Following a battle of epic proportions, there was no doubt that Peter Chua from 28HKS brought the crowd to his feet at the Diageo Reserve World Class (Singapore) round, with his dexterous hands and infectious personality. Peter completed the last challenge in 3 of the allotted 10 minutes. Spectacular.

Joining Peter at the South East Asian Final in May are Bannie Kang and Tom Hogan from Anti:dote. There’s still hope for everyone else who didn’t make the cut then. Gary Regan will be visiting one of the five bars who are vying for the coveted last spot at Diageo Reserve’s South East Asian final.

The five contenders are Mark Thomas (Bacchanalia), Yugnes (Tippling Club), Louis Tan (L’Aiglon), Boo Jing Heng (Jigger & Pony) and Adrian Batlle (Catalunya Singapore). Here is the low-down of the Ketel One vodka based drinks that were specially crafted to entice Gary over.

1. L’Aiglon

Louis has a penchant of working with unconventional ingredients (e.g. tomato and lychee), as he enjoys wading through unchartered territory as he quips that there is no point doing something that someone had already done before. As a result of being on the prowl for the best way to work with chrysanthemum for 6 years, he struck gold when recently managed to successfully distill the essence of chrysanthemum to his liking.

The result is a punchy refreshing drink, which has a smooth aftertaste with a touch of chrysanthemum that lingers on the palate. Definitely one of our favourites.

Chrysanthemum infused cocktail

2. Tippling Club

Tippling Club’s cheeky variation of a Negroni certainly packs a punch with roasted orange curacao, sweet vermouth, amaro montengero and a host of other hard-to-pronounce ingredients. The result is a one of the most potent contenders. It literally slid down our throat like chariots on fire.

Cheeky version of the Negroni

Special mention goes out to Tippling Club’s use of kooky vessels, which is in line with the restaurant’s concept of subverting expectations. From Penhaligon perfume bottles to medicinal cough-syrup looking containers, the boys at Tippling Club are not afraid to experiment. For the adventurous, try the “Smokey Old Bastard” which has concentrated cigar smoke infused into it – inhale the smoke, before downing the liquid in jar. What a creative and efficient way to imbibe. We gently caution of a looming headache if you aren’t used to smoking cigars.

Purple Drank – Specially brewed at Tippling Club

3. Jigger & Pony 

Thus far, Jing Heng is the only contender that has roped in local elements by ingeniously transforming teh-halia (ginger tea) into a cocktail. Watch him dexterously light up the ginger essence with a blue flame, and pull the liquid teh-tarik style in a way that would make the coffeeshop uncle would be proud. Jigger & Pony’s cocktail is topped off with candied ginger specially prepared as a garnish that leaves a tangy aftertaste. Conceptually, this drink would definitely win the hearts of many locals.

For us, it seemed as though the liquids were immiscible, as the ginger and tea though nicely infused, seemed to stay at the top, and it was only till we sipped to the bottom of our glass, did we taste the Ketel One vodka. That said, we compliment Jing Heng for his bold move and effort in adding spice to a local tea by mixing in orange bitters and preparing the cocktail in a way locals can relate to.

Boo JIng Heng with the final product

Editor’s note: Due to time constraints, we were not able to sample the cocktails from Bacchanlia and Catalunya. Nonetheless, we are happy to announce that Mark Thomas  from Bacchanalia has clinched the coveted spot to join our 3 other Singapore representatives in Diageo Reserve’s South East Asian final.