A look back at the cocktails that excited us the most this year.
Yesterday was new venues, but with the clock ticking down on 2016 and the time to raise a glass to the New Year fast approaching, we’ve taken a look back through all the new drinks we sampled or written about this year, and then picked out 16 – for our second Sixteen from 2016 review. Please note: we can’t guarantee these drinks were all first created in 2016 (so don’t put them in a time capsule or anything), but they did make the pages of DRiNK Magazine this year (in print or online), either connected to new venues, new menus or 2016 competitions. So in no particular order, here we shine a spotlight on the recipe ideas shaping the Asia drinks scene in 2016:
Tsujiki Fizz, by Colin Chia, Nutmeg & Clove, Singapore
Pulling together the twin trends for black drinks and umami, Nutmeg & Clove’s twist on the Ramos is a luscious and faintly briny winner.
#BananaDaiquiri, by Zach Luther, Rils, Kuala Lumpur
Zach Luther is on his way out of KL, but this cocktail shows what wherever his next destination can look forward to: absolute mastery of flavour delivery.
Mamarita by Dre Masso, Akademi, Bali
Signature drink on the opening menu of Akademi and a brilliant showcase for the bar’s infused arak – combined here with mangosteen in an excellent Margarita twist.
Stockton Negroni by Suraj Gurung
Part of this year’s Negroni Week, even if it’s not a new recipe. We’ve tasted this classic twist and it’s a slightly sweeter, even more botanical riff: delightful.
Duck Fat Hope, by Yugnes Susela, Smoke & Mirrors, Singapore
After leaving Tippling Club, Yugnes has now got his own menu to express all the ideas and techniques he’s developed so far. Spiced duck fat never danced so delicately.
1975, by Josh O’Brien, The Bowery, Brisbane
One from the wider Asia Pacific region, Josh O’Brien came to Phuket to compete in La Maison Cointreau finals and blew the competition away. Of his three winning drinks, this Thai green curry-backed Margarita was our favourite.
Sea Freeze, by Le Thanh Lung, Qui, Ho Chi Minh
Wasabi and green tea shrub put to work with pistachio, coconut and passionfruit. Qui’s drinks are as bold as its artwork.
Caperitif, by Luke Whearty, Outrage of Modesty
Luke Whearty’s Cape Town opening Outrage of Modesty continued his modernist drink making, this time with an even greater obsession over local ingredients. Not from Asia, but the Operation Dagger connection was all we needed to include this one.
One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula, by Annemarie Sagoi, Le Boutier, Phnom Penh
Annemarie Sagoi combines an elaborate name and an excellent backstory in this wonderful drink.
Mist, by Nick Wu, East End, Taipei
Simple, vodka… brilliant. If it’s good enough to get World Class judge Ueno-san’s recommendation, it’s good enough for us.
Float Like A Butterfly, by Lexis Tan, Red Tail Bar, Singapore
Winner of this year’s Gin Jubilee, and a very drinkable g&t twist. It also gets a nod because there was a mini Asia trend for using blue pea flower this year, both for presentation and flavour, and here its colour gets harnessed to beautiful effect.
Congee by Jiang Yifu, Happy Endings, Shanghai
While paperwork put paid to the venue almost as soon as it opened, those lucky enough to try this witty take on traditional southern Chinese breakfast got a very happy ending indeed. Delicious, beautiful and a little out of leftfield.
Goodbai Fu Manchu by Phil Tory, The Tiki Bungalow, Beijing
Tiki gave back this year in the Chinese capital: rather than stick to the script of well-thumbed cocktail books, Tiki Bungalow owner Phil Tory answered the challenge of World Baijiu Day for a tiki drink with Chinese characteristics.
A Crocodile Dilemma by Lu Yao, Union Trading Co, Shanghai
Not all cocktails require a college-level schooling in philosophy, but this homage to New Orleans is not all drinks. A smoky, savoury Sazerac that makes you think.
Jet-Black Bird by Rogerio Igarashi Vaz, Bar Trench, Tokyo
Black drinks were on-trend this year, and this one even managed to tick another box with the presence of charcoal powder in a perfect digestif.
Beatween The Sheets by Rick Starr, Commune Social, Shanghai
The kitchen really came into the bar with this eye-catching concoction, which sees homemade cordial, infused tequila and a PX sherry vinegar combine to great effect.