we personally developed a recipe based on a melange of Mancino Vermouth, Amaro Lucano Anniversario, gin and Rinomato Aperitivo Scuro.

Luke Sanderson

An agave-based White Negroni is a great variation; the green and grassy notes from the agave with Suze and Lillet or Cocchi Americano… DELISH! I’m also a big fan of a cocktail called a Lucien Gaudin, which falls somewhere between a Negroni and a Gin Martini. Gin-forward with a splash of dry vermouth, dry Curaçao, and Italian Bitter.

Ryan McLeod

Burnt orange peel Negroni with Peddlers Shanghai Craft Gin is a favourite.

Oh, and any time a touch of coffee is incorporated into a classic Negroni I have enjoyed. I would recommend you give it a try because it’s delicious!

Mancino Vermouth Negroni

The beauty of the Negroni lies in its ability to be executed by anyone. Infinitely customisable, adaptations can come about in a number of ways: the portions adjusted, the base spirit swapped, the vermouth and bitter components updated. At a certain point, cocktails leave the world of being a version of a Negroni to what can best be described as “Negroni-inspired”. While the ability to try new variations and spin-offs is vast, for many people it becomes apparent that a true classic often lay within the 1:1:1 equal parts ratio.

Luke Sanderson from True Believers mentioned “Many view a Negroni as almost a cocktail category unto itself, like the Martini and its many variations. But a Negroni will always be the triple threat of gin, vermouth and bitter.”

Di Franco concurs; “You can play with the ratio, swap the gin with a rum, adding a touch of liqueur or other ingredients, but when the recipe goes too far from the original, you’re just creating a new drink that has nothing to do with a Negroni. And garnish-wise, citrus is always preferred.”


ABOUT MANCINO VERMOUTH

Mancino Vermouth was born in 2011 in a small family-run distillery in Asti, Piedmont. The distillery, established over 60 years ago in 1957, inspired Giancarlo Mancino, owner of the brand, to compose his own vermouth using only the finest hand-picked spices and botanicals. From the moment you pick up the bottle, its classic look and feel, together with the bittersweet concoctions awaiting inside, impress upon you the timeless character that make Mancino Vermouth an integral part of the world’s finest cocktail bars.

For more information, please visit Mancino Vermouth.

ABOUT PEDDLERS GIN COMPANY

Peddlers is a Shanghai gin company started in 2017 with a vision of challenging perceptions of what it means to be ‘Made in China’. Using uniquely Chinese ingredients like Sichuan Pepper and Buddha’s Hand, Peddlers Gin tells a story of diverse regions of China. With exports of their premium gin to over ten countries throughout the Asia Pacific, and triple-digit sales growth, Peddlers is proudly representing Shanghai to the world.

For more information, please visit Peddlers Gin Company.

ABOUT TRUE BELIEVERS SPIRITS

True Believers was conceived by Proof & Company to offer a range of craft spirits that bridges the gap between economical pouring brands, which often fall short in meeting modern consumer preferences for craft credibility, and super-premium craft spirits, which are generally priced out of reach for house pouring programs. Each of the True Believers brands was developed individually to serve as a versatile archetype of its category, suitable for cocktails and sipping alike. The spirits themselves are produced with authentic craft values by highly-regarded distillers. 

For more information, please visit True Believers.



THE POPULARITY OF CANNED COCKTAILS WITH MATT SANGER, CURATIF


AUSTRALIA, 9 SEPTEMBER 2022 – A new wave of premium canned and bottled cocktails is quickly changing the game for what we deem the perfect drink. While some might still insist that nothing can replace a great cocktail bar experience; drinking quality drinks at home or on the go has become increasingly popular in today’s society.

This is where Curatif comes in – with their lineup from Espresso Martinis and Tommy’s Margaritas made from hand-selected ingredients to entice even the most critical palate. And because these drinks are put together with skilful hands, the brand has been rewarded time after time with awards such as a Double Gold at the renowned San Francisco World Spirits Competition or a triple Gold Medal haul at the recent IWSC Awards reflecting excellence in product quality year after year.

Matt Sanger, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Curatif chats about the popularity of canned cocktails and the brand’s place in this new craft ready-to-drink era.

Matt Sanger, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Curatif

Curatif's Canned Cocktails

How has the canned cocktails trend evolved in the last few years and what do you think are the reasons for the gain in popularity?

