In Five on Ice, we ask a personality in the beverage industry about anything, be it new opening, tips, or experiences, over a casual chit-chat in five questions.
Veteran bartender Shawn Chong has been running bar courses for quite some time. Bar Class Academy Asia (previously RAD Impressions) which was founded by Chong and partner, Jillian Toyad, is bringing beverage education to professionals and consumers alike.
The revamped bar education program is in full swing starting with a weekly two-day Junior Edition bartender course from 22nd February 2020. Its aim is to make learning about alcohol and cocktails accessible to industry practitioners and consumers, in order to raise the overall drinking standards.
We find out what you can learn from the award-winning bartender who has shadowed the legendary Ueno Hidetsugu of Bar High Five, and a couple of other related questions.
T: Why did you start Bar Class Academy Asia?
SC: Bar Class Academy Asia was established to act as a platform where people can learn about cocktails and all alcohol related subjects. With the bar industry in Malaysia growing, education has to be one of the pillars to support it. Combining my professional experience as a bartender and a former university lecturer, it felt right to start an academy with a focus.
T: What can I learn from your class(es)?
SC: Currently, participants can learn the very basics of bartending through our Junior Bartender course. The subjects covered are to offer a foundation for continued learning. Upon completion of the 2-day course, students should have a basic grasp on understanding spirits and other alcohol categories. They should also be equipped with the know-how to prepare the bar before it starts operations - making syrup, squeezing juices and also how to take more care with the ice being used. Along the course of the year we will be featuring more subjects that aim to cover a broader spectrum of the beverage world.
T: Which drink looks simple to make but is most difficult to achieve perfection?
SC: The Dry Martini. The reason is that although the cocktail only comprises of 2 ingredients, the choice of ingredients can greatly influence the final result. If it's gin, if a London Dry style is used versus a fresh style, the Martini will taste vastly different. Different vermouths have different sugar content and botanical makeup and thus influences the finish of the cocktail. The garnish too plays a part. Full olives, pitted olives, stuffed olives or even a pickled onion can greatly change the experience of drinking a Dry Martini.
T: Favourite shaking technique? Why?
SC: Japanese shake. It is rhythmic and helps me achieve what I'm looking for in a drink - balance.
T: Best song to drink to?
SC: This is a tough one... I guess anything from Tom Misch sends the right vibes for drinking.
If you are looking to have parties curated around drinks, Bar Class Academy Asia can help with fixing some unique experiences that make you the queen or king of parties. Reach them at their Facebook page.