Settaphong Charoensiri Gets a Kick out of Chivas Regal Extra
Settaphong “New” Charoensiri is the fresh face in town. Literally and figuratively. The rising twentysomething mixologist arrived in Bangkok five months ago, when he left laid-back Koh Samui for the buzzing capital city to man the bar at InterContinental Bangkok’s Theo Mio. “For three years, I practically lived in the bar at InterContinental Samui to learn how to make cocktails,” he says. With his arrival, the casual ground-floor restaurant, perhaps best known as the brainchild of celebrity chef Theo Randall, is showing it has more up its sleeves than impeccable Italian food.
As sunlight filters into Theo Mio on a pleasant Monday afternoon, New grabs a shaker, some lime juice, and a bottle of Chivas Regal Extra. At this time of day, with guests chatting at tables on the outdoor terrace and the sun’s glow bathing the blue and white canvas umbrellas, it’s as if Theo Mio were taken right out of a Roman piazza, a place just begging for a cocktail and good conversation. And inside, the ambiance is just as inviting, with tall trees hanging over tables and a wood-fired oven in plain sight. Whilst New prepares the restaurant’s signature Wish Key Sour, Restaurant Manager Daniel Freismuth opens up about the relationship between cocktails and dining at Theo Mio.
“More and more people are saying, ‘Hey, let’s start with a cocktail,’” he says, taking note of the groups of guests inside and outside now gathering for pre-dinner drinks. “The Wish Key Sour has our creative touch, but it looks good and sounds familiar, [and that] fits well with the whole concept of Theo Mio. We serve what we call ready-to-go food. It’s relaxed, it’s easy.”
New measures 30 ml of simple syrup and drains it into the shaker. He measures equal amounts of lime juice, egg white, and Chivas Regal Extra and does the same. Then he drops in some ice. Finally, he pops a glass over the top and shakes. Slow, strong, deliberate shakes for ten seconds. “When your hand gets cold, you know you’re close,” he says. “And listen. When a cocktail is ready, it has this sound. Do it every day and you’ll learn to hear it.”
When New pours the mix into a tumbler glass over ice, the egg white is perfectly frothy and sitting on top of the whisky-and-lime blend. As a finishing touch, he adds a drizzle of port wine. The port gives the Wish Key Sour a punch of flavour and a splash of colour while complementing the rich, fruity notes of Chivas Regal Extra, a Speyside blended Scotch whisky which uses malt whiskies aged in sherry casks from the Oloroso bodegas in Spain. It also adds a modern twist on the classic whisky sour recipe. Familiar yet refreshing, in tune with Theo Mio’s credo.
“I once made seven or eight Wish Key Sours for one customer,” recounts New, who also recalls mixing 10 piña coladas in one night for a customer while he was working on Koh Samui. “I love seeing people react to my cocktails, [and] I guess he must have really liked what I was doing.”
Both New and Daniel agree that ingredients make the drink, especially in a classic cocktail with fewer elements. Echoing a common refrain, Daniel says, “If you don’t use the best ingredients, such as Chivas Regal Extra or fresh lime juice, you’ll never get a good product.”
And in New’s opinion, Thailand’s tropical climate yields certain advantages, including fresh seasonal fruit to use in whatever cocktail he’s working on—maybe one of his favourite coconut concoctions, or his rum, orange peel, and apple custard experiment. Whatever the choice, it’s clear that with New behind the bar, Theo Mio has some skill to go with its style and spirit.
Wish Key Sour
• 30ml simple syrup
• 30ml fresh-squeezed lime juice
• 30ml egg white
• 30ml Chivas Regal Extra
Shake all ingredients and pour over ice in a tumbler glass.
Finish with a drizzle of port wine.
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