If we take away the lens of cans and bottles, it really is cocktails that have kicked into overdrive over the last couple of years, with the shift towards higher quality and greater convenience.

Great cocktails are composed of incredible spirits, beautiful bases, intentional balances, tempering bitters and refined sweetness. They become a journey that in turn creates emotional memories. Now with so much consideration towards portability, it’s possible to have that ‘Oh Wow’ moment at home, in a hotel mini bar, on a plane, or wherever you choose.

Curatif's Canned Cocktail Range

What is the biggest challenge in the canned cocktail space?

Cans for one! Besides aluminium shortages, there is the perception around cans – for decades the only things that came in cans were designed to outlast a nuclear winter. Think beans, soups, anchovies – Spam! – they came in cans for reasons that are obvious – impervious to light and oxygen, easier to transport and store – the exact same reasons that make them the perfect vessel to ensure quality and freshness for world-class cocktails.

So, when consumers see our small cans on the shelf there is a bridge that we need to make for them between the can and the cocktail, which we’re doing by taking out top gongs at all the most prestigious award ceremonies around the world. Good things really do come in small packages!

Why did the team decide to start Curatif and what were the goals for creating canned cocktails in the spirit industry, considering other categories?

Australians love their RTDs – in fact, we consume more RTD per capita than any other country. The combination of convenience and culture – think barbecues, beaches, and festivals – as well as a healthy thirst-causing climate, has set the stage for down-under to become not just the capital of convenience consumption, but also the testing ground for major brand owners to test market their RTDs.

Unfortunately, traditional RTD is typically a brand extension – a signature spirit and mixer serve that attempts to take a bottle brand into scenarios it couldn’t otherwise enter. There has never been a lot of sophistication or innovation in the category, so we started asking; “Why can’t real cocktails be convenient too? Why does convenience have to equal cheap and cheerful?”. So we got to work on making world-class cocktails, in cans.

Silver Award Winner at 2021 World Premix Awards, Never Never Distilling Co. Negroni

What are the primary inputs that set Curatif aside from any other brands in this canned cocktail space?

Everything starts from scratch – at our facility we brew our own coffee in our own made-to-order brewhouse using coffee sourced by our great pals at Seven Seeds Coffee, we blend fresh juice with fruits from the central coast of Australia, and we do all of our own flavour work and R&D. We only use best in class spirit and liqueur partners, and so while that means that our product commands a premium pricetag, it’s because our cocktails are created using the absolute best ingredients. That level of attention to detail is the reason why the first thing that everyone says when they are introduced to the brand is “I can’t believe that came out of a can!”

And what are the areas of innovation and trends do you foresee in this wave of premium canned and bottled cocktails?

 We’re working on some really exciting new concepts, and we’d love to see the category expand with like-minded makers who want to bring class leading spirits, liqueurs, and aperitifs to the fore.

I think you’re definitely going to see more major brand owners who want to play in this space. The message has been loud and clear from both consumers and trade that ready-to-serve is a perfect solution, whether it is efficiency or improving consistency, or simply elevating the home-premise experience that customers are aspiring to attain – so expect to see cold-press coming to RTD, as well as the advancement of other mindful consumption concepts.

At Curatif, we’re focusing on how we can expand into other cocktail list favourites – whether that’s going to mean clarifications, shrubs, fizzes, or other expressions that have previously been too challenging for the RTD format the message is the same – watch this space.


ABOUT CURATIF

Created and perfected with the finest ingredients from around the world. Curatif cocktails are the drinks of the world’s best bars. Their ambition pushes the boundaries, which allows the brand to create an incomparable product, an opportunity for consumption to be elevated, improved, and for aspirations to be achieved.

As a dynamic independent start-up, Curatif has a keen focus on three core principles: Quality, Convenience and Sustainability. It is a daily pursuit to embed these values in the way they produce their exceptional ready-to-serve cocktails. Ultimately they aspire to deliver the most divine luxury, convenience without compromise.

For more information, please visit Curatif.


FROM THE DISTILLERY TO THE BARS, AN UNFILTERED PEEK INTO THE LIFE OF SINGAPORE'S GIN MAESTRO


SINGAPORE, 4 AUGUST 2022 – A love for crafting uniquely Singaporean tipples has been keeping Brass Lion Distillery motivated. More importantly, the brand hopes to elevate the city’s local drinking culture and further affirm Singapore’s thriving bar scene on the world map by building a global spirits brand. With the booming popularity of gin cocktails in Singapore, Brass Lion Distillery seeks to educate international and local audiences about how to create handcrafted spirits, while diversifying the industry with Made in Singapore drinks as Singapore’s first distillery.

