ROUND THREE, DING DING DING!!
The gloves are well and truly off now we’re into the third heat of our Live Naked Experience: Bar Swap competition. For this round, we brought Korea’s top bartending talent together for two days of mixology, mingling, and mind-blowing cocktail creativity!
If you’ve been following the competition so far, you’ll know there’s two parts to the challenge: wow us with an off-the-walls Unconventional Naked Sour recipe and make a magic mix using only ingredients from our surprise mystery box!
Six pairs of Korea’s top bartenders battled it out before our judges, showcasing their culture, creativity, and masterful mixology techniques!
The competition was close, but Villa Records cinched the top spot with their heavy-hitting unconventional cocktail, the Barley Transparent Sour. We caught up with Yeongjun, General Manager of Villa Records, together with main bartender D.O(Hyundo) for the inside scoop on their success story.
So, fellas, how did you come up with your winning Unconventional Sour “BTS”?
Preparing for this competition, we gave a lot of thought to what ‘unconventional’ really means. Then, one day, I had an idea. Not to just use new or creative ingredients to break from tradition, but to really return to the essence of the original whisky sour in a different way. We decided to take a completely new approach to the classic whisky sour.
To make our unconventional whisky sour, we made barley milk from Naked Malt, barley and oak. Then we made a shrub by adding Oreo saccharum, lemon and raw sugar to sherry wine vinegar. This works really well with one of the most prominent flavours in Naked Malt — the first-fill Oloroso sherry cask.
We then finished our unconventional Naked Sour — Barley Transparent Sour (BTS) — by adding oak bitters and a garnish made from barley, lemon, and sugar.
Why do you think Naked Malt works so well in serves like yours?
All the ingredients used in BTS were reinterpretations of the core ingredients and tasting notes of Naked Malt. We used milk-washed homemade barley milk, sherry & lemon shrub to make a Naked mix that perfectly harmonized with Naked Malt’s own flavour profile.
How did you find the national competition? What were the best parts about the competition?
It was very different from any other competition! Once we made it to the camp, there were loads of activities for us to get stuck into, like surfing, yoga, a BBQ party, and the bartender challenge. It was very unconventional — just like Naked Malt!
Looking back, the best part was being able to meet and hang out with all 12 bartenders who work in different places in Korea.
What are you looking forward to the most in your 2022 Bar Swap?
We’re really looking forward to the Bar Swap — experiencing the cultures and ingredients of different countries in different continents… It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In addition, we’re looking forward to being able to maintain a better community in our own neck of the woods. Bar Swap isn’t just a global competition, it also helped us to get to know some of the other top bars and bartenders in our own country.
What do you enjoy the most about working at Villa Records?
Villa Records is a very unique bar. It’s a furniture store showroom during the daytime and a bar in the evening.
In fact, we have been expanding the bar market and promoting ourselves by collaborating with various cosmetic, perfume and accessory brands as well as dessert cafes and restaurants.
Most recently, we carried out a project to upcycle masks, which is a hot topic due to COVID-19. This is a good example of one of our real strengths — we don’t limit ourselves as a bar, or as bartenders.
The fact that we can always take on new challenges while enjoying good teamwork with our colleagues is the reason we love working at Villa Records.
What are the best and most challenging things about doing what you do?
Being a bartender is a rewarding but difficult career. I love the saying: being a bartender is not a job but a life. We experience many happy and difficult moments in life, but it’s difficult to specifically pinpoint the best and the worst. Because we’re constantly experiencing new things, all mixed together.
I always tell my teammates that our goal is to make this place better today than it was yesterday, so that today's customers can end their day more pleasantly than they did yesterday.
It may sound a bit abstract, but if you think that meeting a wide variety of customers and preparing the best drink for them is rewarding in itself, isn't it worth working hard to achieve your goals just as well?
What’s next for Villa Records bar?
Villa Records celebrates its 3rd birthday in April 2022. It took a lot of effort to establish ourselves in Korea’s growing bar scene and get to where we are now. And we’ll never stop putting our full heart and soul into the place. The next event we have planned is our 3rd birthday party, and the aforementioned mask upcycle collaboration is coming too. We also have plans to hold a Naked Malt masterclass in Korea as the winning team.
To keep up to date with all the latest goings-on at Villa Records following their win, follow them at @Villa_Records_Bar.
We’ve now got three winners in the bag: A Bar Called Gemma from the Nordics, Vender from Taiwan, and now Villa Records from Korea. Once we’ve crowned all our regional winners, they’ll each be able to embark on international bar swaps!
Stay tuned for our next tournament, where we’ll be putting master mixologists from the UK through their paces…
The Naked Team