Liquid Intel: Tasting Batch 11 Of The GlenDronach ‘Grandeur’, Nightcaps At Asia’s #3 Bar, & More
— Updated on 14 June 2023

Liquid Intel: Tasting Batch 11 Of The GlenDronach ‘Grandeur’, Nightcaps At Asia’s #3 Bar, & More

— Updated on 14 June 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

After a month-long hiatus – brought about by the ruinous consequences of drinking for three weeks straight in the leadup to silly season (woops) – Randy, our resident lover of libations, is back with the first edition of Liquid Intel in 2023. Cocktail recipes, venue highlights, and a wine/spirit recommendation – it’s pretty much business as usual.

Naturally, the lapse in coverage over the December period means that this time around, there’s a somewhat retrospective flavour to a number of our inclusions. But not to worry: as ever, anything that makes it into Liquid Intel has to meet our rigorous (often office-wide) seal of approval; and an intractable part of that means bars and bottles that are so good as to be futureproof – as you’ll see below.

RELATED: An Insider’s Travel Guide To 96 Hours In Hong Kong

Out On The Town: Argo, Hong Kong

Holidaying in one of the most expensive and politically volatile cities in East Asia mightn’t be everybody’s idea of a rollicking time; but for me, a brief sojourn in Hong Kong this Christmas just past proved wonderfully invigorating (if for no other reason than to fall in love anew with the world-class bar & restaurant scene I cut my teeth covering these last few years).

That magic is handily encapsulated in Argo, the Four Seasons Hong Kong’s award-winning conservatory of craft: where the refrain is cocktails “driven by innovation, shaped by the modern world”. With a team consisting of some of the +852’s most decorated and forward-thinking bartenders (including Lorenzo Antinori of Charles H fame) it’s virtually impossible to sip a bad beverage here – ditto if you’re ordering from the new ‘ARGO Cook Book’ menu.

Themed around six ingredients that are pillars in Hong Kong’s local culinary culture, there are 12 original creations to choose from: variously incorporating soy bean; apricot kernels; cha siu; black vinegar; aged tea; or ‘XO’ sauce – the king of condiments – into their respective flavour profiles. To anybody with even a middling interest in Cantonese food, these drinks yield delightful new insights; yet I found myself most taken with the Black Dot Manhattan Flight.

Consisting of a trio of whisky-based cocktails matured in clay, each offered a glimpse into the energetic progression of rice vinegar: beginning with a clean and refreshing ‘unaged’ version and culminating in the richest of the bunch, left to steep in balsamic clay for up to one month. Needless to say, I’d take another flight of these over an unnecessarily elaborate Margarita any day of the week.

Drippin’ In Finesse: The GlenDronach ‘Grandeur’ Batch 11

Liquid Intel
(Image Credit: Randy Lai)

Part of an elite selection of limited editions that GlenDronach began introducing over a decade ago, the ‘Grandeur’ is distinct from other mature aged bottlings due to the amount of time it spends in the meticulously chosen casks fielded by this award-winning Highland distillery. Unlike the more readily available 12 and 18 age statements, the Grandeur has spent the entirety of its 28-year lifespan (prior to bottling) in a mixture of Spanish sherry casks; with this particular batch (No. 11) leaning heavily into the Pedro Ximenez (‘PX’) side of things.

As you can imagine, allocations for a single malt of this maturity aren’t exactly plentiful. Of the 200 or so bottles earmarked for the Australian market, we were fortunate enough to sample a handful of drams from one of these; and even at this early juncture – with a complete retailer list yet to materialise – I would feel comfortable wagering these ‘Batch 11’ bottles will move like proverbial hotcakes.

Brimming with coffee-centric aromas of freshly brewed espresso and a palate dominated by the same kind of juicy stone fruit flavours present in a cup of Panama Geisha, each sip of the Grandeur Batch 11 lingers with the appropriately weighty sense of ceremony – a must for anybody who is serious about sherry cask finishes and certainly at this pricepoint.

Try This At Home: Stefano Filardi’s Basquiat, Dean & Nancy

This month, we return to our good friends at Dean & Nancy for a suitably svelte cocktail recipe, plucked from the pages of this award-winning venue’s new travel-themed menu. Cribbing visual inspiration from the legendary SAMO murals dotted about New York, the ‘Basquiat’ – as it’s appropriately dubbed – is reasonably easy to replicate at home.

Notwithstanding the whimsical chocolate garnish (you’ll have to hit up Dean & Nancy for that) the Basquiat is essentially an upside-down Manhattan: one of those legendary hotel bar cocktails that is stirred over ice and smooth as a velvet rug. Below, Stefano Filardi, Dean & Nancy’s Bar Manager, walks us through his affinity for the style – and explains how the Basquiat is same-same-but-different:

“I’m a big fan of the original Manhattan recipe and our ‘Basquiat’ is a beautifully rich twist on an old favourite. The proportions of spirit and vermouth are inverted from the classic version – making this less alcoholic and much smoother. I love the hint of smokiness which comes from the Talisker, while the sweetness of the cherry liqueur balances out the bitterness in the vermouth. All in all, a really great recipe to cap off a big dinner!”

Method: Combine all ingredients in a large mixing tin/shaker. Add two to three large blocks of clear, good-quality ice. Gently stir until all ingredients are cool and sufficiently diluted. Strain into a frozen cocktail glass. Garnish with a side of your favourite chocolate.

  • Michter’s rye whiskey, 30ml
  • Talisker 10 whisky, 5ml
  • Cocchi Torino vermouth rosso, 60ml
  • Cherry Herring liqueur, 10ml
  • Angostura cocoa bitters, 2 drops

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].