In this Singapore’s National Day feature, we are given an exclusive look at the gin brand as Brand Ambassador Kino Soh shares a peek into her life, plans for world (gin) domination, and introduces her favourite bars to visitors and residents of Singapore alike.

Kino Soh, Brand Ambassador of Brass Lion Distillery

Brass Lion Distillery's Butterfly Pea Gin

What is an unfiltered look at your 24 hours, from your morning routine to your favourite way of unwinding?

I have a hectic work schedule and a full list of duties, but every morning starts off great, thanks to my magical mug of coffee.

When I get to the distillery, each day is an opportunity to create new possibilities and experiences. My day can be anything from an uninterrupted workday of grinding away at projects, to hopping behind the bar for some research and development on new drinks, or taste-testing freshly distilled gin.

It’s never a dull moment when you’re working with one of Singapore’s finest (and friendliest) – but after a long day of hard work, it feels so nice to go back home, kick back and relax. I love the company of good friends and a Brass Lion Butterfly Pea Gin with soda.

As someone who comes from a city with the most Asia’s 50 Best Bars, what are your favourite bars to go to?

There are so many bars in Singapore that are worth mentioning and since there are hundreds of high-quality bars, picking one is relatively tricky.

In Bad Company is known for throwing the most memorable parties in town, serving great food and having an extensive selection of our gins. Stay Gold Flamingo would be my go-to if you’re looking for a place with everything you need for a fun night out. Great drinks and excellent customer service from the friendliest team – these guys are great, and you won’t regret your visit.

Another noteworthy venue is MO Bar. It’s one of my favourites because of its eclectic menu and warm atmosphere. In addition, they offer a delicious satay-flavoured cocktail called Satay by the Bay. The cocktail is an excellent blend of the Brass Lion Singapore Dry Gin, bitters, and of course, satay. The fantastic team at the bar also makes me feel at home whenever I’m there.

Brass Lion Distillery

Tasting Room

If someone is looking for an incredible selection of gins that encompasses the spirit of Singapore, how would you recommend them to drink Brass Lion Gin?

A Calamansi Gimlet is one of my favourite drinks to make; it’s made up of Brass Lion Singapore Dry Gin, calamansi cordial, and lime. This simple yet delightful cocktail is our twist on a classic gimlet. It highlights the spicy, citrusy, and floral notes of The Singapore Dry Gin by pairing it with the tart and floral-flavoured calamansi fruit.

This refreshing drink goes great with many local dishes and we designed it specifically for Singapore’s weather!

Brass Lion Distillery has been around for four years now, so what do you see coming up next?

Is world domination too much to ask for? Frankly, we want to be Asia’s most recognised premium gin and be able to share the sunshine of our tropical spirits on a global stage. Plans were put on hold during Covid-19, but we are excited to get back in full force now that borders are opening up.

We’ve already made great strides towards achieving this goal thanks to our high-quality, handmade products that consist entirely of natural ingredients. In addition, we’ve joined the ecoSPIRITS initiative, which strives for sustainable production practices in the supply chain of premium spirits brands.


ABOUT BRASS LION DISTILLERY

The birth of the idea came back in 2012 when they were looking for a spirit crafted here in Singapore. After embarking on a six-year journey to create a spirit that can truly encapsulate the heart of Singapore, Brass Lion Singapore Dry Gin was brought to life.

Building upon classic gin foundations of juniper berries and coriander seed, the first Singaporean micro-distillery introduced traditional Asian flavours such as the aromatic torch ginger flower and citrusy lemongrass. The result? A smooth, vibrant spirit that is the quintessential expression of The Singapore Dry Gin –  a true reflection of the cultural melting pot that is Singapore.

For more information, please visit Brass Lion Distillery.


FROM BEHIND THE BAR: AN INTRODUCTION TO TEQUILA


ASIA PACIFIC, 21 JULY – Tequila, like any spirit, has its own complexities and nuances that are waiting to be explored. The world of tequila, in particular, has many facets that you may not know about if you’re not already steeped in it and familiar with the culture surrounding it. Interest in agave spirits continues to grow, and there have never been more tequilas lining liquor store shelves — be they celebrity-branded or craft blended. Each tequila has its own unique characteristics and flavour profile.

