13 Apr 2017 By David Fuhrmann-Lim
Aki Wang is considered the Godfather of Taiwanese cocktails, a pioneer who has bridged Chinese ingredients with international cocktails to create something unique. And he’s made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.
Aki Wang is the founder of Indulge Life hospitality Group, which counts four award-winning restaurants and bars among its ventures. As a 22-year veteran, he’s respected and crazily experienced, and consults for brands including Sofitel, Agnes B Cafe and Intercontinental Saigon. His latest initiative is International Bartender’s Week Taiwan, and when he was in SG last month for a few guest shifts during Singapore Cocktail Festival 2017 #SGCF, we managed to snag an interview with him.
What’s the weirdest thing ever stolen from your bar?
This is an interesting question. I think the weirdest thing that has been stolen by a guest is our specialty glassware and cocktail garnishes.
What’s the best cocktail for a broken heart?
I don’t like to make the situation worse, so I’ll always suggest an easy cocktail that’s fruity. But usually, guests think they need something strong so they can get drunk more quickly, like a boilermaker.
Club Vieux Carre: Rémy Martin Club, Michter’s Rye Whiskey, Mancino Amaranto Rosso, Benedictine Dom, Seaport Heavy Fermented Tea Bitters and lemon peel.
What do you drink after your shift?
A glass of fine quality Cognac like Rémy Martin 1738.
What’s your signature drink?
The Mar-Tea-Ni, which is a classic cocktail that’s a twist of the Martini. I use Taiwan’s famed oolong tea to create a vermouth infusion, then mix it with The Botanist gin. It is served with a mandarin orange peel. Guests can find this mellow and fragrant cocktail at Indulge, one of my cocktail bars.
Most memorable drinking experience?
It definitely has to be Dukes Bar at Dukes Hotel in London. The hotel concocts some of the world’s best martinis and the head mixologist, Alessandro Palazzi (above), is one of the most gentle and humble guys I’ve ever met. He’s got an incredible skill to make the best martinis I’ve ever had in my whole life.
Person you would most like to drink with?
I would like to drink with some industry designers and those in the art industry. I think they can be a real help when it comes to innovating and aiding my cocktail inspirations.
Which are the three bars in your city we must absolutely visit?
Indulge Experimental Bistro (above), East End, and Four Play.
Aki Wang’s Aquarius of Cointreau: The Botanist Gin, Cointreau, bergamot, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, honey and chrysanthemum tea, and apple juice.
What’s a cocktail/bar trend that needs to stop/that’s overrated?
Free-flow alcohol and shots.
What’ve you learned about life from behind the bar?
Always stay humble and keep learning. You can always learn new things from different places in order to increase your ability to bartend and develop your own personality and style.
Have you ever cried in a bar?
Yes, when I won my first global cocktail competition.
Thanks to Remy Cointreau for arranging the interview.