It's Tequila and Mezcal time at Bar Convent Singapore , with our pals from the Mexican Embassy, East West Asia and Don Ramon
Bar Convent Singapore was the location. It was 11:30AM and the first tequila was handed to me for tasting. Woof, and we’re off ladies and gentlemen.
First of all, though I had to argue my way into the event with the security because one was wearing flip-flops, and apparently in fine print somewhere it said covered shoes for men. I said I was interviewing the Mexican Ambassador for Singapore: job done, and I go with a very big virtual thank you to Augustin for making the entry happen.
This was my first time as official media at an event. How funny is that? I was pretty awful at English back in the school days. Now look at me, a boy from Margate England, with a media pass at South East Asia’s biggest beverage event, about to meet the Mexican Ambassador again. Funny how things happen.
I had no wingman today as my partner-in-crime and alcohol-tasting buddy, Spencer, was on vacay for his anniversary. Funny again is that I was tequila and mezcal tasting and getting alcohol poured down my throat, whereas Spence was on a detox retreat having all the alcohol colonically removed from the other end… Ying/Yang.
Bar Convent Singapore was BIG, perhaps the biggest of its kind to date in South East Asia. This was a first for BCB (German HQ), the organizers, to have this in Asia and Singapore. Suffice it to say, it seemed to have been a good choice because this place was rammed to the rafters, and Pasir Panjang Power Station is HUGE, so that is indeed saying something.
Unveiling the Cocktail Carnival: Bar Convent Singapore 2023! 🍹🎪
Hold onto your garnishes, folks, because the bartending extravaganza of the year shook things up in the Lion City! This really was a place where mixology met magic (after a few tequilas I’ll say anything to get another one, haha), and every sip will tell a story, this was day one at Bar Convent Singapore 2023, where the drinks are cold, and the vibes are hotter than a jalapeño in a cocktail shaker! 🌶️🍸 Did I really just say that?
It’s not just another bar conference; it’s the ultimate playground for bartenders, spirit enthusiasts, and anyone who appreciates the art of a perfectly crafted libation. 🎉 Today Islifearecipe.net was there for three things only: Premium Tequila, Premium Mezcal, and some bloke called Augustin who’s the Mexican Ambassador for Singapore, or something… cough cough…
Now, you might be wondering, “What’s the buzz about this, the first event BCB has done in Singapore?” Well, imagine a concoction of cutting-edge trends, jaw-dropping techniques, spirits galore, the best cocktail makers in Southeast Asia, and a dash of Singaporean flair – that’s the recipe for Bar Convent Singapore 2023. And they nailed it.
In this article, I interview our mates from East West Asia and Don Ramon Tequila and Mezcal, and will spill the (no tequila was spilled during the creation of this article) inside story and why they saw Bar Convent Singapore carnival as a must-attend in 2023.
So, let me quickly grab another Mezcal and then dive into my little cocktail shaker of information. 🍹✨
Let's have a quick walkthrough of Bar Convent Singapore: a few of the salient photos to bring back some memories through my Mezcal fog...
I feel the need to show off all the cultures in my family and my friends that were on show. So, of course, Japan: who had a massive presence at Bar Convent Singapore. This is the Japan Pavilion, but there were also a multitude of single booths of Japanese liquor, literally a huge presence for the first event with whisky, gin, sake and so on.
KI NO BI (“The Beauty of the Seasons”) is inspired by tradition and is distilled, blended and bottled in Kyoto. The gin is made in a recognisably dry style, but with a distinct Japanese accent.
KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin is created with Japanese botanicals such as yellow yuzu from the north of Kyoto Prefecture, akamatsu wood chips (Japanese red pine), bamboo, gyokuro tea from the Uji region and green sanshō (Japanese peppercorn) berries. Bottled at 45.7% abv, KI NO BI uses a rice spirit base and pure ground water sourced from the famous sake-brewing district of Fushimi.
Our mates from the Mexican Embassy Singapore, including Augustin the Ambassador and Gerson Charing the Chamber of Commerce, outside the Kah Tequila booth. Kah share that the bottle design and spirits celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the 3,000 year-old Meso-American traditional holiday in remembrance of deceased loved ones.
