Image CSS F&B
On the evening of 10 November, nestled amidst the scenic view of the city lights seen from The Hill, Damansara Heights, a battle took place. Bottles flew, onlookers cheered, and between ten talented competitors, there could only be one winner. This wasn’t your average bar fight though, it was the inaugural showdown that would determine the who’s who of South East Asian Bartending: Malaysia’s Flair Mixologist Search. After 6 weeks of heats, 5 of Malaysia’s top mixologists were selected to rise to the challenge against the best from Singapore, Indonesia, Bali, the Philippines and Vietnam. The assignment? Mix 3 drinks; 2 cocktails randomly drawn on the night, and 1 signature drink concocted from the mixologist’s own experimentation, using liquor and beverages selected from the competition’s sponsors (Volshenaya vodka, Xosa tequila, Triton gin, Solari rum, Toros wine, Redbull, Evian, F&N mixer and Berri’s Juice).
But that’s not all. They were set to be judged by six of the industry’s most refined alcohol experts, Frankie Ak Lason of Malaysia Bartender Association, Carlyn How of F&N Beverage Marketing Sdn Bhd, Caleb Teo of ARC International, Faizal Affendy President of Malaysia Bartender Association, Jimmy Tan of Sia Huat Singapore, David Junior of Bar Pro Indonesia, adhering to a criteria of 50% flair, difficulty and creativity, and 50% taste, originality (for signature drink) and knowledge of international cocktail preparation (for the randomly drawn drink).
As the elite crowd of guests looked on, these ten bartenders dipped, span and flipped bottles with superhuman skill and coordination, all synchronized to a showy soundtrack surging between Drum and Bass, Dubstep, R&B and even Latino. Dropped bottles and major mishaps only fuelled the crowd’s excitement, as one mixologist’s slip up earned him a judge’s accolade, with the reasoning that the audience response of wild shouting and applause proved that the crowd enjoyed the display.
After a few hours of intense mixing, the verdict was announced, with Rama Suwiyoga of Indonesia securing first place, to be followed by Oka Angga Sp (Bali), Michael Pham (Vietnam) and Jack Muhamad (Malaysia) as the first, second, and third runners up respectively
The organiser’s aims of promoting cocktail culture here in Malaysia were enthusiastically met at the Flair Mixologist Search. Mixing their own drinks from the sidelines in lieu of performing on stage, the attendees were inspired to experiment with their cocktail combinations, resulting in an amiable and entertaining Thursday evening. Who knows, start practicing now and it could be you that takes the title of mixing champion in 2012.
The Malaysian Flair Mixologist Search 2011 was presented by CSS F&B and took place on Thursday 10 November at The Hill, Damansara Heights, check out the gallery here.