Spicy mango cocktail inspired by childhood

Childhood hijinks inspired Bread Street Kitchen bartender Adonis Reyes to create his signature cocktail, the Tanggero, a rum-based spicy mango drink.

As a teenager growing up in Batangas, a city two hours away from Manila in the Philippines, he and his friends would get mangoes from their neighbour's backyard to go with whichever liquor they had acquired from the local brewery, after pooling together money.

"We would peel the mango, cut it into thin slices, and dip the slices in salt and chilli," he recalls of his drinking sessions with his buddies.

"We never stole the mangoes, we asked nicely," the 27-year-old adds cheekily.

These ingredients inspired his entry for the Bacardi Legacy rum cocktail competition where he had to create a new classic cocktail that can be easily replicated in bars the world over. It is organised by Bacardi, a Cuban family-owned spirits company.

This is his first competition and he emerged as one of five finalists, whittled down from the initial 61 entrants from Singapore. The other four are Satoshi Iwai from Orgo, Bannie Kang from Anti:dote, Sin Kim Shin from Jigger & Pony and Stuart Danker from Sugarhall. The five finalists will square off in the national finals in March next year, where the winner will represent Singapore with his or her winning cocktail at the Bacardi Legacy global finals in San Francisco in April.

Reyes' Tanggero combines sweetness from lemongrass syrup, acidity from lime juice, a textural element from beaten egg white and brininess from a sprinkling of salt at the end, all perfectly balancing the chilli kick from the spicy mango puree that is the standout ingredient of the Bacardi Superior rum-based concoction.

Ideally, fresh mangoes should be used but he says mango puree is fine as an alternative. The cocktail, priced at $19++, is available at Bread Street Kitchen and the Marina Bay Sands rooftop SkyPark.

It will be available at the integrated resort's Long Chim, Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza from tomorrow.

The name of the cocktail is a "100 per cent Filipino" term. He says Tanggero is the name given to the person appointed as the unofficial chair of a drinking session, who is in charge of passing equal amounts of drinks to everyone.

"He makes sure that everyone is drinking and having a fair share, and that everyone is having a good time," says Reyes.

Although he is Filipino, he has never worked in his home country, having spent the past eight years plying his trade in Singapore.

His journey as a bartender began during a six-month-long internship at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar in July 2007, where he learnt how to mix the iconic Singapore Sling. He was one of a group of 15 shortlisted from 100 applicants at a recruitment drive by the hotel in the Philippines.

He returned home but came back to Singapore shortly after to work at a few smaller bars, but he "received intensive training in bartending skills" during his four- year stint at db Bistro & Oyster Bar in Marina Bay Sands from 2011.

In March this year, he joined the opening team for British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen Singapore and now works under the tutelage of bar manager William Pravda.

He hopes to inspire others to "not be shy" and compete. While he was intimidated at first, he says he has gained more confidence along the way.

He says: "Now I'm trying to get more competitive. I managed to make it to the top five, why not number one as well, right?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Tipples Spicy mango cocktail inspired by childhood'. Print Edition | Subscribe