While the bottle captures the enduring tradition, the Tequila inside of it is worthy of celebration.
Off to my second home of the Philippines now, and Don Papa Rum… Now using a little of the content from their website: A deliciously appetising liquid of unquestionable quality, each sip of Don Papa Rum transports you to the mystical world of Sugarlandia – an odd but very marvellous place where senses are heightened and everything is not as it seems. Yep, I like that.
A premium aged, single-island rum from the Philippines, Don Papa is crafted on the fertile foothills of the active volcano Mt. Kanlaon – where the finest blades of sugarcane are expertly milled to produce sweet, rich molasses.
After harvest, fermentation, and distillation, Don Papa Rum is blended to perfection by their Master Blender before coming together in an alchemy of magic in a bottle.
Also residing in my second home of the Philippines is the infamous Tanduay Rum. This bad boy is loved by a lot of my family back in Bohol. It’s quality and it is cheap when you buy it locally in the Philippines. Ready to rock your Pinoy?
I’ll give it to Tanduay Rum, I love what they have to say about themselves: Tanduay Distillers, Inc. is the oldest among the Lucio Tan Group’s subsidiaries and carries with it the distinction of being one of the biggest brands in the distilled spirits category with a 99% share in the Philippine rum category.
Tanduay is a national icon. And as the Spirits Drink of Filipinos, it represents the nation’s true characteristics. These include the spirit of honor and tradition; the spirit of bravery, resiliency, and dedication; and the core trait of respect for elders and family values. These characteristics have made Tanduay what it stands for today.
Now to our friends at East West Asia and Don Ramon Tequila and Mezcal: the ultra premium drinking fog commences...
I rocked up early. I had plans for interviews with Brian, Max, Christian, and maybe even the Mexican Ambassador and ended up achieving two out of four. But many other chats, engagements and this strange thing you constantly do at beverage conferences called: tasting… It had a strange impact on my handwriting, because when I got home I had no idea I knew how to write short-hand. How about that?
It was great to meet up with Team Mexico. If you want to listen to a rousing, super-proud, inspiring speech about a country, make sure you get to watch Augustin, the Mexican Ambassador for Singapore one day. VIVA MEXICO!!!
Here are the guys after such a speech in the East West Asia booth, yes having had a few tasters of course. I loved listening to Augustin explain the origins of tequila and mezcal to the Singaporean crew from Bar Convent Singapore… That was just a classic conversation to watch.
Brian and the boys were super-busy during Bar Convent Singapore, clearly a popular brand with truly incredible products. I even had the good fortune to bring a couple of potential new buyers to the booth (yes to drink more tequila and mezcal).
Joseba from Next Door Spanish Cafe came and gave high praise to the tequilas, and in the picture here is Tim, Group Operations Director and colleague from Spa Esprit. Again a great tasting session of the ultra premium tequila and mezcals from East West Asia and Don Ramon.
If you’re unaware, Spa Esprit is an awesome company feeding us with such brands as Tippling Club, Noka, The Butcher’s Wife, Tiong Bahru Bakery, Common Man Roaster, Grounded by CMCR, Bochinche, and Open Farm Community.
East West Asia and Don Ramon Ultra Premium Tequila and Mezcal: peeling a few agave leaves back...
Introducing the Titans of Tequila: East West Asia Distributors! 🌎🍹
I just love that statement: “Make friends with Tequila Don Ramon…he does not bite!”
