You might be wondering who this Enzo is. So did I when I first heard about this event. Turns out, he’s a representative of Vantguard, a Spanish company that comes up with amazing premium drinks that stand out from the existing ones in the current market. He has been travelling throughout several regions, helping and teaching local bartenders all over on how to mix Gin Mare to give out the ‘taste’ of the Mediterranean. As for Malaysia, he was invited by Wholly Spirits to come by Three X Co on the night of the 24th of January to do just that.

Gin Mare displayed outside Three X Co

See, the Gin Mare doesn’t play a role as an ‘element’ to a cocktail. It encompasses the Mediterranean spirit and culture all in one. Besides the extensive gastronomical exploration gone through to create the Gin Mare, this gin was created to capture the essence of the lifestyle of the Mediterranean people. Think, relaxing by the seaside, chilling with your friends or loved ones, enjoying the cool breeze and the sound of waves crashing on the shore.

G&T Med Inspirations ‘12

The cocktail I took was the G&T Med Inspirations '12. Certainly enough, it tasted of smoked  rosemary with a blend of other spices (basil and thyme if I presume correctly), with a refreshing peel of orange to add a subtle, citrus fruitiness to the mix. The end result leaves you with a bitter taste at the back of your mouth that persists until you cleanse your mouth with other drinks.

In short, Gin Mare embodies the escape we all long for from our daily hustle and bustle by taking our minds and bringing us to that far away place. Vantguard has always had a passion for capturing the ingredients and essence of local cultures to bring drinks to consumers on an experiential level. How you may ask? Such an experience is achieved through the drinking experience as well as the storytelling bartenders do for their customers. This, is the reason why Enzo came.

Enzo behind the bar

Having 18 years worth of experience as a former bartender himself, his task is now to train, or as he likes to call it, ‘share’ the experience and knowledge of Gin Mare and all that it is to local bartenders worldwide. Why? The principle is simple. Enzo believe that the person behind the bar plays the most important role for their customers because the customers’ entire experience throughout their drinking is the bartender’s responsibility.

In his own words..

“We do not encourage revelry and getting drunk, no. We want the customer to experience our drinks for what they are, the flavors of the Mediterranean and to think and be reminded of the culture there. You know? Relaxing by the sea, enjoying the waves and all.”

However, Enzo’s visit here to Asia is not merely to promote the products of his brand. As with his passion for sharing, he is also eager to learn what Asia has to offer. Throughout the month, he has dropped by several countries; Bangkok, Taiwan and Qatar to share and learn. He joked about how he got his first taste of mangoes in Asia and recently figured out a new cocktail mix involving the sweet fruit.

As the time closed in and Enzo had to take up his role at the bar, I asked for his advice on bartending. It was a job he was truly passionate about and he had 4 advice to give to those interested in the craft:

  1. Be respectful
  2. Be helpful
  3. Be disciplined
  4. Always challenge yourself to do better

In respect, Enzo encourages bartenders to emulate the spirit of constantly sharing knowledge and learning what you don’t know. Respect is key to being humble and learning from other people who are different from you.

In being helpful, he warns bartenders who are seasoned in their field to be patient and not brag about what they know. Be patient, guide those new to drinking and teach others the beauty of bartending.

As for discipline, Enzo noticed a stigma that he wants to break; the stigma that bartenders encourage people to get drunk. His hope is that bartenders attain the status of classy, warm service providers who will help those who drink have a pleasurable and enjoyable experience.

He ends with the need to challenge oneself to improve. Just like Vantguard’s company principle, Enzo spurs bartenders to constantly strive to improve themselves in their services by always seeking knowledge, learning and teaching others.

That was all I could manage to talk about with jovial Enzo that night. He was in high spirits to get behind the bar to tend the incoming crowd. Thus I bid him farewell and wished him all the best. If you’re interested in seeing him in action, he will return to Malaysia once more in March to promote more of Vantguard’s offerings as well as train the local bartenders here. He wishes to drop by Asia more often to learn and spread the knowledge of Mediterranean cocktails.

The profound sentence that stuck with me that night was this.

“Asia’s growing knowledge, expertise and openness to cocktails makes it a to-go destination”

The picture we took post chat

-Isaac Khoo