Shaking It Up With Bartender Gavin Teravasan Of Singapore’s 28 HongKong Street

Gavin Teravasan from 28 HongKong Street, one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, discusses the top alcohol trends for 2023 and hacks to make the perfect cocktail.

Published On Dec 15, 2022 | Updated On Mar 08, 2024


The internationally celebrated Singaporean bartender, Gavin Teravasan, was in Mumbai recently, to show his mixology skills at The Bombay Canteen. Displaying the intricacies of rum, Teravasan, the head bartender of 28 HongKong Street, the first-ever winner of The Best Bar in Asia award in 2016, worked his magic in front of an army of bottles.

He poured some of his secret recipes such as ‘Old-Fashioned Coffee Coconut’, ‘Gloria Al Bravo Pueblo’, ‘French Montana’ that put the bar on the world map. Explaining what it takes to be Asia’s best bar, Teravasan says, “The finest bar in the world requires an outstanding beverage programme, excellent hospitality, and an inviting ambience.” And what else, I ask, as he looks cool making a ‘Black Forest Negroni’ for me, a beautiful concoction of Diplomatico Mantuano rum, Campari, Rosso Vermouth, cherry and cacao nibs. He says, “An elaborate portfolio of brands and kinds of alcoholic beverages, assisted by top-notch and personalised hospitality, can be truly transformative in the experience of the patron guest.” 

In an exclusive chat with Zee Zest, Teravasan talks about upcoming alcobev trends, underrated alcohols, and hacks to make the perfect cocktail. Read on.

Excerpts of the interview:

Some traditional lines will continue to blur, and we will see people exploring bolder blends and spirits from newer countries and locations. We’ve seen this with Japanese whiskies in the recent past and wines from unorthodox locations doing well. Gins and bold whisky blends will do very well, as trends suggest.

I think Agave spirits have come a long way, and people are finally appreciating 100 per cent Agave spirit and moving away from the “club-style tequila”.

Pisco and brandy are a few of the most underrated alcobevs. Pisco has a distinct and strong aroma and a very smooth texture if prepared well. It has a semi-sweet or dry flavour. It also features grape flavour notes, along with herbal and earthy notes. On the other hand, brandy has the softness and fruitiness of wine and the alcohol punch and oak notes of a whisky. Both of them are excellent choices for cocktails and drinks.

The trend suggests an extensive exploration of bourbon or American whiskies. People are becoming more experimental in their drink choices. Bourbon and American whiskies have been around for a while, but recently, bartenders have started experimenting and exploring the category. In 2023, this trend will further grow in popularity.

Michael Callahan from Singapore. He has been instrumental in the rise of bars in Singapore and has influenced bartenders worldwide. He has also created some of the most amazing and creative drinks the world has ever seen.

Never underestimate the quality of your ice. The purpose of ice is not just to chill the drink or dilute it. After melting, it can add unwanted flavour to the cocktail. So, it is very important to use good quality ice and good ingredients. The ice must be made from a quality water source and generally have a balanced pH value and acceptable TDS values.

Over the years, I have played with many ingredients, but coffee and passionfruit are my all-time favourites. They go with many drinks and elevate the flavours just the right amount.

The method of distillation - this makes it stand apart distinctly from the rest. It has a spicy, medium-to-heavy mouth feel, buttery and fruity mouthfeel all at the same time. This creates a distinct flavour and helps in creating unique standout cocktails.

‘Missionary’s Downfall’ is one I can definitely mention off the top of my head. The irresistible nature of the Missionary’s Downfall is right in its name. And who could turn down this frozen, fruity concoction of mint, white rum, peach liqueur, lime juice, and pineapple!

Diplomatico and El dorado are the best rums produced worldwide. They are packed with great aroma and taste.

‘Black Forest Negroni’, ‘Fait la Force’ and ‘Spicy Guava Margarita’ are extremely popular at 28 HongKong Street.

Good concept, storytelling and the correct ingredients. The experience starts right from the storytelling on the menu, the concept has to be strong and relatable too. The pinnacle of the experience comes from the bartender’s skills and the ingredients used.

Photo: Gavin Teravasan