Ever dreamt of a Tequila journey that takes you beyond borders, into the heart of Southeast Asia, and possibly, straight into a local Mexican fiesta? Well, buckle up people, because we’re about to share an early morning boozy adventure with the maestros of Mexican spirits – East West Asia Distributors! 🎉
They’re the folks in Singapore who’ve mastered the art of bringing you the crème de la crème of Ultra Premium Tequila and Mezcal, and they’re doing it with a flair that’ll make your taste buds think they’re vacating in Mexico. Oh, yes… ARIBA 🍸
Now, you might be thinking, “Why should I care about distributors in Singapore?” That is an excellent question! East West Asia is not just your average distributor; they’re the founders and architects of a liquid masterpiece that’s taking the region by storm, with in-depth knowledge and a passion that is second to none…
In this article, we’ll uncork (I love that) the secrets behind East West Asia’s success, from the bustling streets of Singapore to Mexico, Southeast Asia, and beyond. Get ready to discover the intoxicating blend of passion, ultra premium spirits, and a touch of East West magic from father and son that’s making waves in the world of spirits.
You never know, your next sip of Tequila or Mezcal might just be a revelation, and East West Asia holds the golden ticket! 🌟🥂
Brian and Max Werner, father and son, are the masterminds behind East West Asia, and I had good fortune to sit and have a chat with Brian in between the multiple tastings and discussions at the booth. Believe me, it was tough to find a break for this session.
I asked Brian what differentiates East West Asia to the next distributor, and he responded with true pride that they are a family company, that know Mexico, the product and look for and desire to be true partners. He started the company back in 2016 when he became completely fed up watching kids, and adults, throwing up on the cheapest, roughest tequila. I think we’ve all been there, so Brian becomes our knight in shining tequila…
They are a family founded, and majority-owned (85%) family company – and that exudes from them. The father-son combo shines. It’s great to watch.
He gave an example of working with Iztic for six years developing the brand outside of Mexico City. Clearly East West Asia is in it for the long-term partnership and surrounds itself with brands that desire the same relationship of empathy and trust.
Brian has lived for 20 years in Mexico running is own tourism business, showing of the varied food, culture and of course, libations. He then had a period of 10 years working part-time in Mexico. East West Asia pride themselves on developing the market and territory with their brands, fixing the pricing regime per country, knowing the Asian palate, bringing the right branding and design for the local markets, with an understanding that a market may take up to two years to develop.
They build brands, not just distribute.
Brian’s son, Max, was born in Mexico and both are fluent in Spanish therefore. Thier banter with potential customers was quite infectious, or was that just the tequila love kicking in? They spent the first three years searching for those partner brands, and came into Singapore pre-covid. Then that struck causing all retail to close. Brian decided to ride it out, and in 2022 saw a 2-300% growth in the business. They’re back with a tequila-buzz…
We spoke about price ranges with Don Ramon top-end of town price region being $500-750 a bottle. The Edition Limitada for example is up there, but partners with Swarovski to bling the bottle, and in each presentation case it includes a necklace and pendant. Woof!!!
As I was speaking to Brian it took me back to my certification: Reposado Cristalino is two times filtered and rested, Plata is one time filtered. The filtration process is actually done through charcoal and basically removes the colouration from the aging barrels to leave it crystal clear.
They currently support 40 outlets, with another 40-60 coming in January 2024, and will also be distributing across: Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Also new for 2024 is a mutually funded brand and concept. Coffee Tequila, folks, oh yes. Watch the shelves for Vera Cruz Coffee Bean Tequila, coming your way in 2024. She’s gonna be BIG. Described as being Phrases Made of Words, this is made with Tequila Silver.
Amazingly I see East West Asia brands all over Singapore now. Remember this photo from The Madman and Co blog I recently did? Well, yes, La Cofradia Tequila is indeed from them…
Brian also informed me he is BIG in the Philippines… I need I need another chat with him, haha…
TEQUILA DON RAMÓN LIMITED EDITION SWAROVSKY AÑEJO 750 ML
Unveiling the Liquid Legends: Don Ramon Tequila and Mezcal! 🌵🥃
We’re about to dive headfirst into the world of spirits that’ll make you question if you’ve been living life on the rocks (see what I did there?) Meet Don Ramon Tequila and Mezcal. It’s not just their Tequila and Mezcal; it’s a crafted symphony of flavors, a dance of agave elixirs that’ll make you want to cha-cha with your shot glass, and likely anyone standing in your blast radius after you’ve had a few. 💃🥳! 🎉🍹 VIVA MEXICO!!!
