Diageo Reserve World Class Finals

There was a cool competition among Malaysia’s best bartenders at The Bee recently, the Haig Club Pop-Up Bar Challenge, where top barmen faced-off to select the four who went to the South East Asian Finals in Bangkok last week.

And Shawn Chong from Omakase+Appreciate won a couple of titles: Best Bartender South East Asia, as well as winning the Speed Round Challenge – where he made 9 cocktails in 8 minutes!

Shawn was the Boozepimp of the Month on this blog way back in 2011.

Shawn with his booty (pix by Ryan Tann)

Shawn with his booty (pix by Ryan Tann)

As far as the Malaysian leg is concerned, this is the third time Shawn has won. He will now represent at the Global Finals which will be held in  South Africa, versus 49 of the world’s top bartenders.

The Malaysian leg saw 12 of the country’s mix kings battle out to create cocktails that were judged to be the best, with each creating one iconic cocktail featuring Haig Club whisky.

It’s kinda tough creating good cocktails from Scotch due to its flavours. I guess the Haig Club would be a better choice as it’s quite neutral in flavours.

Joel of The View Bar telling his cocktail's story to judges

Joel of The View Bar telling his cocktail’s story to judges

I didnt get to try all the cocktails the boys made, but my fave was a really unique mix – called Grassie Goat – Haig Club, goat’s milk, peppermint liqueur, bannoffee curd, & mint leaf. A unique combination of exotic flavours, perfectly-balanced. Nothing close to anything I’ve ever tried. It was made by Naresh, of Prego in The Westin KL.

Shawn made Siamese Link, – a spicy-savoury cocktail made with Haig Club, Siamese paprika syrup and lime juice garnished with pandan jelly.

The Siamese Link

The Siamese Link

The other winners were M. Hanafi of Prego, The Westin; Osmund Illah of Hubba Hubba (KL); and Insan Sharily of Tate, The Intermark (KL).

The lucky four

The lucky four

There were also a couple of bartendresses who were making guests cocktails.


Award-winning Angel Ng and Diageo World Class Malaysia 2014 champ Yin Ying

 Brain damage: 8/10


Boozepimp of the Month – Yi Shawn

Boozepimp of the Month is a column that features respectable players in the alcohol industry. These are interesting personalities in the scene that have made a significant impact, or have the potential to do so.

(If u know of a candidate, u can lemme know).

It’s been a long time since i did the Boozepimp thing! Got a few more lined up.


The Boozepimp of the month is bartender Chong Yi Shawn, 25.

He’s the local champ of the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartending Competition 2011, and represented Malaysia this year, where he performed in New Delhi last month (It was won by Manabu Ohtake, from Tower’s Bar Bellovisto, Tokyo, whittled down from 10,000 around the world).

Winning the local competition gave  Shawn three months training. He’s won it twice so far.

He was a hospitality student who worked with Hilton KL in a restaurant before moving to the bar. Shawn is basically self-taught, learning on the job and via YouTube.

He might not look like one, with the specs n all, but he is a bartender. Shawn is currently freelancing.


1. So why did u become a bartender?

I enjoy it as it’s not a static job. You meet different people, make different drinks. Everyday is different. I like making drinks and making guests happy. Communication is important.


2. Yea man, communication and service. How was the event in New Delhi?

It was awesome. Four days. They treated the 34 of us like superstars.


3. Nice. If it was me, i wouldnt remember a damn thing. What were u judged on?

It was challenging. There were six challenges in total. Some of the criteria were the drinks we made, communication skills, product knowledge, technical skills, grooming and presentation.


4. So wadya think are your strengths and weaknesses as a barman

I think i’m very willing to learn, and i’m a fast learner. Weakness, maybe a lack of experience.

In competition

5. What kinds of cocktails do u like to drink and make?

Thus far i’ve created about 15-20. I like something i call Ignited Passion – Ron Zacapa rum, Grand Marnier, blackberry jam, home-made syrup, and lime and cranberry juice.


6. And you fave drinks?

Rum n Coke, Cuba Libre, Margharita, and cider.


7. Cider eh? Will let u try my brew sometime. And what cocktail would you recommend if someone wants something that tastes good, light-tasting on the alcohol, and gets them high in a hurry?

Hmm. I think Mai Tai, tho the recipe has been bastardized. The original is rum, lime juice, triple sec, and almond syrup. Or the Zombie.


8. How often do you drink and how many?

About once a month, with other bartenders.


9. What do u like about alcohol?

It’s unlimited what you can do with it.


10. Yea man. So many varieties. And what are the global trends for cocktails at the mo?

Looks like the Classic Cocktails are making a comeback.



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