Jeff Bell, head bartender of New York City's speakeasy Please Don't Tell (PDT) and winner of Diageo Reserve World Class US Bartender of the Year 2013, was in town to judge the Singapore leg for the competition he won.
The 28-year-old was the guest judge at the 'Tanqueray No. Ten Tea and Tonic' challenge. The challenge took eight hours, with 28 bartenders competing to represent Singapore at the Southeast Asia Finals.
Post challenge, judge Bell sat down with us to give us some tips on cocktail making, and what he thought of the Singapore cocktail scene.
"I wasn't sure what to expect when i came to Singapore, regarding cocktails. There wasn't a bad drink that was served at the Challenge," he said off camera.
The Diageo Reserve out-going winner added, "Everybody (at the Challenge) has a clear grasp on what balanced, how flavours interacted."
This is the fifth year the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender programme is running in Singapore. This was Bell's first visit to Singapore.
When asked what cocktail he would make here, Bell alludes to the weather: "It's very warm and humid, so the drinks probably should reflect that. You probably want long drinks here, like the Singapore Sling which is famous around the world. It is tall, citrus-driven. I would incorporate different local flavours, use the different Singapore spices and herbs to add a little complexity to your drinks."
Bell shares a recipe he served at the pop-up session he held at Jigger & Pony in Singapore. The One-Two Punch is a PDT signature, named after a boxing jab as a cheeky way to convey the strong 'punch' within the cocktail.
Bell makes the Singapore version with Tiger beer:
For the citrus oleo-saccharum:
340g caster sugar
360ml boiling water
For the drink:
45ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
15ml lemon juice
15ml grapefruit juice
15ml citrus Oleo-Saccharum*
90ml Tiger beer
La Boíte Borneo No. 26 Spice Mix (ground long pepper, lemon zest and ground mace)
Half a wheel of grapefruit
1. Make the citrus oleo-saccharum first. Using a Microplane or similar tool, zest the entire surface of the grapefruits and lemons into a bowl.
2. Add the sugar and let stand for 1 hour.
3. Add the boiling water to the zest and sugar mixture and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Fine-strain and chill before using.
4. To make the cocktail, add all the ingredients except the beer to a mixing glass and fill with ice.
5. Stir, and strain into a glass filled with fresh ice.
6. Top with the beer.
7. Garnish with a pinch of La Boîte Borneo N. 26 Spice Mix and a grapefruit half-wheel.