With so many tequilas available, finding exceptional tequila can be a challenge. That’s why we turned to the pros from behind the bar to share their tips on what you need to know about tequila if you want to drink the best stuff out there.

Agave Fields

The word tequila comes from an Aztec word te-kuia meaning “the place where we were born” as it was originally produced for hundreds of years before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico. Made from the Weber blue agave plant (also known as *agave tequilana*), the bulb or “piña” is baked and juiced before being fermented in tanks with yeast and then distilled to make tequila.

There are two main regions in Mexico’s Jalisco where agave is grown: the highlands, known as Los Altos, and the lowlands, sometimes called “Tequila Valley,” which are closer to the city of Tequila itself. These areas produce tequilas with dramatically different flavour profiles. Lowland tequilas tend to have more vegetal flavours like grass and sage than highland tequilas; they also tend to taste less sweet than their counterparts from higher altitudes. Highland tequilas, on the other hand, are usually smoother, sweeter, and fruitier than lowland tequilas. Recognising the importance of these two primary growing areas can be a big step to understanding the intricacies of Mexico’s premier spirit.

100% agave is a must when I’m selecting my choice of Tequila. Small batch and tequila from Los Altos would be my preference since there will be richer and more minerality in the spirit.

While I do enjoy drinking tequila neat without any other chaser so that wouldn’t affect the original flavour itself, this is also a fantastic spirit to be used in cocktails for a more wild and vegetal lift.

Tequila, like wine, is an expression of the place where the agave is grown. And not all tequilas — again, like wine — are created equal. So, the next time you enjoy your favourite tequila, keep an eye on the regions and the fields where its agave was grown. While many producers are vague about where their agave comes from, Arquitecto produces batches of tequila that are sourced from the lands of Master Tequilero, Enrique Fonseca, who is known for creating tequilas rich with agave character yet graced with a delicate finish. With no additives, diffusers, immature agave, and non-agave fermentation sugars, every bottle of Arquitecto is spectacular with its own clean character and is an easy choice to start your tequila journey with.

“Always avoid Mixto Tequilas! Having a smooth Blanco Tequila such as Arquitecto is perfect; great in cocktails and great as our house shot too! Generally, it’s great to experiment with and works with almost everything.” — Stuart Campbell, Bar Manager of Margo’s, New Zealand

Arquitecto Distillery

Once you’ve understood the fundamentals of this spirit, take your own tequila connoisseurship to the next level. Whether you prefer to sip it neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, each different style of tequila will strongly influence your experience.

There are five types of tequila depending on how long they have been aged in oak barrels. A blanco (white) has no ageing process and is bottled immediately after distillation, a reposado (rested) sits in oak barrels between two months and one year, an añejo (aged) ages between one year and three years while extra añejo (extra aged) sits for more than three years.

Jeremy Blackmore, Director of Mucho Hospitality Group

At Cantina OK!, we make margaritas with a mix of Tequila and a dash of Mezcal. The key to the flavour in a margarita is using lime squeezed right in the moment. The taste of the oils that are expressed from the skin of the lime is as important as the juice.

Personally, I have been returning to drinking tequila with lime and salt. There is something so honestly exciting about the whole process. I’m not really sure why we collectively decided it wasn’t cool but I’m all for bringing it back.

Imelda Ng, Greater China Brand Ambassador for Diplomatico

The taste of tequila elevates cocktails thanks to their distinctive agave flavour. The sweet and sugary essence followed by notes of vanilla and cinnamon makes it a great base for a Margarita and a Paloma!

When you start to understand the taste of tequila, I’d definitely recommend food pairings such as blanco with seafood, aged tequila with red meat or chocolate, and citrus and fresh herbs also works particularly well with the flavour of agave.

As you learn about how to enjoy tequila, remember that just like any other spirit, there is no one right way to drink it. As long as you do it thoughtfully and respectfully, feel free to experiment until you find what works best for you. The key thing is to not let preconceived notions about what kind of tequila you should drink limit your options. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun! The most important thing to keep in mind when drinking tequila is moderation. When used responsibly, all forms of tequila can make great drinks.


