Weekender chats with international mixologists Laurent Greco and Gareth Evans on 2016’s cocktail trends, their favourite local bars and more
By Samantha Francis
Singapore Cocktail Week may have just concluded after a calendar of masterclasses and pop-up bars but the cocktail trends unveiled remain fascinating.
I was fortunate enough to catch two international mixologists in between their busy stints for a chat on the trends that have elevated the cocktail and bartending scene this year.
Laurent Greco, Master Mixologist of Perrier, also shares what makes him a “Liquid Chef” while Gareth Evans, Global Brand Ambassador of Absolut Elyx spills the beans on his favourite bars in Singapore.
Gareth Evans frequents The Cufflink Club, 28 Hong Kong Street and Gibson Bar.
Hi, Gareth. How did you start as a mixologist?
Gareth: I’d love to say that it’s because I always wanted to be in charge of flavours but it was to impress a girl. I eventually found that I was very good at [bartending] — it didn’t seem like work; talking to people, messing around with the bottles behind the bars and showing off.
Laurent Greco, the “Liquid Chef”, lives in Paris and owns the Mojito Lab bar, where people can enjoy creative mojito cocktails made from various techniques proposed by him.
Hi, Laurent. You’ve been called a “Liquid Chef”. What makes someone so?
Laurent: “Liquid Chef” is actually a term I coined for myself because of my experience in the kitchen when I was in culinary school.
But this is more than just mixing drinks: I loved being behind the bar too! It allows me to interact and entertain guests, so that I can leave them a good experience and impression.
What are some cocktail trends in 2016? Which are those you’re most excited about?
Gareth: Speaking about the 2016 cocktail trend gets me excited. There will be greater highlight on non-alcoholic cocktails and I love the idea of giving new life to mocktails!
Laurent: We’re seeing a lot more fortified wines and punch (drinks containing fruit or fruit juice). What I really like is less of a trend but a movement: People starting to use seasonal ingredients and quality, local produce more sensibly.
I’m always excited about creative cocktails, seeing people use unusual ingre-dients, but for a good reason. I went to the bar Operation Dagger and they use strange Asian ingredients with different preparation methods; it was really impressive and cool.
When you’re not busy mixing a drink, where do you head to for a drink yourself?
Gareth: In Singapore, I frequent The Cufflink Club, 28 Hong Kong Street as well as Gibson Bar.
Laurent: If I am craving for an alcoholic drink, I’ll usually go for a mojito, the classic goodness, which is one of my favourite mixed drinks.
What makes a good cocktail?
Laurent: Besides having an optimal balance of ingredients, a good cocktail is also defined by the experience it gives. It creates a sensory experience not just for the taste buds but also the eyes and nose.
A variation of The Golden Triangle by “Liquid Chef” Laurent Greco
How should one go about ordering a bespoke cocktail?
Gareth: That’s what bartenders are for. Just talk to the bartender and say what you like or don’t.
Be open-minded. Quite often, you hear people say, “I don’t want anything to taste too strong.” But the word “strong” doesn’t really mean what they think it means. If it’s a well-made cocktail, it won’t taste overly-spirited.
How would your dream bar look, and what would it serve?
Gareth: My dream bar changes every time, depending on where I am. Right now, I’m feeling quite sleepy and I’d like it to be a li’l shack on a Bali beach just serving simple, quality drinks and nice food.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 151, April 29 – May 12, 2016, with the headline ‘Of liquid chefs & cocktail trends’.