What does “spring” taste like? A tantalising medley of floral tones? Maybe a burst of freshness that leaves you wanting more. Perhaps it’s a lingering aftertaste of delicate flavours where nothing else matters except for that moment.
This is what premium Japanese Craft Gin Roku Gin from the House of Suntory hopes you will experience through its latest taste collaboration with 10 of Klang Valley’s top bars and restaurants, celebrating Spring and all that it brings with unique flavour pairings. From now till 31st May 2022, cocktail lovers can visit these different establishments for a special spring experience as interpreted by creative bartenders.
The flavour delight begins with Roku Gin’s key botanical, the prized sakura flower. Harvested only at the peak of spring for maximum quality and flavour, this iconic flower gives Roku Gin its signature delicate floral aroma and sweet body. Using the centuries-old tradition of Monozukuri in the detailed process of harvesting, infusing and distilling the gin, Roku Gin’s artisans then combine the sweet floral aroma of sakura with Sencha and Gyokuro teas, rounding up the flavour with a refreshing Yuzu top note and a crisp, slightly spicy finish from Japanese Sansho Pepper.
When you have such complex yet harmonious flavours as the base, anything is possible with Roku Gin! These 10 bartenders certainly agree as they share their Roku Gin cocktail creations, the inspiration, and what spring means to them.
Alex Cheah, Beta KL
“Spring is a season of hope and new beginnings. It’s when plants start to grow and blossom in our garden and you can see butterflies all around,” says Beta KL’s co-owner Alex Cheah. It’s no surprise then why he named his Roku Gin cocktail Blossom, which has all the elements of spring: Refreshing, floral and fruity. “To complement the unique flavour of Roku Gin, I paired it with peach liqueur and rose syrup with the umami essence of shitake bitters to give the cocktail a refreshing yet frothy texture,” explains Alex.
Find out about Beta KL here: https://www.betakl.com/
Marcus Kwok, Bar Trigona
Reminiscing spring as a season of love, Bar Trigona’s bartender Marcus Kwok named his Roku Gin cocktail Love at First Sight. “Spring is the time for love and happiness. When you sip the cocktail, I hope it will transport you back to memories of your first love,” says Marcus.
The cocktail is a unique pairing of Roku Gin, Trigona honey and strawberries, which Marcus says reminds him of his first love with its fresh, sweet flavours and a gorgeous hue of pink. “Roku Gin has a unique floral and citrusy top note with a yuzu-forward body and slightly spicy finish. It makes the cocktail clean, crisp and elegant. It’s perfect if you want something sweet and refreshing!” says Marcus.
Find out more about Bar Trigona here: https://www.fourseasons.com/kualalumpur/dining/lounges/bar-trigona/
Mon, Concubine KL
Mon’s Roku Gin creation, There is a Cherry for Each Concubine, is a pairing of Roku Gin with maraschino, lemon, grenadine syrup and egg white, the last ingredient guaranteed to take everyone by surprise! “It’s the perfect combination because of Roku Gin’s complex, multi-layered yet harmonious flavours of various botanicals especially cherry blossom that provides a floral and sweet aroma.” He also created two other cocktails with a local twist: Sandakan with bunga kantan cordial and Aperol, Prosecco and soda, and Sirap Bandung with rose water, clarified condensed milk, rose petal and rose-infused Roku Gin.
For Mon, spring reminds him of blossoming flowers marking the arrival of warmer days. “Leaves growing again on long deserted trees, flowers populating the fields, people in parks, open-air gathering, and music in the streets. Life during spring is indeed blossoming,” says Mon. Which is no wonder why his creation is a blossoming of flavours with every sip!
John Chowdury, PS150
Spring too means a new beginning for PS150’s Head Bartender John Chowdury. “Fresh buds bloom, animals awaken, and the earth seem to come to life again,” says the bartender. His spring memory involves a trip to Bali where he drank martini and sidecar all day long.
John’s homage to Spring is a sparkling Elderflower Fizz, which consists of only four ingredients: Elderflower liqueur, sparkling wine, lemon juice and of course, Roku Gin. “Roku Gin is perfect for my creation because of its floral and citrusy notes. Citrus, floral and botanical flavours come together harmoniously in this cocktail. This is Spring in a glass, elevated by the elegant floral notes of Roku Gin,” says John.
Find out more about PS150 here: https://www.ps150.my/
Karen Yuen, Reka:Bar
Want something simple yet memorable? You’re in luck then as Reka: Bar bartender Karen Yuen has created a Roku Gin cocktail that she says perfectly symbolises the simplicity and bliss many of us crave for. “Simple flavours bring impactful experiences. Like Roku Gin’s delicate floral notes but with a complex multi-layered flavour profile that is the perfect base to create the most wonderful cocktails,” says Karen.
