...and when it comes to cocktails, there are few better experiences than the annual Diageo World Class competition, which sees bartenders globally competing in a range of events for the title of "World Class Bartender of the Year".
So, when an e-mail from MHDHK arrived, inviting us to the launch of David Rios' new Martini menu at the stunning aqua spirit Hong Kong, it wasn't like we were about to say no... (David of course, being the 2013 winner, who took the place of 2012 winner Tim Phillips, whose Bulletin Place bar in Sydney was coincidentally the first bar we ever reviewed on this site!)
The event was to celebrate the launch of a new exclusive menu of four martinis, developed as a collaboration between aqua and David Rios and served in bespoke glassware, available only at aqua spirit from now until the end of June.
Almost instantly on arrival at Aqua Spirit's 30th floor location, we were handed the first cocktail - a Vermouthcito Time, consisting of Tanqueray No. TEN, dry vermouth, red vermouth, orange liquer, orange bitters and an olive, served over a hand carved ice ball. Whilst not usually a martini drinker, this was one cocktail I'd happily request a second time, and was not entirely dissimilar to a white Negroni (a regular Negroni being one of my favourite non-whisk(e)y cocktails).
Next up was the more traditional Eastern Martini, made with Tanqueray No. TEN, manzanilla sherry, lychee liquer, a line twist, olives and almonds, served in a coupette. Designed to pay homage to the "enjoyment of Sherry by expats in Hong Kong in bygone years", the cocktail was a sweeter take on the martini, but equally as enjoyable as the first.
Before long, it was time for David to present his signature cocktail (also on the menu) - the Smell. David took charge of the bar and (with just the right amount of showmanship) showed us how he creates this aromatic take on the martini, made with Tanqueray No. TEN, dry vemouth, bianco vermouth, lime bitters, a twist of lime and served in a "lavender fog". Visually stunning, and when enjoyed from the signature metal, stemless cone-shaped vessel (above), a fantastic experience - made all the more impressive by aqua spirit's stunning backdrop (honestly, no-one could ever tire of that view).
The night, which saw guests mingling, chatting to David, enjoying martinis and soaking in the view, was a brilliant, intimate launch and a perfect way to sample the new menu.
The new martini menu is available now at aqua spirit, and will end at the end of June.
Steph & Martin.