In ‘the spirit of Thailand’
There’s nothing more Thai than rice, and Mekhong’s mixing wizards make amazing use of it
The bottlers of Mekhong recently showed again just how far the 80-year-old rum’s flavour extends with the second Mekhong Thai Spirit Cocktails competition. The winner and runnerup will be served at the Michelin Guide Thailand Star Revelation and Gala Dinner on November 14.
“Mekhong introduced the campaign in 2017 to find the best cocktails to represent Thailand on a global stage,” said Sansiri Yodmeungcharoen, assistant marketing director at Thai Beverage Marketing.
“Rin Kam Lam Khong draws its inspiration from the slogan ‘the Spirit of Thailand’,” says Aekachai Khongsri.
“We were able to proudly present two cocktails – ‘Koon Suek’ from Baan Suriyasai and ‘Thong’ from Tep Bar – at the Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018 Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner.
“What’s special about this year’s campaign is the sharper focus on using truly unique local ingredients alongside Mekhong rum to really celebrate the uniqueness of Thai flavours,” he said. “This year we expanded the search to cover the entire nation. We shortlisted 11 cocktails from 11 bars and restaurants. Each one tells a charming and unique story about Thailand, such as culture, tradition, and history.”
“‘Nuan’ refers to the off-white colour of a milled rice grain,” says Watchara Warodom.
The public was given a chance to vote on the shortlisted entries on Mekhong’s Facebook page.
“Those votes accounted for 20 per cent of the total score,” Sansiri said. “The remaining 80 per cent came from our panel of esteemed judges – Mekhong master blender Dechapongsa Kanchanalakshana; Philip Bishoff, the winner of Best Bar Asia; cocktail guru Ano Chuminchaj; celebrity chef Chumpol Jangprai; and Ariya Samattai of Thai Beverage Marketing.”
The two winners were Rin Kam Lam Khong, conceived by Aekachai Khongsri of Pullman Bangkok King Power, and Nuan, a creation of Watchara Warodom of Tep Bar.
Rin Kam Lam Khong
“Rin Kam Lam Khong draws its inspiration from the slogan ‘the Spirit of Thailand’, which in turn was derived from the iconic Mekhong River that’s the source of life for many,” Aekachai explained.
“To represent the origin of the river in Thailand, I used herbal tea and a blend of galangal, lemongrass and pandan leaves as a base before fusing it with sweet tamarind from Loei and crispy banana from Ubon Ratchathani.”
Watchara noted that the word “nuan” refers to the off-white tone of milled rice.
Dechapongsa Kanchanalakshana, Chumpol Jangprai and Philip Bishoff were the judges.
“A ceremony is typically held before rice, widely regarded as a sacred plant, is planted every June. In Bangkok, the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony marks the traditional beginning of the growing season. Taking this as inspiration, the cocktail Nuan delivers the subtle flavour of rice milk made from Thailand’s celebrated Hommali 105 jasmine rice.
“The real highlight comes from Mekhong, which is made from broken, milled glutinous rice. The cocktail has the natural sweetness of stevia and gets its acidity from Tep kitchen’s rice vinegar. Served in a tall glass rimmed with puffed rice crackers, Nuan celebrates rice in all its glory.”
Sansiri said Mekhong, established in 1941, “continues to represent the uniqueness and charm of Thai culture to people around the world”.
“The distinct flavours of the rum come from cane sugar and glutinous rice tips, distilled using traditional methods and then mixed with a blend of herbs and spices. The recipe has been passed down from one generation to the next, and is well loved by Thais and people around the world.
“We realise the role we play in helping to promote Thai culture far and wide. And this is why we initiated this campaign and will keep it going. We want Thais to be proud of their heritage and homegrown spirits such as Mekhong, which can be used to create truly unique cocktails.”