The Proof is in THE TASTING
Jeremy Chua of famed Singapore cocktail bar 28 Hong Kong Street recently took over the stick at Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta’s Nautilus bar to a packed crowd.
BORN AND BRED in Singapore, Jem is one of the city state’s most talented up and coming bartenders. After working as a bartender in several other establishments, he was scouted by Michael Callahan to join the opening bar team of 28 Hong Kong Street. Three years later, in December 2014, he took the helm of this World’s 50 Best Bars as head bartender.
He recently took a year off to travel through Asia, Europe and Australia before returning to join Proof & Company as Creative Associate, bringing with him inspirations from the sights, sounds and tastes that he gathered on his trip across several continents.
Jem was in Jakarta to conduct some trainings so the Four Seasons Jakarta took this opportunity to let him take over it’s swanky new bar, Nautilus. We got the chance to chat with Jem before the crowds arrived that night.
“I like lots of flavors. And that’s what highlighted my year of travel. I was able to taste many local flavors during my trips,” Jem shares. Jem continues and says that he loves discovering new things. He recounts walking into a spice shop in Italy and seeing many different kinds of olives. “I thought I knew how an olive tasted like, until you are shown so many different kinds and realize that each one has its own flavor.”
When he started in hospitality, he worked in a kitchen first. He was 17 and couldn’t work in a bar yet. “That was when I realized that creating new things was what I really wanted to do.” And create he does. Now he is part of the Proof & Company team which creates and consults on bars all over the world.
One of the ingredients he likes working on are dates. “I had a lot of fun working with different kinds of dates and making syrups with them. I tried many different varieties, drying them, then rehydrating them. Some of the dates end up having very smoky flavors.”
During his bar takeover, Jem recreated three signature cocktails from the 28 Hong Kong Street menu. My favorite was the Modus Mule – a twist on a classic Moscow mule – but this one had lemongrass infused vodka, ginger beer, lime and some bitters which they had in a squeeze dropper, which guests could add more of to change the taste of the drink. Jem also served up a rum based Planter’s Punch and a variation of a traditional gimlet.
All in all, it was a fun night of interesting cocktails. I do have to say that Nautilus is turning out to be my new favorite Jakarta bar. Excellently designed, cozy and manned by very creative and talented craftsmen behind the bar. Read more about Nautilus in our Happy Hour feature.
Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta
Jalan Jenderal Gatot Subroto
Kav. 18, Jakarta
T: +62 21 2277 1888
IG & Twitter: @fsjakarta