Last week, the South East Asia Diageo World Class Final took place in Alila Resort Bali. The competition was to choose the best in South East Asia and at the same time, select one bartender from each country to compete in the Global World Class set in Miami this September.
29 bartenders from seven countries across Southeast Asia were to challenge each other at the beautiful resort through making cocktails and… a paper test.
Four Malaysian bartenders: Joel John Timis (Sparrow), Osmund Bernard (IKKI @ TREC KL), Boy Labib (Tate by B.I.G.) and Jeffri Sulaiman (Enfin by James Won) along with their tools and ingredients were flown to the mystical island to battle out for the place to represent Malaysia.
On the first day, the bartenders were given 4 minutes in each challenge to make 2 servings of the drinks.
Challenge 1: Five Star Classic that requires a classic with a twist
Judges: Aubrey Sim, Steve Leong (SEA World Class 2015 Winner), Tim Philips (World Class 2012 Global Winner), Eric Lorincz (World Class 2010 Global Winner).
Challenge 2: Local Favour Challenge uses Ketel One Vodka
Judges: Charles Joly (World Class 2014 Global Winner), David Rios (World Class 2013 Global Winner), Lam Chee Mun (Diageo Bar Academy Director), and Dennis Tamse (Global Ambassador for Ketel One)
The elimination challenges put 14 bartenders through to the next day and Osmund Bernard and Jeffri Sulaiman for the Malaysia team were chosen.
The day started with a Mystery Challenge followed by Cocktails Against The Clock Challenge.
Challenge 3: Mystery Challenge (a 45 minutes paper test)
The test that covers 10% of the overall score came in 2 categories: product knowledge and blind tasting. The latter was where 9 different spirits were provided and the bartenders had to name the spirits group and brand.
Challenge 4: Cocktails Against The Clock
Bartenders were isolated in a room without communication to the outside (including no phone) and were called one by one to do a speed round. Total 6 classic cocktails were ordered by the six judges and the bartenders were given 4 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to make the drinks. No score would be given to anyone making less than 4 cocktails.
“We didn’t know how the bar was setup and had limited time to learn about it when it’s our turn. It made me feel like it was my first day bartending but I kept telling myself, ‘it’s just another day at work’ to get through the challenge.” said Jeffri.
After the end of Day 2, Osmund Bernard from IKKI @ TREC KL took the crown of Malaysia’s best and will be representing Malaysia in the Global Final this September. Osmund implemented culinary inspirations into his local flavour drink, Kayanusa. The idea came from the Sabahan’s hometown dish, Mee Soto, that is served during festivities such as Kaamatan and Gawai. The spicy soup noodle dish has different versions in different parts of the region and Osmund’s showcased the Sabahan’s version with his own home-made soto syrup.
“I started cooking for my family since 10 because I didn’t want to go to work at the padi field.” The 28 year-old winner explained where he learned to cook. Osmund also served a classic Pegu Club with a Malaysian twist that incorporates a spicy syrup with sambal ikan bilis (shrimp paste chili with anchovies). “Instead of using Malaysian dessert or drinks flavour to make my drink, I chose the savoury and meaty flavour, which is unusual in cocktails.”
Asked which the most challenging part in the competition was, the mechanical engineering graduate reminisced, “It was the blind tasting, I had to remember all the tastings I have done before and complete them within the set time, it was tough.”
We asked the bartenders what they took away from the competition and we heard “work hard, team work, improve skills, learning from others” and that sums up that in order to be better, bartenders have to work hard and with each other in order to grow. We wish them all the best in their career and here they share their thoughts and recipes with us:
“Discipline and thinking out of the box have paid off for becoming the World Class Malaysia champion and it feels awesome!” – Osmund Bernand
Challange 1: Pegu Club with Malaysian twist.
Tanquery London Dry
Homemade Malayan Liqueur
Citrus Mix Juice
Homemade Spices Syrup
Serve with Sambal Bilis on the side.
Challenge 2: Kayanusa using Malaysian flavour
Ketel One Vodka
The drink is inspired by Kaamatan and Gawai Celebration, a form of harvest festival.
Read also: Osmund Bernard's World Class Recipes
“I believe in working hard, being persistent and believing in your and your team’s ability to advance. (And damn, those cute models (in the after party) love to party!)” – Jeffri Sulaiman
Challenge 1: The Finesse
Tanqueray London Dry Gin
Raspberry Infused Vermouth
Challenge 2: Head Hunters’ Mule
Kaffir Lime Leaf
“I learned from other contestants by talking to them. It helps to improve my communication skills and build confidence before presenting to the judges.” – Joel John Timis
Challenge 1: Tea Tarik Satu
Concentrated Milk Tea
Ketel One Vodka
Challenge 2: Tangroni Blanc
Cointreau infused Andrographi Paniculata Plant (King of Bitters)
Tanqueray London Dry
“This is the second year in World Class for me and it’s an advantage because I know most of the people from last year. They gave me a lot of motivation and support. It is less stressful when you are thinking about learning from others and improving yourself than about winning.” – Boy Labib
Challenge 1: Teh Tarik Halia
Ketel One Infused Local Tea
Local Tea Liquid
Challenge 2: Singgang (A traditional Malay dish served with fish, sour and spicy soup)
London Dry Gin Infused with tamarind, tumeric, lemon grass and ginger