• Tien Chew

What Does An Accomplished Bartender Drink? These 5 Master-Crafted Cocktails

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Ever wondered what a bartender of a certain calibre would order should he/she want to take five, relax and order a drink instead of serving one? I did.


I met mixologist extraordinaire Amanda Wan for the first time during a noteworthy guest shift at Iki_ya with Shawn Chong (of Omakase + Appreciate fame) for a special Malaysia Day event back in September. I ordered a mango-based cocktail off of her menu called Man Man Go (which was delicious), exchanged a few words with her, and handed her my card. Not long after our first encounter, she paid my website a visit and told me she enjoyed reading my articles. I extended an invitation to write a piece with her, and here we are!


Years ago, I wrote an article on Shawn asking him a series of insider questions that I thought those who weren't privy to the drink industry's insights would be keen to learn. And, I was right for the article proved to be rather popular.

Shawn and Amanda (with my drink in hand) during their Malaysia Day guest shift at Iki_ya

Riffing on that, I initially asked Amanda what her favourite cocktails to order when it was her time to enjoy a drink at the bar. She one-upped that and shared five master-crafted cocktails made by her respected peers around the globe.

Dear reader, you're in for a treat. These are five cocktails from internationally celebrated bartenders that you're going to want to put on your list when travelling is safe and permitted again. Or you can roll up your sleeves and try making these at home right now.

1) Shirmy Chan's Fisherman’s Blue and Envy Smith at Iki_ya, Kuala Lumpur

Photo: Shirmy Chan/Giffard's

Amanda says: "Nothing embodies peaceful retreat and someone who knows exactly what you need like an old friend. Meet Shirmy Chan. Over the years, Shirmy has carved out a solid path for herself within the local scene, recently making waves globally with her signature cocktail Fisherman’s Blue - an ode to her humble origins from a fishing village. Another favourite of mine is the Envy Smith, featuring white mint liqueur and green apples with a lightly brûléed topping."


What's in a Fisherman's Blue?

・Citadelle dry gin

・Japanese sake

・Giffard grapefruit syrup

・Giffard blue curacao

・Fresh lime juice

・Tonic water

Full recipe on Shirmy's IG.


Why drink a Fisherman's Blue?

It won Shirmy the Giffard West Cup Malaysia award and it's enticingly blue, like the allure of the ocean she so successfully captured. In its creator's own words, "The blue colour represents the sea, where my father spends most of his life in as a fisherman. Following his footsteps, I've decided to dive into the sea too, only to the sea of spirits. The garnish of gold dust symbolizes fishes my father caught – the key to support our family. The ice cube immerses into the drink just as the time my father has devoted to the sea and our family."

2) Faye Chen's Gold Fashioned at Speak Low, Shanghai, or Double Chicken Please, New York City

Photo: Bacardí

Amanda says: "The other half of DCP, Faye shook up the cocktail scene in Shanghai during her time with Speak Low (one of the #50bestbars by the acclaimed international bartender Shingo Gokan). Bacardí Carta Oro, longan and honey make up the main ingredients in Faye’s signature cocktail as an homage to her hometown of Taiwan. Never one to shy away from bold flavours, this lady helms the bar with grace and fire."


What's in a Gold Fashioned?

・Bacardi Gold rum

・Longan honey water

・Angostura bitters


Full recipe at Difford's Guide.


Why drink a Gold Fashioned?

According to Taiwanese-native Faye, the cocktail is inspired by her life in Shanghai. The drink is a new take on the classic old fashioned that won her the 2015 Chinese Bacardí Legacy.

3) Devender Kumar's Chocolate Martini, The Optimist, or 8 ½ Negroni at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, Hong Kong

Photo: Time Out Hong Kong

Amanda says: "Dubbed the Prince of Hospitality by his peers, Dev – as he is dearly known – is not only the perfect host but a cocktail magician. From house-blended vermouths for their delicious signature 8 ½ Negroni to the ultimate guilty pleasure of what I call “The World’s Most Decadent Chocolate Martini, Ever”, this gentleman has something for everyone. Don’t forget to have “The Optimist”, a heady blend of rum, basil and yellow Chartreuse."


What's in The Optimist?

・Yellow Chartreuse liqueur

・Bacardi Carta Blanca light rum

・Lime juice

・Ginger sugar syrup

・Honey sugar syrup

・Basil leaves


Full recipe at Difford's Guide.


Why drink The Optimist?

The cocktail was inspired by Devender's quest for making something simple yet delicious from easy-to-find ingredients. It also won him the 2015 Hong Kong Bacardí Legacy.

4) Antonio Lai's Earl Grey Caviar Martini at Quinary, Hong Kong

Photo: Quinary

Amanda says: "If you’ve ever met a real-life Speedy Gonzales, you’ve met Antonio Lai. Catch him if you can as he zips between his six cocktail bars in Central, Hong Kong. Antonio’s personal brand of all things imaginative and fantastic explodes with unhinged enthusiasm is perfectly showcased in the multi-sensorial Earl Grey Caviar Martini. Antonio lends his inimitable style to his other venues as well, where you can begin a night out at Draft Land with #cocktailsontap, and end at uber-intimate Room 309 with 'invisible cocktails'."


What's in an Earl Grey Caviar Martini?

・Cointreau

・Ketel One Citroen vodka

・Elderflower syrup

・Apple juice

・Lemon juice

・Lime juice

・Earl grey tea caviar

・Earl grey tea air


Why drink an Earl Grey Caviar Martini?

Look at it! The drink looks fantastic and as my buddy Nicholas from Food For Thought said in his review of the bar, "each sip of the martini is full of sweet and sour from the elderflower and Cointreau, and is filled with the aroma from the bittersweet earl grey foam. The pearls burst in your mouth releasing more flavour with a slight crunch, reminiscent of having bubble tea."

5) Gn Chan's Venceremos at Angel’s Share, New York City

Photo: Barcardí

Amanda says: "While Gn no longer works at Angel’s Share, the Venceremos is still available on their menu (thank goodness)! One half of new cocktail venture Double Chicken Please (opening soon in NYC), Gn’s global award-winning cocktail is equal parts refreshing and more-ish, given the combination of cucumber juice and drops of sesame oil. At DCP, expect to be pleasantly surprised as food and drinks take on their opposite forms, and one I cannot get enough of is the Beet Salad, in the form of a cocktail."


What's in a Venceremos?

・Bacardi Carta Blanca light rum

・Coconut rum

・Pineapple juice

・Cucumber juice

・Lime juice

・Sesame Oil


Full recipe at Difford's Guide.


Why drink a Venceremos?

It's a twist on the Piña Colada that won Gn the 2016 Champion and USA Bacardí Legacy.

A fantastic read on Amanda's exploits:

Breaking Stereotypes With Female Bartender Amanda Wan by Hive Life

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