I for the Hong Kong Spirit
Cocktail competitions set a stage for bartenders to showcase their skills, and it could even be their springboard to go international. Chance is here now, as the Monkey Shoulder Hong Kong Bartender Challenge will take place at this year’s Wine and Dine Festival and Wine & Spirits Fair and welcomes all mixologists.
Kitty Marketing Manager, Leung Yick and the representative, of the Challenge organizer, said since the Scottish whisky brand was launched in Hong Kong two years ago, Monkey Shoulder has won hearts of many whisky aficionados. The blend, full of flower and honey aromas, makes an ideal base for cocktails, so the challenge is the perfect time to publicise the colourful and rich flavours of Monkey Shoulder.
The theme of the challenge is “Hong Kong Spirit, Hong Kong Taste.” Sounds simple, but how does one present a city in a drink? One of the judges, Malt and Spirits Editor-in-Chief Nelson Siu said he once had a cocktail that used Vitasoy and monk fruit, which much impressed him because they made it unmistakably Hong Kong at the first sip. Another judge Kit Cheung, bar consultant of Sohofama and Ozu, a mixologist himself, created a number of Hong Kong-themed mixes. He said the meaning of “Hong Kong Taste” shouldn’t be limited to food and beverage, but also culture, so details should be observed from how the cocktail is presented to how the bartender is dressed. “The most memorable ‘Hong Kongish’ cocktail is called ‘congee with aged mandarin peel,’ in which were the ‘three treasures of Canton:’ preserved mandarin peel, ripe ginger and straw grass, served in a bowl with traditional patterns. It looked think and felt really like congee. I think if a cocktail carries attractive stories, it is a good cocktail,” Kit explained.
Of course, the main character of the Challenge being Monkey Shoulder, those cocktails that brings the best of the whisky are considered brilliant ones. As Whisky Consultant & Monkey Shoulder Advocate Eddie Nara points out, Monkey Shoulder is a mix of three single malts, from Speyside full of aromas of flower, fruit and honey. A good cocktail should express these elements. Sandeep said apart from the taste, one should note that the Monkey Shoulder brand, its history and its stories can also be elements that enrich a competing cocktail. One should carefully choose ingredients that balances the flavours of the spirit.
There are not only cash awards of $10,000, $7,000 and $5,000 respectively for the top three performers, but also tickets to join other bartenders in Camp Monkey, a round-the-world bartending event which is held in Taiwan this year. Winners of the Challenge have the rare opportunity to meet outstanding mixologists from all over the greater China and perform guest bartending abroad.
凡有調酒師比賽，都是調酒師們一顯身手，甚至踏入國際舞台的好機會。今次機會來了，由蘇格蘭威士忌品牌Monkey Shoulder舉辦的香港調酒師大賽，將於今年Wine and Dine Festival及Wine & Spirits Fair舉行，各位身懷絕技的調酒師實在應該踴躍參加。
主辦單位代表，兩益市場部經理Kitty說，Monkey Shoulder已登陸香港兩年，獲不少威士忌迷認識及愛戴，而且Monkey Shoulder 因為豐富的花香和蜂蜜等味道，很適合用作雞尾酒基酒，因此認為現在正是時候，藉這個比賽，令更多人認識Monkey Shoulder豐富多彩的一面。
今次比賽的主題是「香港地、香港味」，聽起來好像很簡單，但如何才能在雞尾酒裡具體呈現呢？評審之一的《Malt and Spirits》總編輯Nelson Siu分享到，他曾見過用上維他奶和羅漢果的雞尾酒，這些本土材料讓人一口就嚐出香港味，他很欣賞。而另一位評審Sohofama 及 Ozu 酒吧顧問Kit Cheung本身是經驗豐富的調酒師，他自己也做過不少以香港為主題的雞尾酒。他認為香港味不單單指飲食，其中應該包含文化，所以無論雞尾酒呈現方式，以至調酒師本身的裝扮，所有細節也得留意。「我自己最深刻的一杯香港味作品名叫『陳皮粥』，材料用上廣東三寶：陳皮、老薑、禾桿草，裝在傳統花紋的碗裡奉客，而且望起來有濃稠的質感，確有點『粥』的感覺。若有豐富的故事讓人追問下去，我覺得就是一杯成功的雞尾酒。」Kit解釋說。
當然，比賽的主角是Monkey Shoulder，只有能將這威士忌味道盡情展現，才算是一杯精彩的雞尾酒。Whisky Consultant 及 Monkey Shoulder Advocate Eddie Nara指出，Monkey Shoulder是一款混合了三款來自 Speyside單一麥芽威士忌的調配威士忌，充滿花香、果香和蜂蜜味，一杯好的雞尾酒應該能將這些元素呈現。另一評審Sandeep認為，除了味道要注意，其實Monkey Shoulder這個品牌名稱，以及品牌的故事和歷史也可以是豐富一杯參賽雞尾酒的元素。在挑選材料時，要小心找出能與酒味平衡的適當材料。
比賽當然會有豐富獎品，Kitty指出，今次比賽除了冠亞季軍分別可以獲得一萬元、七千元和五千元的現金獎外，得獎者更可參加由Monkey Shoulder舉辦的Camp Monkey活動，這活動曾在世界各地舉行，今次將會移師台灣，集合中、港、台、澳的出色調酒師，以及今次比賽的得獎者，到台灣旅行、交流和作客席調酒師，實在是非常難得的機會。