Recommending it to those who want a crisp, fruity and floral twist of a martini, Karen’s creation which she named Tokyo no Haru consists of sakura secco vermouth, fruit liqueur, Yuzu paint and Roku Gin. Karen’s creation brings her back to a joyful spring memory that coincidentally also revolves around cherry blossoms. “It was spring 2019 and I was in Melbourne. My mum, who has not travelled since giving birth to me, came to visit. I wanted to make it special for her and I brought her to the annual Blossom Festival at Cherry Hill Farm. It was a short cherry blossom blooming period but it was a sight to behold. It was so beautiful, and my mother and I enjoyed our time there,” says Karen.
Darwin Ng, Jann’s Bar
Spring for Darwin Ng is all about “a new beginning, a celebration of a new chapter.” The Head Bartender likens spring with him working in Chinatown where Jann’s Bar is located. “We see a new beginning for Chinatown, with the younger generation growing and reshaping Chinatown,” says Darwin.
It’s no wonder then why his creation for the Roku Gin collaboration pays homage to Chinatown. Named Bloom, it is a combination of rose vermouth, aromatic bitters, soda and citric with Asian-inspired ingredients like ginger spice, rose flower tea and butterfly pea flower tea. The result is a mesmerising two-toned cocktail that looks just as impressive as it tastes. “This cocktail is created to celebrate the blooming of the local hospitality scene, with a hint of Chinatown in it,” says Darwin.
Find out more about Jann’s Bar here: https://marriottbonvoyasia.com/restaurants-bars/four-points-kuala-lumpur-chinatown-jann
Megan Lim, BAC
For BAC bartender Megan Lim, a trip to Taiwan during spring served as her cocktail inspiration. “It was really cold but beautiful in its own way. The people I met there were very welcoming and warm,” she recalls.
Her Roku Gin cocktail, A Social Butterfly, is her tribute to this spring memory. “Roku Gin’s Japanese botanicals and flavours were very similar to the dishes I tried during my Taiwan visit,” she explains. Hence why she recommends her sparkling cocktail – a concoction of Roku Gin, homemade sakura syrup, and sakura tea with a few dashes of hinoki bitters – for diners who want a light refreshing Aperitivo or an all-night drink.
Boy from Pahit Gin Bar too identifies spring with a season of new beginnings, rebirth and awakening. But mostly spring is when ideas come to life! That’s why his cocktail, Moon Ring, is a creative concoction of Roku Gin, Aperol, lemon, and cherry blossom syrup. He adds egg white to the ingredients list to give the cocktail a frothy texture with a creamy rich flavour. “It all complements Roku Gin’s botanical ingredients, and everything goes well with Roku Gin’s silky and smooth texture. After all, when you think of spring, you think of Sakura!”
David Hans, Three X Co
What is co-owner of Three X Co, David Hans’s favourite time of the year? None other than spring, of course! His best memory of the season is in Taiwan where spring is celebrated as a beautiful and joyful harvest season. “Everyone is happy because the idea of spring brings a new start and hope. It reminds me of a season of blossoming fruits and plants,” shares David.
It’s no wonder why his Roku Gin cocktail, Harusaki-tini, was created with Asian pear, rhubarb, sake, and Roku Gin. “Asian pear brings a natural sweetness to the cocktail while rhubarb’s sourness is the perfect balance to this sweetness. The natural colour of rhubarb also gives this cocktail a light pink colour, which is similar to Roku Gin’s sakura flower. Sake, which represents the harvest season, is like a breath of spring that gives the cocktail a rich flavour yet isn’t too heavy,” explains David. Coincidentally, Harusaki means the beginning of spring in Japanese, which all ties together with Roku Gin’s botanical ingredients that perfectly represent spring.
Find out more about Three X Co here: https://www.threexco.com/
James Fernandis, Sip Society
Spring may not be a time Head Bartender James Fernandis wants to remember because of personal tragedies but it did make him realise a few things: “One day in spring, my best friend died from cancer. I’d always make a spring cocktail to honour her passing. That same year, my grandmother and uncle passed away too. The grief is still overwhelming but it reminds me that nothing lasts forever. There is a season for everything in life and spring is a time of renewal. It reminds me to be hopeful, even during arduous times, to let light in, let nature simply be, and let life renew as intended by creation,” says James.
James’s cocktail creation is his tribute to the season and Roku Gin’s heritage. Konohana, a yuzu-floral flavour, celebrates cherry blossoms that are a symbol of Japanese culture. “Sakura, the national flower of Japan, and yuzu, a sacred fruit, come together to herald Spring, an important season in Japan,” says James of what inspired his cocktail creation, which he describes as a refreshing, more approachable drink.
Excited to try all these unique cocktails for what spring may taste like? Make it a date with Roku Gin to celebrate spring!