For the first time in Malaysia, Opihr Gin has opened the market to their annual cocktail competition. After a day-long competition, three winners were announced to compete for Malaysia at the regional finals.
Winners Giri Pancha of Hilton KL, Amar Pawaka of Mish Mash Penang, and Chris Danial of P&C Cocktail Lounge ranked first, second, and third respectively, out of 16 contestants from across Malaysia.
Held at the Bowery in Publika, each bartender was tasked with preparing two cocktails: their spin on the classic G&T, and an original signature serve for Opihr Gin inspired by the gin’s spirit of adventure and the exotic. They were given strict time limits for bar preparation (5 minutes), mixing (7 minutes), and clean up (3 minutes), while they demonstrated their knowledge on Opihr, as well as the story behind their gin cocktails.
The competition was judged by Joe Milner, Business Development Consultant of Quintessential Brands (distributor for Opihr Gin); Kim Choong, Editor of Thirst Mag; and Erik Fiza, Beverage Manager at Suzie Wong.
Each bartender was ranked out of 300 points, and competition was so close that the scores for those in third to seventh position were all within 10 points of each other. “The level of bartending in Malaysia is really high,” Joe Milner said at the end, adding his thoughts on how the regional finals will play out, “My opinion? Between Malaysia and Hong Kong.”
Editor Kim Choong made a similar comment, saying “I’m so impressed with your [the bartenders’] performance today. In fact it was so hard to pick the top three…You have done fantastically. I’m so proud of you.”
This is the fourth year of the international competition, which was expanded to include bartenders from Australia, Hong Kong, and Germany. Malaysia joins Vietnam, Indonesia, and Hong Kong participating in the Asian finals on 19 July, hosted at Mr Chew’s Chino Latino Bar at WOLO Hotel; and while other countries in the region contribute two finalists, Malaysia will have three as a token of thanks from Opihr for being the host country. One overall winner will be sent to represent Asia at the global finals in Marrakesh, Morocco, in September this year.