It’s time for round two in the Live Naked Experience: Bar Swap; our global event series that brings together some of the world’s best bartenders for a unique exploration of cultures, creativity and, of course, cocktails.
This time we headed to Taiwan, where we hosted the highest cocktail competition in the world for their national finale event.
We set the participants a challenge of creating an ‘Unconventional Naked Sour’, which they then presented to a panel of judges. They also took part in the Mystery Box Challenge, which asks bartenders to use random ingredients found inside a mystery box to create a totally unique drink.
Seven pairs of Taiwan’s top bartenders went head-to-head on Mintuyu and astounded us with amazing Naked Sour serves that showcased their heritage, their innovation, and their mixology talents.
It was a hotly contested challenge but ultimately, Darren Lim and Summer Chen from Vender won the day by dazzling our judges with ‘Genesis’, their unconventional apple Naked Sour inspired by Adam and Eve, to win the national championship.
So Summer and Darren, congratulations! How did you come up with your winning Unconventional Sour ‘Genesis’?
We started with our favourite classic sour, the New York Sour, took its basic formula and broke it down part by part. We then worked on each individual part and to ensure all of them pair well with different layers of Naked Malt.
The first part was to create a unique sour component. Fortunately for us, Taiwan produces flavourful apples! We decided to go with the lower PH green apples and increased its acidity with malic acid. For the sweet component, we wanted to do more than just making our own syrups. So, we worked with our pastry chef to create a fig confiture that not only goes well with the apple juice, but also enhances the fruity notes of Naked Malt. Lastly, to introduce the red wine component, we created a red wine foam infused with spices to complement Naked Malt’s Sherry finish.
Why do you think Naked Malt works so well in serves like yours?
Every ingredient used in our cocktail “Genesis” complements the different notes of Naked Malt. Apples and figs bring out the fruity notes of Naked Malt perfectly, while the spiced red wine foam enhances the Sherry notes.
How did you find the national competition? What were the best parts about the competition?
For us, placing heavy emphasis on teamwork is the most unique and best part about the competition. Most competitions just require an individual to perform well, but this competition requires both individuals to work as one. Not forgetting the competition is being held on top of a mountain 1800m above sea level, which definitely represents Naked Malt’s liberating spirit!
What are you looking forward to the most in your 2022 Bar Swap?
Traveling and bartending in different environments, in different bars. I look forward to seeing the different cultures as well, and how they are incorporated into cocktails.
What do you enjoy the most about working at Vender?
There’s no such thing as working in Vender! Though we are working, it does not feel like it because it’s more like a group of friends together, who happen to meet new friends across the bar.
When and how did you and Summer first meet?
We first met in Singapore through a local competition. As both of us were taking part, I took the initiative to drop her a message saying, “all the best”, and that’s how it all started.
What are the best and most challenging things about doing what you do?
Best is the interaction with guests and managing their requests. As mentioned above, we are not really working in Vender, but instead it feels like we are meeting new friends every day. But as different guests have different personalities, switching different tactics to interact with different guests can be very challenging. That’s on top of providing great service and cocktails!
What’s next for Vender?
Thanks to the sponsorship from Naked Malt, we are expecting a Buchi Rotary Evaporator by May. With this laboratory equipment, we can bring our cocktail menu to a whole new level. We are also working towards building Vender into a brand, and plan to open several outlets in different countries in the future!
Thanks Darren and Summer! Check out Darren’s and Summer’s Sour Tape below for more on their journey and their incredible Unconventional Naked Sour 👇
You can follow and keep up to date with everything at Vender bar here 👉 @venderbar
Vender Bar joins the winner of the Nordic region, which was won by Stockholm-based A Bar Called Gemma, and both sets of winners will eventually take part in swapping bars together with other champions around the world for an incredible cultural immersion experience. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will allow bartenders to expand their knowledge, build new relationships, learn new skills and discover new ingredients, flavours and techniques.
Keep your eyes peeled for the other competing region competitions, coming soon... 👀
The Naked Team