With New Year’s Eve falling on a Monday, some sippers might opt for quality over quantity to avoid the aftermath of heavy drinking, ushering in 2013 by lingering over a top-notch cocktail or two before popping the Champagne.
To that end, The Ritz Bar head bartender Eom Do-hwan at The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul, passes on his cocktail know-how with a recipe for one of his signature drinks, which can be ordered from the maestro himself at the hotel’s bar.
|Diageo Reserve World Class 2010 runner-up Eom Do-hwan creates his signature hot toddy-style drink, P-Suite, by torching whisky and pouring it in one long blue arc of flame from one jug to another. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
In the world of Korean bartending, Eom is a heavyweight. When he walked away with runner-up status for the 2010 Diageo Reserve World Class’ bartender of the year title, he made history as the first Korean to climb up to second place in the relatively young but high-profile global competition.
Naturally, the signature cocktails he presented at World Reserve are on the menu at The Ritz Bar, which boasts a large selection of cocktails of Eom’s own making.
“To differentiate ourselves, we put the focus on signature cocktails,” the 35-year old head bartender explained.
Eom also revealed that seasonal cocktails are a recent menu addition, along with a special New Year’s Eve cocktail set, where patrons can select two out of three signature cocktails and a snack for 125,000 won.
For winter, Eom recommended a hot-toddy-style signature cocktail christened the P-Suite, after the hotel’s most expensive room. Whiskey is the base of this drink, which Eom torches repeatedly and pours from one jug to another, to great, blue-flaming effect.
Earl Grey tea is added and the warm libation is topped with milk foam, a stick of cinnamon for swirling and sipping and a dusting of brown sugar.
Whiskey also gets a pleasantly spiced treatment with Eom’s signature Super Penicillin.
Peated single malt whiskeys Lagavulin 16 years and Laphroaig 10 years lend their smoky warmth to this drink, which takes on a sweet and holiday-friendly edge with honey syrup, ginger and ginger ale.
Super Penicillin goes down smooth and gentle before sending out a heated kick at the end.
Gin is featured in one of Eom’s stellar creations, which he created for a party held at the hotel. Named Morning at the Garden, this is a libation for fearless cocktail connoisseurs as it employs egg whites.
The egg white gives the drink its froth and according to Eom, heightens the texture of the liquor.
Cucumber, basil and lemon juice give this delicious drink its fresh punch, while honey syrup levels it all out.
Eom’s flair for showmanship and understanding of the role aroma plays in taste is displayed with a final flick of his hand as he sprays housemade citrus bitters over the drink before presenting it.
The Pond is yet another of the Eom’s strong gin-based signature cocktails, with shiso and lemon juice marrying for a tart and herbaceous match in a libation that also features rose syrup.
“We have popular signature drinks that get steady reception from patrons and The Pond is one of them,” said Eom.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Eom is dedicated to changing up the menu with new concoctions and for 2013 he wants to “push for food ingredient-driven cocktails.”
As someone who sports a wide range of housemade bitters ― including apple, grapefruit and coffee ― Eom sees his work as that of a “bar chef.”
“Bartending is not just about the liquor, you need knowledge of food-based ingredients as well.”
The Ritz Bar’s El Jimador
Named after expert agave harvesters, called “jimadores” in Spanish, this signature cocktail created by head bartender Eom Do-hwan uses tequila, which is made from the agave plant, as its base. Eom gives the drink a Korean twist with spicy Cheongyang pepper.
The Ritz Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul; 2F, 120 Bongeunsa-ro, Seoul 135-080; open 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily; (02) 3451-8277; www.ritzcarltonseoul.com; cocktails cost 19,500 won to 29,500 won (prices subject to change in 2013); dress code is casual smart, no shorts or flip flops allowed; head bartender Eom Do-hwan is generally on duty Thursdays and Fridays with Saturdays usually off.
The Ritz Bar’s El Jimador
● 45 ml tequila
● 5 g cucumber
● 1 whole pepper and 4 slices of 0.5-cm-thick green Cheongyang chili pepper
● 20 ml fresh lemon juice
● 15 ml agave syrup
1. Slice cucumber thinly and put in mixing glass.
2. Pour 45 ml tequila into mixing glass.
3. Muddle cucumber and tequila.
4. Squeeze lemon for fresh lemon juice. Add lemon juice and agave syrup to mixing glass.
5. Slice Cheongyang pepper and add to mixing glass with ice. Shake in Boston or classic shaker.
6. Double strain drink into a glass.
7. Garnish with a Cheongyang pepper and serve.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)