ABOUT TRUE BELIEVERS SPIRITS

True Believers was conceived by Proof & Company to offer a range of craft spirits that bridges the gap between economical pouring brands, which often fall short in meeting modern consumer preferences for craft credibility, and super-premium craft spirits, which are generally priced out of reach for house pouring programs. Each of the True Believers brands was developed individually to serve as a versatile archetype of its category, suitable for cocktails and sipping alike. The spirits themselves are produced with authentic craft values by highly-regarded distillers. 

ABOUT ARQUITECTO TEQUILA

Created from high-altitude agave grown on the lands of Master Tequilero, Arq. Enrique Fonseca, near Atotonilco in the highlands. Cooked, crushed, fermented, and distilled at his ABV Tequileña distillery in the town of Tequila. No immature agave, no non-agave fermentation sugars, no diffusers, and no additives were used in the production of this tequila.

For more information, please visit True Believers.



THE ART OF APERITIVO WITH MANCINO VERMOUTH


ASIA PACIFIC, 7 JUNE – Originating from the Latin verb “aperire” which means “to open”, the Italian Aperitivo has a long history extending back to the Roman Empire, and it has been widely spread across the globe. Aperitivo is more than just a simple Italian-style happy hour. Just like everything else, Italians conduct their pre-meal drinks with unmatched and almost unfair sophistication, adding Aperitivo to the long list of things that make Italian culture admirable.

Giancarlo Mancino, Creator of Mancino Vermouth and Rinomato Aperitivo

From 12 pm to 1 pm and 6.30 pm to 8 pm, the Aperitivo hour is a daily, informal celebration of life with good people, good drinks and good food and has become an art form of imbibing before the Italians eat.

“The Aperitivo is an essential moment of joy, relaxation, and a time for socialisation. It’s a strong Italian tradition that we always keep alive and incorporate into our range of Mancino Vermouth. Quality is essential as a true Aperitivo moment doesn’t need over-complicated drinks, but delicious craft spirits that can easily be topped up with a seltzer or some Prosecco.”

Created for the very dream of bringing back vermouth made in an authentic, classic 1900’s style, Mancino Vermouth will elevate your Aperitivo Hour with the taste of intricate flavours of the past in simple cocktail recipes.

“Most aperitivo drinks, historically, have a common ingredient: a Vermouth or a Bitter Liquor. A Negroni (the most sold cocktail for 2022), Vermouth Highball, Americano, and Spritzes are the “go-to” drinks for the Aperitivo moment. With simple ingredients, Mancino Vermouth helps to create a drink with lots of personality,” Grazia Di Franco, Mancino Vermouth Brand Ambassador explains.

Americano: Mancino Vermouth Rosso, Rinomato Bitter Scuro, Top with Soda Water

Cardinale Highball: Mancino Vermouth di Torino Secco, Rinomato Aperitivo Bitter Scuro, Dry Gin, Top with Grapefruit Soda

Flora Spritz: Mancino Vermouth Sakura, Rinomato Aperitivo Deciso, Top with Bubbles

As long as you are drinking, appetizers and other light fares should be available. One could regularly find these fundamentals; cured meat, olives and cheeses to vegetables, quiches, pizza, or a small plate of pasta. The Mancino Vermouth team recommends upgrading your food selection with some gourmet bites, homemade dips and small focaccia for a spread of sophisticated nibbles.

Pizza and a Milano-Torino

The great Italian ritual of Aperitivo is continuing to gain propulsion in Australia and Asia, with its Italian rich heritage. The purest expression of Aperitivo can be enjoyed anywhere: at home or in a bar, in a park or by the sea, so long as you are relaxing, in good company, with food and drinks that are delicious.

And Mancino Vermouth is encouraging people to take part in the Aperitivo ritual by providing easy-to-make cocktails at home as well as imparting tips on the best and happiest hour of the day. Just like there’s no Negroni without Vermouth, the Art of Aperitivo is never complete without Mancino Vermouth.


ABOUT MANCINO VERMOUTH

Mancino Vermouth was born in 2011 in a small family-run distillery in Asti, Piedmont. The distillery, established over 60 years ago in 1957, inspired Giancarlo Mancino, owner of the brand, to compose his own vermouth using only the finest hand-picked spices and botanicals. From the moment you pick up the bottle, its classic look and feel, together with the bittersweet concoctions awaiting inside, impress upon you the timeless character that make Mancino Vermouth an integral part of the world’s finest cocktail bars.

For more information, please visit Mancino Vermouth.


