lifestyle • 02 Mar, 2017
Gin Shakedown @ Racha Room
A cocktail competition and gin-pairing dinner in the city
Ask any professional bartender what their favourite spirit is, and they should say gin. That’s according to Australian distillers Stuart Gregor and Cameron McKenzie, two veterans of the Australian wine industry who loved gin so much, they opened Four Pillars, their very own small-batch, craft gin distillery.
This week, in the spirit of that craft, and for the love of great food and drinks, they hosted a cocktail competition called ‘The Shakedown 2017’ and followed that up with a gin-pairing dinner, both held at The Racha Room in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1.
Attracting some of the city’s best bar-artists, the competition was eventually won by Cao Bao Nguyen, from Park Hyatt’s Martini bar. Judged by a panel including Stuart, Cameron, Richie Fawcett (Shri Bar) and Kristian Harmston (Alchemy Wine & Spirits), Stuart described Nguyen’s ‘GinGin Rosie’ as a ‘truly world class’ cocktail.
The dinner, which was a scrumptious five course set by Racha head chef Chris Donnellan, used the finest imported Australian produce, featuring slow-roasted pork belly, pressed duck and a salmon tartare. This was paired with six seriously good drinks by mixologist Gregory Jacob, which included a pre-dinner shiraz-gin aperitif, a couple of classic G&T’s, one Gin Sour and another drink called ‘The Orient’.
AnyArena caught up with the two hosts at the event, who summarised the day’s theme.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in Vietnam, Sydney or San Francisco”, said Stuart amidst the lively atmosphere, “the gin boom is real, because gin is interesting.”
“There was a trend twenty years ago for vodka”, he continued, “but today’s market wants drinks that taste of something, be they of a place, of a botanical, or of a spice.”
Cameron agreed. “Gin is about innovation” he began, “we sit on the doorstep of the spice trails of South East Asia through to the Middle East, so we have access to some of the most interesting botanical flavours here, as well as local ingredients at home, like the Tasmanian pepperberry leaf for example.”
“Though we still use juniper berries as our ‘canvas’," Cameron explained, "good gin is no longer that one-dimensional drink your grandmother drank at home.”
Stuart Gregor (left) and Luke Nguyen (right)
Mixologist Gregory Jacob
Cameron McKenzie and Stuart Gregor at Racha Room on February 27, 2016
Words by jonaspin
Photos: Tuan Tran, Bui Thanh Cong