The week celebrating the OG of all cocktails comes to Asia in a bigger way in 2017. By Natasha Hong.
There’s just nine days to go before registration closes for this year’s Old Fashioned Week. The festival that wants you to stir, not shake, cocktail history’s first-ever creation aims to raise awareness around the classic drink, as well as challenge bartenders around the world to create their own interesting twists.
Already, a total of 55 Asian bars from Bali to Seoul, Bangkok to Okinawa, have added themselves and their cocktails on the Old Fashioned Week site, but with the founders aiming to best last year’s record of 180 international bars participating, more from the region are encouraged to sign up.
Max Traverse, rest of Asia ambassador for this year’s Old Fashioned Week, has registered over 40 bars in Asia since September, and when the week rolls around on November 2 to 11, the Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge owner will make his rounds around the bars in Hong Kong and Singapore to show his support. The ambassador has also secured bottle buy promos for participating bars in Hong Kong from local distributors Fine Vintage (distributing JM Rhum), Metabev (Wild Turkey) and Leung Yick (Monkey Shoulder) during the week.
A slew of activities are also in the works for the city. On November 8, from 3 to 5pm James Barker from 208 Duecento Otto will be collaborating with Zoltan Konczol, Hong Kong and Macau’s Wild Turkey ambassador, to present a trade masterclass covering the cocktail’s history, brand knowledge and the rise, fall and rebirth of American whiskey through the lens of Wild Turkey. Barker is also partnering with the American bourbon brand to present a menu of cocktails to celebrate the week, in place of the Highballs and Meatballs Wednesday specials at the restaurant-bar.
In Singapore, a group of industry leaders have stepped up organically to raise awareness around the week. The Dandy Partnership’s Andrew Yap, brand ambassadors Jay Gray (Monkey Shoulder), Rhyse Borland (Havana Club) and brand reps from Campari and Remy Cointreau are building on Traverse’s early work to enlist more bars to the cause.
At an information session held at the Proof Flat on October 10, the group announced plans to offer photography and publicity for venues taking part in Singapore. Gray and Borland have plans to run guest shifts, while the brands are open to support consumer and special event activations during the week. The different brands who’ve banded together to drive Old Fashioned Week in Singapore will also be channeling donations to Bartend Against, and will be encouraging participating venues to do the same. Bartend Against is a charity initiative led by UK barmen Calum Adams and Ben Iles who support a variety of causes, including hurricane and earthquake relief at present.
Bars already on board in Singapore include Neon Pigeon and Summerlong under Yap’s purview, as well as the Jigger & Pony stable of venues, including its Old Fashioned-championing Flagship. Other Asian cities with a substantial presence this year include Hong Kong with 20 venues such as Traverse’s Honi Honi, Potato Head, The Old Man, and Employees Only, and Kuala Lumpur with seven bars on the roster, such as Jack Rose, Coley and Junglebird.
DRiNK Magazine is an official media partner for Old Fashioned Week 2017.