THE FUTURE OF WHISKY WITH SIMON MCGORAM, ATOM BRANDS


ASIA PACIFIC, 23 MAY – The whisky industry is exploding in growth with the number of small-batch distilleries increasing by double digits each year. Innovation seems to be coming out of every seam and people are demanding variety when it comes to grains, production styles, and consumption methods. Whisky drinkers are becoming increasingly diverse – pushing for something that suits their tastes rather than just settling for what’s typical – which will lead us into an exciting future filled with various changes within the current status quo.

For these reasons, we sat down with Simon McGoram, Regional Sales Manager of ATOM Brands (Asia Pacific) who shared his thoughts about whisky’s future.

Simon McGoram, Regional Sales Manager of ATOM Brands (Asia Pacific)

Atom Brands enjoys success at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards & Icons of Whisky

How has the market landscape for whisky evolved?

The landscape for whisky has evolved a lot in the Asia Pacific region and indeed around the globe. Whilst the brand ‘Scotch’ remains strong, we are seeing an emergence and increasing interest in new world whiskies. It’s one of the things I’m most excited about with working on brands like That Boutique-y Whisky Company which leads the conversation of craft whisky bottling exciting releases, White Peak in England, Nantou from Taiwan, Three Sheets in South Africa and Black Gate in Australia to name a few.

What are the areas of innovation you can foresee in the whisky process, ingredients and beyond barrels?

In terms of innovation, what haven’t we seen yet? As the world embraces new world whiskies, innovation can be found in every corner of the industry. Oxford Artisan Distillery is leading the charge with heirloom grains in England – it’s producing excellent whisky with more disease & drought-resistant crops (pertinent in the age of global warming). Archie Rose in Australia blends a six malt stream (with a load of speciality malts) to make their new make spirit in a dizzyingly complex process that has seen some delicious results to date. Let’s not forget the recently ratified category of Empire Rye in New York State is a driving force behind some excellent whisky from the US east coast. In short, it’s a great time to be a whisky fan.

What are the primary inputs for an excellent whisky in terms of ingredients, and processes?

Well, the ingredients for all whisky are pretty similar – grain (malted & unmalted), water, yeast and of course time in cask. We could spend a long time discussing speciality grains, length of fermentation, worms tubs and maturation regimes (and anyone who has spent any real length of time with me over a couple of drams would have fallen into this rabbit hole) – but really, I’m a firm believer that whisky is a primarily a product of people, passion and place.

These less tangible and personal elements are what help consumers fall in love with whisky – much like the bar industry, it’s passionate people that are at the heart of it working in a dynamic range of venues. Great whisky, much like a great bar, somehow manages to capture the essence & devotion of those behind it – and best manages to reflect the soul of where they’re from.

At That Boutique-y Whisky Company, we never try to lose sight that our whisky is made by people – our graphic novel-style labels often try to tell the story of the people and places involved in making their fabulous product.

What exciting news will we expect from your brand in the future?

In exciting news from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, we’re thrilled to be celebrating our 10th birthday this year and look forward to announcing soon a very special line-up of 10th Anniversary bottlings to mark the occasion. We are also planning a return trip to Australia after the success of our first Australian series. And very shortly our Boutique-y Record Series will be released – a double scotch whisky release that combines the teams’ love of music with some cracking drams.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Australia Series

Across the globe, demand for whisky is only increasing, so much so that it’s creating a new era of exploration for enthusiasts. Luckily for us, one company has been ruthlessly keeping up with the booming and changing markets, with innovation and quality at heart. ATOM Brands has been focused on crafting high-quality liquor products and extending to the joys of innovative research, leading them to what they do best today. Expect what you’ve come to love from this 8-years-old brand in future releases: awe-inspiring whiskies crafted by innovators who are always eager to seize inspiration before anyone else does.


ABOUT ATOM BRANDS

Being the disruptive innovative arm of the Atom Group, the leading distributor of craft spirits in the UK, ATOM Brands owns, creates and produces some of the most exciting, innovative and high-growth, multi-award-winning (and delicious) brands in the drinks industry. It all started with the creation of Bathtub Gin, and rapidly grew to include the full Ableforth’s portfolio, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, That Boutique-y Gin Company and That Boutique-y Rum Company, as well as the groundbreaking Drinks by the Dram. The winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – International Trade in 2019 which recognises outstanding short term growth in overseas sales over a 3 year period, ATOM Brands now proudly operates in over 70 growing craft spirit markets worldwide, including Taiwan, USA, China, Japan and Germany.

