Cover Jun of Dissolved Solids crafting cocktails. (Photos: AaronWongYS)

Five local bartenders reveal the cocktails they will make when someone says, "Surprise me!"

To celebrate World Cocktail Day, which falls on May 13 this year, we ask KL's leading bartenders the cocktails they would make that truly showcase their skills and creativity. 

See also: 2 Malaysian Bars Among Asia's 50 Best Bars 2022

David Hans, Three X Co

"This one's a tribute to Malaysia's classic national cocktail, Jungle Bird. The Jungle Bird first appeared in 1973 at the old KL Hilton as a welcoming drink and was developed by a local bartender, Jeffery Ong.
The ingredients are Jamaica rum, Campari, pineapple juice, lime juice and simple syrup. This is a cocktail with a bittersweet taste, which comes from the Campari, and a tropical touch.

My Jungle Bird (or Burung Malaya), however, is special because instead of Campari, I use the homemade Guinness Amaro as an alternative. It's a concoction of homemade Guinness liqueur that is sous vide'd with various local herbs and spices and blended with various aperitifs. Guinness beloved by many here. In the early years at local restaurants, it was very common to see senior citizens having a pint of Guinness stout after work. 

This cocktail will impress you not only with its taste, but also with the flavour pairing of the liqueurs with the fragrant smell of burnt pandan."

See also: 3 Bars in Malaysia Made Asia's 50 Best Bars' 51-100 2022 List

Zac Ch'ng, Backdoor Bodega

"Normally, I would ask the customer the kind of drink they'd want to try, but if they are good with anything, then I’d make them our version of mojito which is called Ulam U-rum.

It is made of torched ginger infused with white rum, homemade Ulam syrup, lime blend, and Co2. The ulam makes for a more unique and refreshing flavour. It’s an easy drink and is one of our most popular drinks."

See also: 6 Trendy Bars in George Town, Penang for a Cocktail

Darwin Ng, Jann

"The cocktail is called Reminisce. It's bitter, sweet and packs a punch! This cocktail consists of monk fruit and longan vodka, coffee whisky and gin. Here's a little personal story: Reminisce connects the past and the present. One of my best memories is queuing up for air mata kucing in Chinatown when I was growing up. Fast forward to now, cocktail bars are booming in the area! Hence, this is a cocktail that combines all of my favourite memories of the area."

See also: World Bartender Day 2022: Mixologists to Watch in Kuala Lumpur

Jun, Dissolved Solids

"The Tesseract is a drink with simple presentation but possesses super complex flavours with  four flavour dimensions, hence the name Tesseract.

I chose this because it is a cocktail for people who seek unique flavours and wishes to experience a progressive drinking experience as the cocktail dilutes. Profile-wise, it is distinctively different from usual cocktail profiles. The Tesseract features smoky, fruity, savoury, and velvet textures."

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Megan Lim, BAC

"I would make one of our signatures, DTF @ BAC. It's made with Mackintosh fat-washed toasted rice and miso, Mackintosh whiskey, seaweed kombucha and wakame kombucha. 

It is one of our experimental cocktails that uses the fat wash technique and has an umami flavour profile. Inspired by Japanese cuisine, some say it reminds them of sushi, thanks to the combination of miso, toasted rice, umami and seaweed."

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