Before you start thinking this is just another tequila sunrise, let us spill the agave-infused secret. Don Ramon isn’t just a brand; it’s a liquid legend, a spirit savant that has mastered the art of turning every bottle into a celebration. And that’s why East West Asia are the perfect partner with them, the quality DNA alignment.
The agave adventure awaits, and missing out on Don Ramon would be like skipping the salt on your rim (ooer missus). 🌵✨
I spoke with the Don Ramon Key Account Executive for Distribution, Christian Gutierrez, at Bar Convent Singapore. This was his first time visiting the shores of the Lion City from Mexico, and you could clearly see he was having fun.
Christian supports the European and Asian markets for Don Ramon. He stated that Europe was by far the biggest of the two markets, but sees in 2024 that Asia is likely to take the pole position. I wonder if Bar Convent Singapore will help to achieve that. All the feedback I heard on the product was nothing but complimentary, including me.
We discussed the Reposado Tequila, as Christian stated that the product is fast becoming a very popular tipple in Asia. Reposado means “rested” in Spanish, and reposados rest anywhere from two months to a year before they are bottled. Reposados take on the gold hue from the barrels in which they are aged. They are typically aged in oak or white oak barrels, and the type of barrel changes the flavor of each distillery’s tequila.
Christian also sees a major uptake now in the premium brands of Don Ramon, and you’ll see some of those bottles below – just check out the one in partnership with Swarovski, that even comes with an accompanying jewelry set, not just the bling on the bottle.
I asked about the drinking style of tequila and mezcal in Asia, and again Christian confirmed my thoughts that the younger are still pushing those cocktails and will gravitate more towards their Buen Amigo brand, whereas the more mature of us will be drinking neat and sampling the many Don Ramon varieties now available within our shores: that is all super smooth and every so smoky due to the aging in barrels.
Lose your tequila shot stigma, folks. Tequila and Mezcal are as complex as your finest whisky or French red wines, even down to the type of glass you; ‘re supposed to enjoy the tipple from. Christian is openly and mightily proud to work for Don Ramon in the tequila and mezcal business, and rightly so, because that is the quality that you’re spreading the word about my friend.
Let's delve in to the product offerings the partnership between East West Asia and Don Ramon is bringing to Singapore, including 'the damage'...
I feel a little bit like Booking.com here with a highest to lowest pricing. This really is showing off their Ultra Premium Tequila and Mezcal brands. Believe me, this is where the quality bus stops, you need go no further. I have had these and they all left me: hungry for more (thanks Anthony Bourdain).
TEQUILA DON RAMÓN LIMITED EDITION SWAROVSKY SILVER 750 ML
On that top shelf…
TEQUILA DON RAMÓN PLATINIUM SILVER 750 ML
TEQUILA DON RAMÓN PLATINIUM REPOSADO CRISTALINO 750 ML
TEQUILA DON RAMÓN STANDARD SILVER 750 ML
TEQUILA DON RAMÓN STANDARD AÑEJO 750 ML
My conclusions of East West Asia and Don Ramon Ultra Premium Tequila and Mezcals...
In conclusion, East West Asia stands as a prominent player in the realm of premium and ultra-premium Tequila and Mezcal distribution in the vibrant markets of Singapore, Southeast Asia, and beyond. With a passion for exceptional spirits, the company has established itself as a key importer and master distributor. Their dedication to quality and partnership is reflected in their portfolio of award-winning brands, making them a go-to source for those seeking the finest in Tequila and Mezcal.
As we raise a metaphorical toast (many real ones on the day) to East West Asia, it’s evident that their commitment to excellence extends beyond the spirits themselves.
In a world where the appreciation for premium beverages is continually evolving, East West Asia stands out as a reliable partner for those who value not only the products they distribute but also the stories and craftsmanship behind each bottle. Cheers to East West Asia, where every sip tells a tale of dedication, flavor, and the artistry of fine spirits.
