The last of the eight BACARDÍ Legacy UK semi-finalists is Peter Nguyen, currently working at China Tang at the historic Dorchester Hotel. “I’ve always been a classic bartender,” says Peter, when asked to sum up his bartending style. ” I enjoy studying the classics, tasting, sharing and teaching others about them. I believe classic cocktails have great foundations and the stories behind them captivate the hearts of many and inspire most of our contemporary creations. Therefore I want to bring the same principles to my BACARDÍ Legacy cocktail: to create a story and bring the drink to life.”
Over to you Peter…
When and why did you decide you wanted to enter BACARDÍ Legacy this year?
I first participated in BACARDÍ Legacy last year in Australia. It was my first ever Legacy and of course I was inspired by the likes of Tom Walker and Fred Siggins the year before. However, I didn’t really have a clear vision and goal. After watching the videos of previous global competitors, I realised that it is much more than winning the competition. It’s about the fraternity, the brotherhood of the bartending community. It’s about connecting and being able to inspire people through stories and flavours of your life.
Have you followed the journeys of previous finalists (UK and/or global), and if so, who has stood out most for you and why?
Tom Walker and Fred Siggins stood out the most amongst the rest, they made me realise that to be able to win this competition, I need to have a clear goal, and a real story, something that represents who I am and why have I chosen bartending as a profession.
Why is BACARDÍ Legacy such an important competition for you personally?
Every dream begins with a single step. My grandfather was a hospitality teacher at local universities back in Vietnam. I’ve always wanted to continue my grandfather’s legacy, that is to teach hospitality, to motivate and inspire the younger generation of my country. I want to give back to the community and inspire those with less opportunity than I have. And most of all, I want to push the young bartenders creatively so they can compete with the rest of the world.
I have to say the flavours in my drink do not belong to me. They take inspiration from my grandfather.
Please describe your cocktail and the inspiration behind it.
When I was young I used to run into the garden and yell out “grandpa”, and he’d grab my hand and we would walk around the garden together eating slices of grapefruit dipped in salt. Earlier this year I went back to Vietnam and visited him in hospital. I told him that I’m in love with this job, I told him that I wanted to be able to go around the world and meet great people, visit great bars and of course make great friends along the way. He told me “If you want to win a competition why don’t you try and use pickled plum as it is the nation’s delicacy?” My drink therefore takes inspiration from the flavors of his life: grapefruit, plum, lime as it was easier to find in Vietnam than lemon and a salt rim (to imitate pickled plum).
You’re permitted to use six ingredients in your cocktail, what’s the one ingredient (apart from BACARDÍ) that brings the x-factor to your drink?
Salt. I love using spices to add the ‘wow’ factor, salt really brings the drink to life – it’s like having a party in your mouth!
You can choose from BACARDÍ Carta Blanca or BACARDÍ Carta Ora as the base for your cocktail, which did you go for and why?
I chose BACARDÍ Oro to represent the strength to fight and the spirit for the nation from both men, my grandfather and Don Facundo Bacardi.
Why do you believe your drink has the potential to be the next BACARDÍ Legacy cocktail?
Simplicity has always been my main focus when creating a new cocktail. I want all my drinks to be simple to make, so you can walk behind any bar anywhere in the world and be able to make it, and make it fast. The flavours also need to be balanced and showcase its point of difference and carry the meanings, so that the guests can taste the drink even before it touches their lips. I want guests all around the world to be able to fully immerse themselves in the story behind the drink, the reasons behind the ingredients, and also to taste what I can proudly call the next Legacy. This is an opportunity for me to bring the experience and the cocktail knowledge I have gained to Asia, and of course to be able to push and motivate the young generations of the nation in a way they can confidently compete with the rest of the world.
Who would you most like to see drinking it?
My friends around the world would be my first pick; the ones I have had the opportunity to work with before. But if I really have to pick one person, it would be my mother. I just want her to know that I’m going to make her proud.
What’s the best piece of advice you received during the competition, or what’s the best piece of advice you’d like to pass on to anyone thinking of entering next year?
My best advice to anybody entering BACARDÍ Legacy is: be yourself and believe in your story as much as you can. Breathe it, think about it, dream about it, and live with it, the cocktail you’ve created. Winning isn’t everything. For me, the greatest gift this competition can grant the finalist is the chance to find his or herself; to be able to help, connect, inspire others and also be inspired by those talented booze slingers around the world.
What would winning BACARDÍ Legacy mean to you?
Winning the competition would bring me one step closer to my goal: that is to continue my grandfather’s legacy, to teach, to inspire and motivate young Vietnamese bartenders and to put Vietnam on the global map of cocktail shenanigans. Also I really want to travel and share my knowledge and to learn as much as I can from my colleagues around the world.
30ml BACARDÍ Carta Oro
30ml plum liqueur
10ml grapefruit juice
Shake all ingredients with ice. Served straight up, garnished with a salt rim.
The BACARDÍ Legacy UK Final takes place on 10th November. Keep up to date at #BacardiLegacyUK.