For more information, please visit ATOM Brands.


28 HONGKONG STREET ANNOUNCED YEAR-LONG PARTNERSHIP WITH AWARE SINGAPORE


SINGAPORE, 22 MARCH 2022 – This month, to celebrate women’s growing empowerment in the bar industry, 28 HongKong Street has announced its year-long partnership with AWARE Singapore, the premier organisation advocating gender equality across Singapore. Founded in 1985, the Association of Women for Action and Research continue to champion the right of all individuals to have an equitable say in education, employment, and opportunity.

28 HongKong Street is celebrating women throughout March by spotlighting three barrier-breaking alumni: Charmaine Thio, Desiree Silva, and Jessica ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson. Each of these luminaries have called 28 HongKong Street home at one point in their careers, returning to curate a list of four cocktails available at 28 HongKong Street for the month of March, with 10 percent of the drinks’ sales donated to AWARE, Singapore.

Left to Right: Jessica ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, Charmaine Thio, Desiree Silva

A pioneer of 28 HongKong Street, Desiree Silva (known affectionately as Dezzy), ran the floor with grace and confidence as floor manager. Today, Desiree is the co-owner of Sago House, which debuted at number 49 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2021, and at number 63 on The World’s 50 Best Bars 2021. Silva and her co-owners built Sago House from scratch, and courageously opened the bar during Singapore’s lockdown phase. Despite the challenging conditions, their entrepreneurial mindset and passion enabled them not just to survive, but to thrive. That success allowed them to open Low Tide, a tiki-inspired bar serving up tropical cocktails and food with a local twist — all within a year of opening Sago House.

Charmaine Thio’s journey at 28 HongKong Street began in 2015 where she started out as a barback and worked her way up to become head bartender. Since then, she has embarked on a new adventure as the regional brand ambassador of Hendrick’s Gin.

Jessica ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, Co-founder of No Sleep Club

Jessica ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson spent four years at 28 HongKong Street, working her way up from part-timer to front of house manager before becoming a personal spirits advisor for EC Proof. After leaving EC Proof, Hutch co-founded No Sleep Club in 2019, a venue that focuses on coffee and cocktails alongside some of the tastiest dishes in Singapore. With such a carefully curated menu and great hospitality, No Sleep Club landed at number 8 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2021 and at number 26 on The World’s 50 Best Bars 2021.

“I think it’s incredible that the AWARE is pairing up with venues that are inclusive in hiring and staffing, and also ensuring that their venues are inclusive and a safe space — especially for nightlife, which is a predominantly male-centred universe.”

AWARE is a non-for-profit organisation, and 28 HongKong Street is honoured to contribute to this charity that actively supports UN anti-discrimination declarations regarding sexual harassment, gender discrimination, age opportunity awareness, and strengthening the laws, policy, and mindsets pertaining towards the lives of women.

“We just wanted to give something back to the community and strive in all aspects to make it an industry we can truly be proud of,” says Christopher Peart, General Manager of the celebrated Singapore cocktail bar.

After March and through the rest of this year, each month will see 28 HongKong Street collaborating with a different cocktail bar from around the world. Our global friends who embrace diversity and support the cause will be creating a special cocktail exclusive for 28 HongKong Street, with those proceeds being donated to AWARE.

So come by, have some cocktails, and celebrate the great work done by AWARE.


About AWARE

AWARE is the leading women’s rights and gender equality group in Singapore. The non-profit organisation works to identify and eliminate the gender barriers through research and advocacy, education and training, and support services.

Since its formation in 1985, AWARE has carried out research into numerous issues affecting women, including workplace sexual harassment, poverty of older women, and Singapore’s compliance with UN anti-gender discrimination standards. Their CARE services provides case management, counselling, legal advice, Befriending and other assistance to women in need.

Learn more by visiting their website at https://www.aware.org.sg/

About 28 HongKong Street

Hidden behind an unassuming 1960’s shophouse façade, 28HKS is a word-of-mouth venue for people who might appreciate the kind of venue that we enjoy ourselves: relaxing at the beginning, growing a tad louder as the night goes on. The drinks focus’ is on artisanal spirits and American-style craft cocktails. The food is gussied up American comfort food made from scratch for sharing.

You can visit the venue from 5:00pm to 10:30pm, Monday to Saturday. You can follow the journey on Instagram.