Ashish Sharma And Emirul Muhammed's Bar Take Over Of The Backroom
Sweet, aromatic, and incredibly powerful—rum is one of the most celebrated liquors all over the world. The origin of its name is unclear just as how much vague is its historical roots. Some would say that it came from the Romani word rum, which means "strong" or "potent". Most people would rather associate it to old words such as rumbullion and rumbustion, defined as "noisy, uncontrollable exuberance". Some claim that it came from the Carribean islands as the region is very famous for it. While Asia, on the other hand, attest that the practice of distilling sugar and molasses existed since the 7th century AD. But no matter how obscure its origin is, nobody can deny that rum cuts across cultures and social classes. This strong spirit never disappoint in extricating its drinkers' inhibitions as rum on the table leads to a rambunctious affair. In one fine night, Manila's dipsomaniacs enjoyed modern takes on this ubiquitous liquor—award-winning Bar Trigona's head bartender Ashish Sharma and his colleague Emirul Muhammed take over The Backroom for one-night only.
Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur's premier and internationally acclaimed bar, is known for concocting delectable cocktails from indigenous and sustainable ingredients. From the wild turmeric harvested in Pahang, raw honey from the Trigona hives, and tropical fruits from a Bangi organic farm, Bar Trigona's unique cocktails put Malaysian produce on centre stage. Moreover, its posh, cosmopolitan interior design complements Sharma's plethora of fantastic drinks.
During Sharma and Muhammed's bar take over of The Backroom, they introduced their bar's menu through its four sections: fruit, leaf and flower, stem and seed, and root. These four sections, understandably, highlight particular parts of a Malaysian produce in every drink. Meanwhile, the "root to shoot" approach is applied to the food menu, where particular specialities repurpose ingredients. Hence, the bar's food waste is levelled down to zero.
Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur's head bartender and beverage manager Ashish Sharma oversees the operations throughout the hotel's six restaurants and lounges, banquets and catering events and in-depth mixology training. His career in the hotel industry began with the hotel brand's Mumbai property where he developed the passion for food and beverage, specifically in the area of classic cocktails. Prior to this, he also held similar positions at the Regent Singapore (also a Four Seasons Hotel), and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. It was in this resort where he honed his bartending skills and started focusing on cultivating the cocktail culture for the hotel brand.
“In my capacity, I feel a strong responsibility in staying true to the original art of cocktail making, but also feel a strong responsibility to deliver unique, unexpected beverages and incorporating sustainable, local ingredients,” said Ashish in an interview during the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur. “Every cocktail has a story, and I look forward to sharing these rich stories and creating new ones here at Four Seasons in Kuala Lumpur.”
Together with his colleague Muhammed and The Backroom's attentive staff, they served some of Bar Trigona's signature cocktails using Diplomatico rum and alternatively used ingredients available in the Philippines:
Recipe: Diplomatico Planas, Jeruk syrup, and dry sherry lime
A refreshing drink with fruity zests of mango and lime with herbaceous hints from the jeruk syrup. Indeed, the clear-coloured Diplomatico Planas's rich and chewy body was a great base for this cocktail. Its notes of cappucino and nutty finish surprisingly add depth as well to this cocktail.
Recipe: Diplomatico exclusiva reserva, vermouth rosso, mix of bitter and amaro, Borneo honey, lemon, finished with Teh Tarik foam
This particular variety of Diplomatico is a fabulous dark golden rum aged for up to 12 years. Rich, sweet and fruity, it is a great base for this cocktail together with vermouth rosso to give the teh tarik a milky sweet flavour and pronounced, long finish. An adorable garnish to this drink is a toasted slice of bread, which gives it a breakfast vibe. Well, who said you can't have a morning drink?
Recipe: Diplomatico Planas, coconut, trigona honey, tamarind and lemon, shaken with egg white
This full-bodied concoction that evokes aromatic fruity notes and refreshing citrusy hints may complement a hearty meal and has a long finish.
Buds & Shoots
Recipe: Diplomatico Mantuano, homemade vermouth, DOM Benedictine and Fernet
Mantuano is a rich and rounded Venezuelan rum, with delicious, smooth, sweet fruitiness and a silky mouthfeel. With luscious herbal liqeurs DOM Benedictine and Fernet as addition and a dash of Malaysian variety of cardamom, this drink is a sure favourite and a perfect nightcap.
Diplomatico Rum is distributed in the Philippines by Apotheke Craft Spirits Co.
The Backroom is located at Shangri-La at The Fort, 30th Street, corner 5th Ave, Taguig, 1634 Metro Manila
- Photography Franz Sorilla IV