They are so proud of and dedicated to this industry, country, and products that they even launched an International Tequila Academy, and yes, yours truly achieved 100% pass mark for Tequila Academy Level 1. Here I am with the Mexican Ambassador for Singapore and yes he is signing my certificate. Also with the new Chairman of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce for Singapore, Gerson Garduño.
Bar Convent Singapore, our original press release: A grand debut featuring global brands, industry expertise and exciting guest shifts
Singapore, 3 October 2023 – The highly anticipated Bar Convent Singapore (BCB Singapore) is set to take place on 6 and 7 November 2023. It will act as the catalyst of growth for the bar and beverage industry in Asia and serves as a premier platform for passionate industry professionals across Asia Pacific to connect, innovate, and celebrate regional talent.
The event highlight “Homegrown Heroes” will see bar teams from various Asian countries, including ReCraft from the Philippines, Hybrid from Vietnam, Penrose from Malaysia, and Lost in Thaislation from Thailand, partnering in a series of exclusive guest shifts with their nation’s counterparts currently working in Singapore, showcasing a fusion of talents and experiences that exemplify the boundaryless potential the region’s bar scene has to offer.
In addition to the cross-border collaboration, Bar Convent Singapore will also feature an extensive lineup of education sessions led by over 40 renowned international bartenders and industry experts, an exhibition of over 150 global brands, a wide array of tasting masterclasses, both onsite and offsite guest shifts, and a series of networking opportunities and activities.
The carefully crafted education programme at Bar Convent Singapore, with guidance from Peter Chua, director of Composed Concepts and co-owner of Night Hawk, has invited some of the renowned figures in the industry, including Michael Callahan, managing director of the Compound Collective and founding bartender of 28 HongKong Street; Monica Berg, co-owner of Tayēr + Elementary and creative director of Campari Academy; and Lorenzo Antinori, founder of Bar Leone and Lorenzo Antinori Studio.
The comprehensive Bar Convent Singapore programme is tailored to diverse industry roles, with topics including:
– “Journey from Bartender to Owner” with Beckaly Franks, co-owner of The Pontiac and Founder of Hungry Ghost
– Sustainability through varying lenses with Alex Francis, bar director of LITTLE RED DOOR; Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn, co-owner and bartender of Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar and #FindTheLockerRoom; and Vijay Mudaliar, founder of Native and Analogue
– Practical flair techniques with Bryan Bonifacio, principal bartender of Employees Only Singapore, and Shallum Recto, on-trade specialist of William Grant & Sons Singapore Distribution
– And more.
Attendees can also anticipate an impressive showcase featuring an extensive selection of craft and premium spirits, mixers, beers, sakes, cutting-edge technology, and equipment, including market leaders like The Botanist, Monkey 47, and Campari, as well as a Japan Pavilion bringing together over 20 Japanese producers of sake, shochu, craft beer, awamori, and other traditional spirits.
In addition to the onsite activities, BCB Singapore offers all attendees a dynamic range of experiences across the city, with 10 official guest shifts and activations kicking off on Sunday, 5 November. In collaboration with acclaimed bars, the guest shifts include KI NO BI and Monkey Shoulder 47 at Manhattan Bar featuring Rogerio Igarashi of Bar Trench, Tokyo; Flor de Cana at Smoke & Mirrors featuring Crimson Room, Bangkok; and Proof & Company‘s closing party at 28 HongKong Street featuring Beckaly Franks. Other activities include a nature trail and wellness session organised by Healthy Hospo, in partnership with Fever Tree and Seedlip, taking place during the daytime on 5 November.
“Bar Convent Singapore is the first event of its kind dedicated to Asia’s bar and beverage industry, promising to deliver a curated schedule of educational sessions and networking opportunities, a rich array of leading and emerging craft brands, and a whole wealth of knowledge and expert insights, all within one single venue,” said Henry Stonham, Senior Project Manager of BCB Singapore.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at $60 for a one-day pass and $80 for both days through Bar Convent Singapore‘s website here.
To find out more information, visit the website (www.barconventsingapore.com) and stay connected on social media by following @barconventsingapore.
Look out for new Cocktails coming from Bar Convent Singapore on our Cocktail Recipe Page!