Features

What Asia’s bar industry will be drinking on Open That Bottle Night

The perfect excuse to crack open a bottle you’ve been sitting on for a while. By Holly Graham.

In 2000, Tastings columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher created “Open That Bottle Night” – an annual occasion on February 27 designed to encourage people to reconnect with each other over a bottle that they had been sitting on, waiting for an excuse or special occasion to open it. 

With many in lockdown, or working under restricted measures and needing any excuse for a celebratory drink, we asked bar industry professionals in Asia what they plan to crack open on the day.

Ross Woodford (Owner of Life on Mars, Shenzhen)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
Tapatio Extra Anejo that I picked up back home in England. It is technically open but I very rarely drink it – only when I’m with someone who really loves agave spirits and expresses so when they’re at my bar. So far I’ve only had about three shots in two years. 

Why haven’t you finished it?
I never try to make it happen – a guest needs to kind of say the right things like some sort of passionate secret agave code before I’ll be all like: “Well have I got something special for us to share!” and crack it out from my bottle locker.

Matthew Fergusson-Stewart (Director of Spun Spirits, Singapore)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
El Dorado Skeldon Rum – my company imports it.

Why haven’t you opened it?
To be honest, I’ve just been waiting for an excuse to treat myself and this day has given me one. We started a distribution business during COVID-19, and El Dorado was the first brand we got agency for, and the first pallet that arrived. I bought a bottle of our top rum on that pallet as a symbol of our new beginnings. I have been saving it but I had no idea exactly what for. We’ve just landed two new brands so now is a great time, and February 27 is the perfect trigger.

Bastien Ciocca (Owner, Hope & Sesame, Guangzhou)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
A magnum of rosso vermouth made by my grandfather in the 1960s that was hand carried from Switzerland

Why haven’t you opened it?
It’s the only magnum left in the family, so I’m still waiting for a very special moment, not sure what and when but it’s rather precious to me.

Alicia Mak (Founder of Atas Speakeasy, Ipoh)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
Machuca Rum sent to me by Joel Goor.

Why haven’t you opened it?
Because it was a gift from the founder himself, all the way from Dominican Republic.

John Go (Self proclaimed spirits geek/barfly, Manila)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
W.L. Weller 7 (45%) bottled in the early 90s that I bought in a random store in the Tokyo countryside.

Why haven’t you opened it?
I have too many open bottles!

Priyanka Blah (Founder of The Dram Attic, India)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
Bozal Pechuga sent to me by the founder since travel has been out of the question.

Why haven’t you opened it?
In general, Bozal Mezcal  is pretty hard to find in most parts of the world, and I honestly don’t know when we can travel again so holding onto it for dear life. The pechuga in particular is even harder to find.

Cyrene de la Rosa (Freelance F&B content producer, Manila)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
Nikka Taketsuru 17 bought from a local booze shop that was owned by one of my craft beer drinking buddies.

Why haven’t you opened it?
It was a random buy circa 2017 or earlier. Back then, Japanese whisky was hard to find and buy at a decent price but my friend was able to snag a few bottles. It won a best whisky award a few days after I bought it so I decided to keep it longer. I really regret buying just one bottle as it is now worth three to five times its original price and I have received offers from some friends to buy it!

Gliga Gabriel (General Manager of Havana Social, Bangkok)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
A solera-aged Negroni from Manhattan Singapore that they gifted me when I first visited. 

Why haven’t you opened it?
It was my first time in Singapore, and I always had so much respect for Manhattan, following them for years before ever stepping inside the bar. So, I am waiting for the opportunity to be with them to open it and have shots together.

Denise Khan Tan (Customer marketing at Bacardi, Singapore)

What’s a bottle you haven’t opened?
A Chocolate Boulevardier from PONY Cocktails, gifted to me from Indra, Guo Yi and team! 

Why haven’t you opened it?
It’s so special! I want to wait for a special occasion so I can share it with my friends.

Editor: And me? Sadly I will be off the booze on February 27 as the next morning I will be hiking an ultra marathon across Hong Kong. But I do have a nice bottle of Billecart Salmon that I will be popping when I’m done! 

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