Earlier this year Bacardi announced the six finalists that had made it into the final round of the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition for 2017; the third edition has seen quite a contest to finally sieve out the worthy in making a rum-based cocktail that can satisfy both the amateur drinker and seasoned cocktail hounds, as well as stand the (taste) test of time.
To make sure the panel of judges actually knew what they were doing, we made it a point to visit each final contestant at their bars in order to suss our their various cocktails. And we did it in one night too. So while we’re not going to officially state our own prediction – we wouldn’t want to be accused of overtly influencing anybody’s opinions, after all – we have a fair idea of who are the front runners in this competition.
Here’s what we thought of each competition cocktail, and in no particular order:
Rising Wind, by Brendon Khoo of Crackerjack.
It’s Brendon Khoo’s second crack at Bacardi Legacy – he also participated last year – but this time he got into the national finals with Rising Wind, a nod to his favourite filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. Wind, according to Khoo, also symbolises renewal and growth.
Bacardi 8, balsamic vinegar, syrup, lemon juice, pineapple juice, and basil.
Rising Wind is refreshing and lively, perked up by the use of balsamic vinegar where the acetic acid helps to balance the sweetness of the other ingredients.
- + Being part of the Proof & Co family helps
- + Interesting use of balsamic vinegar instead of a shrub
- + An easily replicable drink
- – Dilution from use of crushed ice can affect the drink over time during judging
Yellow Ribbon, by “Uno” Wonho Jang of Orgo.
Also native Korean Uno’s second go at Bacardi Legacy; Yellow Ribbon denotes second chances, as the song “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” goes. In Korea, there’s a movement where people wear yellow ribbons to show that a small movement can create miracles.
Bacardi Carta Blanca, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lime juice, lemon and ginger honey, basil and a dash of saline.
With its citrus freshness from lemon and a zing of ginger, you could be forgiven for mistaking Yellow Ribbon as a cold remedy.
- + Easy access to advice from boss and mentor Satoshi Iwai, who was a top five finalist in 2016
- + Korean heartthrob looks
- – Orgo is less well-known compared to the bars other finalists are from
- – Weaker grasp of English can be a liability during presentation
Vida Rica, by Jonathan Lee of Tippling Club.
Vida Rica means “good life” in Spanish, and the cocktail symbolises the Cuban penchant for cherishing happiness, family, dance and music.
Bacardi 8, lemon juice, caramel syrup, egg yolks and orange blossom water.
As much a dessert as a drink, Vida Rica is complex with caramel richness balanced by a touch of citrus. As the honeycomb melts into the cocktail, a different flavour emerges.
- + Lee’s culinary background shows with clever use of honeycomb, and in balancing flavours
- + Tippling Club’s gastronomic influence
- – Not easily replicated, and honeycomb requires early preparation
Marshall, by Davide Boncimino of The Other Room
Named after Chris Marshall, a regular bar fly at The Other Room and seasoned drinker in Singapore’s cocktail bar circuit.
Bacardi 8, oloroso sherry, St Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, agave nectar and black peppercorns.
Agave nectar and oloroso sherry brings complexity and depth to this sipping cocktail, while sharp spice of the black peppercorns helps perk up the palate.
- + Charismatic flair and a fantastically winning smile
- + Extensive experience in London and Milan
- + Dastardly clever use of a well-known personality in the cocktail drinking scene
Regalo, by Cedric Allen Mendoza of Manhattan Bar
Regalo means “gift” in Spanish, and a gift symbolises friendship and happiness. Filipino Mendoza was inspired to make this by memories of drinking rum-laced iced teas and beers, with a side of nuts.
Bacardi 8, lemon juice, earl grey syrup, black walnut bitters and lager.
Somewhat sweet but tempered by effervescence and hoppiness of the beer, the Regalo is easy to chug.
- + Backed by reputation of Manhattan Bar and the Four Seasons-run Regent Singapore
- + Pinoy social media power, as experienced by compatriot Adonis Reyes in last year’s Bacardi Legacy Singapore finals
- – Beer can be finicky and hard to work with
Avante, by Syafiq Rahim of 28 Hong Kong Street
Inspired by Syafiq’s lovely other half, Avante means moving forward in life – a constant reminder to focus on improving his lot – and of those around him – in life.
Bacardi 8, DOM Benedictine, lime juice, homemade ginger honey syrup, mint leaves and Martini prosecco.
Rich without being overbearing, yet delicate enough for different flavours to peek through.
- + His Proof & Co family readily on hand for advice and guidance
- + Stellar reputation of 28 Hong Kong Street
- – Needs practice for more panache and flair
The Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition 2017 Singapore Finals will take place on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at Clarke Quay from 7.30pm. The theme for this year’s competition is Casa Bacardi House of Music and Mixology, so you can expect to catch the likes of bands such as Wicked Aura and The Sam Willows live even as the six finalists compete with their cocktails. The event is open to the public.