Two cocktails made with the Thai rum will kick off next week’s gourmet awards event
Guests at the first Michelin Guide Awards ceremony to be held in Thailand will begin the evening on Wednesday (December 6) sampling the “amazing and weird knowledge” of two outstanding Bangkok bartenders.
Nanthawit Sameepak and Chaiyasit Pratumsud earned the chance to share their concoctions with the gourmet Michelin crowd by winning the recent Mekhong Thai Spirit Cocktails contest.
At the “Reach for the Stars” gala dinner at the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, Nanthawit Sameepak – who plies his trade at Baan Suriyasai – will be serving Koon Suek, and Chaiyasit of the Tep Bar will brandish a cocktail named Thong.
“There are no boundaries to this amazing and weird knowledge,” enthuses Nanthawit, 30. “A bartender has the freedom to do whatever he wants in creating a cocktail, but at the same time must also please the customer."
Nanthawit won the Mekhong contest by making a cocktail onstage that was actually invented by Khongpol Meesook, the bar manager of Baan Suriyasai. Koon Suek is made with Mekhong, the famous Thai rum, Vermouth Extra Dry, red wine, lemongrass, sweet basil, lime and syrup.
“Mekhong reminds me in its character of an ancient Siamese warrior drinking nam jan before a battle so he’d be brave and fierce,” explains Khongpol. “The wine gives the cocktail its fierce red colour and the astringent taste of the vermouth represents the warrior’s toughness and impulsiveness.
“For such a ruthless killer, the taste has to be strong. While complex vermouth harmonises well with Mekhong, the wine can be a Merlot or Cabernet house wine – rather smooth and helping build the drink’s character. The lemongrass and basil add fragrance and the lime and syrup ensure a full flavour.”
Chaiyasit, 28, learned the ropes from the online lessons of master bartender Luca Cinalli. His Thong cocktail – Mekhong, ripe mango, lime, natural honey, coconut sugar, dill and egg white – was already popular at the Tep Bar before Chaiyasit took it into competition.
“The name refers to the ‘golden age of the Siamese Kingdom’, when there was prosperity, advanced culture and great fertility in the land and the human mind,” he says. “But the original inspiration came when a foreign customer mentioned that his favourite Thai dessert was sticky rice and ripe mango.
“Mekhong can be blended with any Thai fruit, but you have to understand the different characteristics of the fruit. I chose mango because it’s so well known as a Thai fruit and can be eaten anytime of year. The honey gives the cocktail sweetness and fragrance, the coconut sugar has a rich oiliness, and the whites of pasteurised egg feel wonderfully creamy on the tongue.”
“For more than 76 years, Mekhong has been proud to represent Thainess to the world through its unique flavour,” says Sansiri Yodmeungcharoen, assistant marketing director of Thai Beverage.
“The Mekhong Thai Spirit Cocktails campaign was another milestone we’re proud of, because it will take Mekhong to a whole new level in the global culinary arena.
“The unique charm of Mekhong begins with the ingredients. Molasses and the tips of glutinous rice are refined using traditional methods, then fused with Thai herbs and spices according to a secret recipe,” she says. “This gives the spirit its own unique flavour and aroma.
“When used as a base in a cocktail, Mekhong offers an outstanding sensory experience. The success of Mekhong speaks of the brand’s ability to transcend time and stay relevant. When you introduce other ingredients as in a cocktail, especially Southeast Asian flavours, the result is a remarkable drink that’s fantastic to enjoy on its own or to complement any meal.”