Remember La Maison Cointreau, or at least Asia’s first edition of that mixologist challenge where 10 of Singapore’s best and most creative mixologists from some of our city’s most popular bars were brought together to come up with intriguing and titillating cocktails using Cointreau? Well, its back again.
The bi-annual La Maison Cointreau Commercial Challenge returns to find the most creative and innovative bartender of the year, with a series of challenges set for the 2015/2016 edition to search for the finalists in the Singapore heats before the winner is identified to represent the country in the regional finals next year.
We’re currently in the second part of the competition – where the finalists have already been identified – and for the second challenge, the seven Singapore-based bartenders shortlisted have been tasked to create a cocktail (using Cointreau of course) based on the theme of “Moi & Toi” (French for me and you). But just like the ongoing Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition success at this challenge requires not only cocktail mixing genius, but also savvy at promoting and marketing their tipple on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
So for this weekend (today till Sunday 13 December), the public is invited to visit the 7 finalists at their bars head to try their individual Toi & Moi cocktails, and to leave their feedback on Facebook and Twitter. Also remember that public nominations for The Bar Awards – Singapore 2016 is currently open, so it’s a great time to visit these bartenders and see if their establishments are worthy to be voted in for the awards as well.
Who will seduce moi and toi?
Here are the cocktails of the seven finalists:
The cocktail comes served as a pair and with a locker where guests will be required to deposit their phones and hand the key to Head Bartender, Naz. Only after the drinks have been consumed will guests’ phones be returned to them. Aimed at encouraging people to disconnect and enjoy moments with their loved ones, the drink is meant to help others slow down and be present in the now. Made out of Cointreau, Botanist gin, peach liqueur, rose water and Peychaud’s bitters, two to tango is light on the palette with a fresh zest of citrus tones perfectly balanced out by the use of bitters.
Always one to push boundaries, Naz is know for his “freestyle” form of bartending where he experiments with unique and as he calls it, “insane” ingredients. “I have one rule, which is that I do not follow any rules! I want to showcase my spontaneity and creativity and let the cocktail experience be fun for everyone,” Naz says.
A Vow for Eternity
by Matthew Chan of Bacchanalia ($56)
This cocktail was inspired by traditional Korean wedding ceremonies, Honrye, where couples drink baekseju (prized Korean glutinous rice wine flavoured with herbs) together to signify their eternal bond. Made with Cointreau, Rémy Martin Club Cognac, Baekseju and Sujeonggwa Syrup (traditional Korean fruit punch made from dried persimmons, cinnamon and ginger), expect some very warm and vibrant Korean flavours that are not commonly explored in cocktails. The drink can be compared to traditional cocktails, the old fashioned and sidecar, but with a splash of baekseju and added tasting notes of persimmons, cinnamon and ginger.
The perfect setting to experience this concoction will be for lovers who are looking for something extra special on a romantic night out. Matthew describes his style as someone who takes from international standards and techniques and works towards incorporating Asian elements to these practices.
Cloak and Dagger
by Mark G. Thomas of Club 39 ($35+)
Inspired by Cointreau’s legacy, wine drinking and the Prohibition era that took place between the 20s and early 30s. This cocktail presents mystery – glancing at it does not do the drink justice as every sip reveals different layers of flavour profiles on the palate. Shared between two people on a quiet night out. This experience brings you out of a crowded setting and into a world shared by two, into an intimate moment. Made with Cointreau, The Botanist Gin infused with Honeydew, Campari, Aperol, Homemade Berry Vermouth, Clarified Grapefruit Juice and Homemade Frozen Cinnamon Water. The cocktail exudes a smokiness coupled with the fruity flavours of infused honeydew and berry vermouth for some sweetness.
Mark’s style of mixing is centered on creating an experience for his guests. To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
It is common for many people, regardless of whether they are on a date or just friends, to meet and get to know each other over a cup of coffee. The flavours call to mind the festive season of Christmas which brings people closer together, allowing them to reconnect with relatives and friends that they have lost touch with, and share the joy of giving.
Guests will taste multiple layers of flavours, textures and temperatures as they make their way through the drink. The chocolate popping candy offers wonderful sensations with tiny explosions in your mouth that is then matched with the savoury flavours of duck jamón filo pastry. The drink offers many contrasts with its warm foam that slowly leads up to the cold drink below. Reena likens this to the many layers you will experience when getting to know someone on a deeper level. “The truth about you and me is that even though we may be different in terms of flavours or personalities, we complement each other.”
The rest of the drink features a strong berry flavour to balance up the chocolate topping and duck jamon with the use Cointreau, Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac, Fresh Lemon Juice, Homemade Raspberry Coulis and Homemade Strawberry Balsamic Rosemary Jam.
As seen with this cocktail, Reena likes to experiment with ingredients that are not commonly used in cocktails such as sweet potato and soursop. She hopes to be the first female bartender, and the youngest to represent Singapore in La Maison Cointreau Asia 2016.
Made for the gentleman who appreciates the finer things in life, this cocktail is served straight up with a hint of orange zest, absinthe, nutmeg and cinnamon. Other ingredients include Cointreau, Irish Moonshine, Fernet-Branca, Angostura Bitters, Fresh Lime Juice, Homemade Passion Fruit Puree and Fresh Mint Bunch. The drink is a nod to the prohibition era and celebrates the comraderie and friendships formed between dapper men of that generation.
Keeping true to modern times, Cheryl dresses up the drink differently to suit both male and female customers. Garnish for the gentleman – Straight up, orange zest, additional Absinthe spray, micro-grated nutmeg and cinnamon. Garnish for the ladies – Served with crushed ice, orange zest, cinnamon stick and mint sprig for garnish.
Cheryl describes her mixing style as one, which uses the simplest ingredients to create a complex and flavourful cocktail. She believes that anyone can make a good cocktail with the right inspiration and knowledge and some creativity.
Made with Cointreau, The Botanist Gin, Poire Williams, Homemade Rose and Lemon Syrup, Fresh Lemon Juice and White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc). Inspired by one of his all-time favourite British crime drama television series duos, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Joel has made a drink that is to be shared among good friends and partners (in crime or otherwise). The drink is light and easily palatable by most and is aimed at being a drink for people – lovers, friends, and maybe even for the lonely heart.
“Sherlock Holmes solves mysteries, riddles and clues, hence the treasure chest and written note served with my cocktail. Solving the mysteries on the note will give guests the password to the combination lock, where a treasure awaits them,” says Joel.
“I chose these ingredients for my cocktail because there is a beautiful marriage of flavours between rose and gin. I chose Poire Williams for its subtle flavour, as I did not want the cocktail to be too fruity. The use of wine sets a romantic feel to the cocktail, while the carbonated touch makes the cocktail like fruit champagne. Champagne here calls for a toast to either the start of working together to solve a mystery or after a mystery has been solved.”
Joel describes his style being able to adapt to the consumer and trying new things along the way. He values sharing experiences with his guests over simply providing a drink for them over the counter.
The drink is inspired by a comic illustration, which tells the tale of two lovers, the “fire” spirit and the “water” spirits who fell in love with each other but were unable to stay together as neither element can survive with the other. The only way to stay together is if both elements turn into their gaseous states. The tea light candle brewing the tea represents the fire spirit, while the tea represents the water spirit.
Edrianne incorporates both elements into his cocktail made with Cointreau, Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac and freshly brewed Eight Treasures Tea. The drink is perfect for a cold night in December as it is served warm.
Edrianne prefers using fresh ingredients in his cocktails and playing around with herbs and spices. He believes winning the competition will be a great experience for him to learn more on an international stage and to further his skills and training.