Cocktail snobs are spoiled to the maximum by the unlimited imagination of mixologists aiming to wow and surprise their guests. Smoky cocktails, clear Piña Coladas, Cointreau caviar, the list goes on! How exactly do you create a concept to impress the masses though? Head mixologist Jacob Shteyntsayg and his team at Vida Rica Bar in Mandarin Oriental, Macau, seems to know this secret. And this secret is their unique bar menu, Art in Mixology. Level 1, Legends & Cocktails.
A large cognac glass on a marble board appears on the bar counter in front of us. The artistic design of this first cocktail from the Legends & Cocktails menu is a visual pleasure that boosts our curiosity. Instantly, questions start appearing in our heads. Why this presentation? What is it made of and, of course, how does it taste?
The River of Tears is Jacob’s personal favorite. “I love The River of Tears for its distinguished mix. We spent quite some time to achieve that balance”, he claims. It was inspired by a beautiful and sad Portuguese story of love that gave the cocktail its name, as well by Portugal’s culture in general. That shows in the ingredients like brandy infused with Portuguese cheese and citrus-based elements. It also becomes clear in the way the drink is presented–a (glass) ship washed up on the rocky shore filled with foam that reminds us of the sea.
Every cocktail creation is unique and based on each country’s historical background and signature ingredients. The way it’s presented plays a large role in completing the whole concept of connecting legends, heritage, art, and flavors.
Art and Concept
“Legends & Cocktails is an art menu. We collected 11 Asian legends and asked 11 artists from Macau to illustrate them. Then we created cocktails and mocktails based on these legends and artworks. We don’t have detailed ingredient descriptions in our menu either. It’s more about finding a story that appeals to you and making a choice based on that, trusting your feelings”, is how Jacob describes the concept.
Also, all the bartenders claim that establishing a dialogue with a guest almost always leads to a more complete and satisfying experience for that guest. So not having all the details in the menu is also a clever way to start a conversation. However, if guests are eager to know each cocktail’s content, they can scan the QR code in the menu and go through all the available information online.
Legends & Cocktails introduces local talents and let them help with the sensual interpretation during a cocktail experience. This ambitious mixology project connects two fascinating spheres–art and mixology–generating a peculiar symbiosis. One of the most profound ways to explore both art and cocktails is to let your feelings guide you into understanding the context and gaining basic knowledge about it. In a way, exploring the flavors help to understand art pieces that inspired those flavors and the other way around. It all works together in a holistic approach.
The Legends & Cocktails project absorbs all the good trends–gastronomic approach to cocktails, complex concept, inspiring presentation and elevated mocktails. Vida Rica Bar’s team proves that mocktails don’t have to be boring and flat. Each cocktail has its non-alcoholic doppelganger. The “virgin” ones presented in the menu are as equally interesting as their alcoholic versions. Jacob adjusts the recipes substituting shiitake mushroom infused bourbon in Monkey King for shiitake tea or coconut rum in “The Prince” for coconut water.
Gastronomy and Mixology
As for the gastronomic approach, Jacob’s master’s degree in the field has surely contributed to the success of these concoctions. Combining gastronomy and mixology breeds unusual flavor profiles and helps build strong connections with the story and where it came from. He thinks outside the box of comfort combinations and well-known recipes, yet keeps the balance of every cocktail while respecting every culture’s flavor code, history and typical ingredients. Queijo da Ilha for Portugal; ginger, sea salt and almond milk for Macau; rice orgeat for Hong Kong; shiitake mushroom for China and the list goes on. Basically, you can “taste” the essence of a country by taking just one sip such as, for instance, the cumin note in the “Law of The Jungle” cocktail that instantly transports you to India.
Everything comes together in this ambitious and unique project. Storytelling, design, and most importantly, flavors. Legends & Cocktails has become another way to explore the world of art in Macau, by tuning into our other senses. But what makes us even more excited is the “Volume 1” remark. What will Vida Rica Bar’s team present as a sequel? Whatever it is, we will be the first ones to rush to Mandarin Oriental, Macau to find out!
How much: Each cocktail has its own price
For more info or bookings, call +853 8805 8928 or send an email to [email protected]