Monin, the world’s leading producer of the finest gourmet sauces, flavored syrups, fruit smoothie and cocktail mixes, hailed Bicol Speedster, a drink inspired by the popular Filipino dish Bicol Express, as the champion of the Monin Cup 2022.
With the mission to inspire creativity and provide the desired taste, the latest edition of the competition challenged mixologists in and around the metro from the most famous and rising bars to exemplify their skill and passion in encapsulating memorable moments into unforgettable cocktail experiences.
Filipino bartender Mark Defensor conceptualized and whipped up Bicol Speedster, a fusion of Tanduay Asian Gold Rum, Coconut Milk, Pork Fatwashed Habanero Lime Liqueur and Monin Ginger Syrup. The brew was made extra exciting with a dash of siling labuyo (chili pepper) and black pepper.
“The Bicol Speedster allows you to experience a regional Filipino dish in the form of a cocktail,” Defensor noted. “The rum compliments the coconut. And by fat washing the Habanero Lime Liqueur, you get a nice savory note to the drink while adding a kick of heat to it.”
Defensor, who was raised in the Middle East, recalled he did not have access to pork until he tried Bicol Express when he visited the Philippines with his parents.
“Bicol Speedster is special to me because it embodies the first time I was able to taste authentic regional Filipino dishes with my family,” he shared.
Defensor, who majored in Hospitality Management at the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, likewise expressed his utmost gratitude to his professors, Gioseppe Angelo Racelis, Jerwin Pineda and Karl John, for introducing and immersing him in the world of competitive bartending.
For the Monin Cup, Defensor represented The Spirits Library, a Makati bar known for its collection of rare bottles, cocktail books and bar paraphernalia. He was mentored by Ralph Allen Santos, the Dean of The Spirits Library.
“Work ethics is what differs a good bartender from a great bartender,” he stated. “Thanks to Ralph, I have learned that with hard work and creativity, anything is possible behind the bar.”
Defensor, together with Santos, will represent the Philippines in the Monin Tour in Rawang, Selangor, Malaysia. He will have a guest shift at one of the best cocktail bars in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.